Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

Coupons are a way of life and have been for a long time. By the turn of the 19th century, Coca Cola and Post cereals were using coupons to promote their products. The Great Depression saw their use increase. Since the 1950s, coupons have been a significant presence in the marketplace.

Today’s coupons have evolved. Some merchants double and even triple coupons in an effort to lure customers into their stores. Stories abound of savvy shoppers who walk out with thousands of dollars worth of groceries while spending only a few dollars or, even, getting cash back on the entire order.

Coupons are tax free income for two reasons. First, you do not have to report coupons as income. Second, in many cases, you do not pay tax on the portion of the bill paid for by coupons.

Buyer Beware

There are things you should be aware of in today’s couponing world. Many stores have loyalty cards that are required in order to receive store discounts. Many allow shoppers to load coupons directly on the card. This can be a deceptive benefit. If there is a coupon on the card for 50 cents off a product, but you have a 50 cent coupon, the card’s coupon will override your coupon. If the store doubles coupons, typically, their coupon will not double. That means, if you want to you use your coupon, you have to buy another of the same product. It isn’t a bad thing, but shoppers should be aware.

Stores that allow coupons to be loaded on their loyalty cards do not always keep records well. It is common to discover that coupons you thought were available are not showing up while others are on your card that were not shown on the Internet program that is supposed to keep up with what is happening on your card. Be aware.

The Future

Today, you don’t have to buy anything to get all the coupons you need. There are plenty of web sites that offer coupons some of which can be loaded on your favorite store’s loyalty card. There are smartphone apps and web sites that let you plan your shopping and keep track of what you do.

It would be nice if store loyalty programs could take your shopping list, let you pick a specific store, and then arrange your list by aisle. It would be incredible if every product had a shelf light that would flash when you walked by and it read a coupon on your card. Then, you would be alerted to the fact that something that was not on your list but was on your card had been identified. Finally, imagine getting coupons created especially for you based on your shopping habits.

Coupons save money. They give you the opportunity to try new products and let you splurge on special items you can’t normally afford. Coupons let you live frugally without making you feel like you do. Go ahead. Make your day, and clip another coupon.

Jill Jackson contributes weekly on Key Insurance Quotes, and is a stay-at-home mom. She credits coupons and rebates with giving her the chance to do that because she saves so much money.

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