Monday, October 20, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough... Use Coupons?

Danielle Sills

With the economy in trouble, many people across Athens are strapped for money. Long car rides, utility bills, and trips to the grocery store all take their toll on average residents. An article on reports that people are cutting more coupons to cut down on costs. We wanted to know if people in Athens were following this national trend, so we stopped by a few grocery stores in the area.

Food World Discounts Help Residents Get By
Athens Food World publishes its in-store specials every other week in the Athens Messenger. In every aisle, large signs mark the discounts for most of the items in the store. Manager Mike Yeater says the store offers discounted prices and savings for its customers. But even with well-priced items, he says "people are only buying what they absolutely need."

Time is Money
While Yeater said the store offers the incentive of good deals, Food World customers don't just come to the store for the bargains. Athens resident Terry Whitlach said he tends to buy the items on sale for that week, but the real reason he comes to the store is because it's close to home.

"To me my time is valuable, and if I can hit a place for convenience, I don't mind paying that extra ten cents," Whitlach explained. He doesn't like to take the time to cut coupons either.

Athens resident Forrest Ervin says he rarely uses coupons either. Even though the economy has been hit hard, he won't go out of his way to find coupons. Ervin only takes advantage of the deals in the store.

Kroger Coupons Give Buyers Incentives
Kroger also provides opportunities for its customers to save money. The store advertises in-store promotions, like one where shoppers can buy ten items for ten dollars. Kroger also promotes coupon usage. Shoppers can print coupons from Kroger's website before leaving home or get discounts on store-brand items with a Kroger card.

Every Cent Counts
In contrast to the Food World customers, those unloading their grocery bags outside of Kroger said coupons were an important part of their shopping routine. OU Senior Lauren Behe says in addition to using a Kroger card, her mom sends her coupons in the mail.

OU Senior Lauren Behe explains why she uses coupons

"Every little bit counts," Behe said. She says her family is feeling the strain of the economy, and coupons are one way to cope.

OU Senior Cari Steiner doesn't necessarily use paper coupons, but she buys Kroger brand food to save money. Steiner uses the "ten for ten dollars" deal when buying yogurt.

Coupons: To Use or Not to Use
While some residents we talked to didn't want to waste their time cutting coupons, others said coupons were an integral part of their shopping experience. Each person and family has different strategies when it comes to balancing a budget. So even though the country's economic situation is affecting many in the Athens community, not all of them think that coupons are the solution. However, everyone agrees that it is important to find good deals on everything from groceries to gas.

Making the Most of Coupons
If you do choose to use coupons, sites like Mommy Savers, GoogoBits, and eHow recommend the following tips:

Be sure coupons are actually saving money.
---Sometimes the generic brand costs less than the national brand, even with the coupon.
Combine in-store coupons with two-for-one deals.
---Check to see if you can use two coupons at once.
With coupons, buy the smallest size.
---Buying in bulk is only smart when you don't have coupons.
Find coupons everywhere.
---Look online, trade with friends, check the Sunday newspaper, and ask at your grocery store's customer service.
Organize your coupons.
---Use a container that sorts coupons by type so they are easy to find.

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