BOSTON (CBS) – Coupons have been around for over 100 years (since 1909). The first coupon was a penny off CW Post’s Grape-Nuts cereal. And you can still find coupons for Grape-Nuts cereal.

This year coupon redemption is down because CPG marketers are offering fewer coupons. A CPG marketer is a Consumer Packaged Goods marketer. And these packaged products have to be replaced frequently and are purchased frequently, usually in grocery stores. Many have a long shelf life.

The Promotion Marketing Association claim that consumers saved close to $3 billion last year by using coupons. That is not pocket change and it doesn’t get lost on the companies that issue coupons.

There is a TV show, Extreme Couponing on TLC. I admit I have not watched it but I have chatted with a few of its critics. Many of the people featured spend 30 to 35 hours a week and they save hundreds of dollars each week. I don’t have an extra 30 hours a week but you can still do very well spending a couple of hours a week. Extreme Couponing has caused many manufacturers and stores to re-evaluate their coupon policies.

To get started with coupons invest in a coupon guide. I like The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half: The Strategic Shopping Method Proven to Slash Food and Drugstore Costs by Stephanie Nelson. Use her webpage for extra help.

Get yourself a notebook and keep track of what your family eats and uses on a regular basis so you have a reference as to what you pay for your family’s favorite foods

The Internet is a good source for coupons. Just type in the word “coupons” and all kinds of coupons are yours for the taking from groceries to furniture. Many of the chain restaurants also have coupons and specials on their websites.

Also visit the website of the manufacturer of the products you buy. They often have coupons as well.

Don’t forget magazines, food packages, the mail as well as the newspaper.

So how much can you save? Well the more you buy the more you can save. I am only cooking for 2 these days. So what I can save on groceries is limited. I can find some coupons for dairy but not much for meat or fresh produce. And this time of year I am apt to shop at the local farmer’s markets. I tend to use the coupons I collect for items I am buying for the local food pantry.

One more thing:  From Ed: I love your segment on WBZ and I just wanted to pass on a tip that you might be able to use in your Money Matters segment. I found out about an online coupon code website called Keep Cash that has coupons to all the popular online stores like Target, Dell, Sports Authority, etc.

I think it might be useful to some people out there when shopping online during the holiday season. They also have a link to the Black Friday ads where you can sign up and get the ads early. Anyway, I hope this helps. Keep up the good work.


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