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Clipping Coupons

My recent post about supermarket loyalty cards got me thinking about using coupons in general. Just like Lending Club has improved the lending industry with its P2P loans, more advanced savings methods have added to the obsolescence of coupons. Taking a close look at them, though, may reveal that they still offer substantial savings potential.

To determine if it’s worth it for you to use coupons, you need to know a number of things first. You’ll need to know what your time is worth. You’ll need to know the value of the coupons, including any multipliers offered by your preferred store. You should take other intangibles into account, such as the cost of using the desired store, brand loyalty, etc.

Obviously using coupons is worth it if you will save more money than the time it takes to find and use the coupons. You may find that it’s only worth using easily accessible coupons, such as those that print out along with your receipt. The time to find others, such as by scouring newspapers and magazines, may be more valuable than the discount that you’ll receive.

The intangibles, mentioned above, often make it difficult to determine the true value of a coupon. For example, the pleasure of using a branded product versus a generic may not be worth the normal premium paid for the brand, but may be worth it when the branded product is discounted by a coupon. Similarly, you’ll have to consider whether driving across town (on $3 a gallon gas) is worth getting double coupons versus single at a closer merchant.

With many discounts now being taken automatically through supermarket loyalty cards, the whole concept of coupons seems less relevant. Some people still use the system though, which indicates that underlying value likely still exists. You should be able to spot the coupons that are worth it to you more easily once you’ve considered the value of your time and the true savings a coupon has to offer.

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