Inevitably, people ask me if the store loses money when people use coupons to get items for free or at extremely low prices. The answer is no. The product manufacturers that offer the coupons reimburse the store for the full value of the coupon, plus an 8- to 12-cent handling fee. So, the store actually makes more money when people use coupons. If I use 30 coupons in one shopping trip, the store will make an additional $2.40 just in handling fees alone - plus they will be reimbursed the full face value of each coupon. Coupons pay for a big part of my grocery bill, and my store earns more because I use coupons regularly.
It's best to think of your coupons as cash. When my Sunday newspaper arrives, I immediately bring it in, pull the coupon inserts out, stick them in a folder... and that's it. I don't waste time cutting them out or sorting them by product or type or even looking at them until I'm actually ready to go shopping for the week. You don't have to be a highly organized person to use coupons, but when you start viewing them as cash, you treat them with the same care and organization that you would paper money. The average Sunday newspaper has at least $40 worth of coupons inside. Would you leave $40 cash lying around the house to get lost among other papers and magazines?
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com.