If the holiday gift-buying season left you strapped for cash, some Iowans may benefit from a familiar money-saving tactic — clipping coupons. Financial planner Robert Weagley says coupons can help you stretch your paycheck farther, but only if you use them wisely.
“By using coupons, you can expand your budget constraint, or the money you’ve got available to spend, and you can get more for it if you use your coupons in a judicious way,” Weagley says. “Make sure you’re buying the things that you would have bought anyway, even if you didn’t have the coupons.”
He says to resist the urge to use a coupon if it’s for something you wouldn’t ordinarily purchase. During the economic downturn of the past few years, Weagley says couponing has ballooned. “There has been a growth in coupon use by people over the last couple of years although it’s still not up to the point that it was back in 1999, the highest year ever in terms of the number of coupons used,” Weagley says.
“Back in ’99, there were 4.6-billion coupons used and in 2008, it was 2.6-billion.” There are some misconceptions about who uses coupons, he says, as it’s not just low-income people. “Most of the heavy users are people that come from better-educated families,” he says. “They tend to be older. Families tend to be larger. Females certainly do it more than males and people in suburbs tend to do more couponing than people that live within the cities.”
It’s unclear why coupon use fell off so dramatically after the year 2000. Weagley says it’s possible some people decided after the Nine Eleven attacks that time was more precious and that they needed to spend it with family, not clipping coupons.