Extreme coupon shopping tips


Since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, grocery shoppers have become more frugal.  Concerned about the rising cost of food, toiletries and household goods, they are clipping more coupons and saving more money.  According to the Promotion Marketing Association, spending as little as 20 minutes a week clipping coupons can save an average family close to $1,200 a year.   

Since early 2009, coupon distribution has exploded.  So much so that a recent study revealed over 89 percent of shoppers have used coupons in the last 12 months.  With over 175 billion coupons offered by retailers in the first six months of 2011, this growth builds upon the record-breaking trends of 2009 and 2010 when 311 billion and 330 billion coupons were distributed in the marketplace.

Many of my personal friends, co-workers and Facebook acquaintances regularly wonder how I save 70 to 80 percent at my favorite Fort Lauderdale Publix.  Although I accumulate printable coupons from various websites, the Sunday Miami Herald and South Florida Sun Sentinel remain my favorite.  In accumulating coupons from multiple papers – including the Spanish edition since the coupons are different – I have a number for use when an item becomes a “BOGO” free or goes on sale.

Many shoppers use the Sunday newspaper as their main source of coupons. They come in a number of varieties, the most common being the manufacturer’s coupon.  This particular coupon provides a discount on a particular product and is distributed by the manufacturer. Stores accept manufacturers’ coupons because they receive reimbursement, plus a handling fee, upon redemption.

Although grocery retailers allocate about 85% of their coupon distribution to the free-standing insert, Internet distribution has experienced record growth over the last two years.  The most popular online printable coupon sites are: www.coupons.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com, www.redplum.com,  www.smartsource.com, and www.valpak.com.

In the past few years, online promotional codes have become extremely popular, providing incentives from free shipping to a percentage off discount.  According to eMarketer, digital coupons have become so popular that 88.9 million shoppers used them in 2011.

Stores and manufacturers also send coupons to shoppers who personally request them.  Obtaining coupons from these sources is as simple as searching the Internet for your favorite brand or store and typing the term “coupon” into your browser.  (For instance, typing the term “Kraft cheese” and “coupon” yielded over 559,000 results.)  Most manufacturers have a separate are for coupons or special discounts.  Thereafter, it is simply a matter of printing the coupon for redemption at the retailer.

Whether you shop at Albertsons (www.albertsonsmarket.com), BJ’s Wholesale Club (www.bjs.com), Food Lion (www.foodlion.com), Publix (www.publix.com), Save-a-Lot (www.save-a-lot.com), Sam’s Club (www.samsclub.com), Sedanos (www.sedanos.com), Sweetbay (www.sweetbaysupermarket.com), Walmart (www.walmart.com), or Winn-Dixie (www.winndixie.com), each of these retailers offer an online section for coupon savings and store discounts.  Shoppers visiting a store website need only direct them

Some grocery stores, such as Publix, will accept traditional competitor’s coupons, while others, such as Albertsons, Sweetbay, Walmart and Winn-Dixie do not.  Although no longer common and not to be expected, it does not hurt to inquire on store specific policies as competitor coupons allow for deeper savings at the checkout counter.

Thousands of websites exist that allow shoppers to buy, sell, or trade coupons.  Although illegal and generally frowned upon, the popular auction site eBay has become number one in coupon sales.

Some of my personal favorites for Internet coupon clipping are www.jillcataldo.com, www.coupondad.net, www.supercouponing.com, www.retailmenot.com, www.couponcabin.com, www.couponmom.com, and www.fatwallet.com.  Be sure to print at least two of each coupon to take advantage of any “BOGO” free offers.

When it comes to “deal-of-the-day” discounts, Groupon (www.groupon.com), LivingSocial (www.livingsocial.com) and LuckyFan (www.luckyfan) are fast becoming industry leaders.

“Today’s shopper is more discount-focused than ever before,” said Jamie McDonnell, President of LuckyFan.  “Daily deal sites are becoming a common reality in tough economic times.  More and more shoppers not only expect, but demand discounted prices.” 

When it comes to eating out, Restaurant.com (www.restaurant.com) is my favorite for gift certificates.  With over 18,000 restaurants nationwide and more than 45,000 daily gift certificate options, customers have saved over $500 million since inception of the program.  Restaurant.com also offers deeply discounted promotional codes for loyal e-mail subscribers and Facebook friends.

According to Restaurant.com, they filled more than 5.5 million tables nationwide and fed more than 18.4 million people in 2010.  This was an increase of almost 10 percent from the previous record year.  Their gift certificate strategy also generated about $400 million in revenue for a struggling restaurant industry.

“We are extremely proud of our achievements in 2011,” said Christopher Krohn, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Restaurant.com.  “These numbers tell a story that goes far beyond our own success. We’re lowering the financial barrier that keeps millions of people away from dining out in an economy that’s still struggling in the wake of a recession. We’re keeping tables filled at establishments that employ tens of thousands of workers around the country, saving jobs from being eliminated and restaurants from closing.”

Coupons represent free money and additional income to those who clip.  Nothing can be further from the truth in a tough economy where grocery bills exceed 12 percent of an average family budget.  “If it’s free – it’s for me” is quickly making its way into my vocabulary.

The Credit Report with Bill Lewis moves to AM 740 WSBR


After more than seven years on the South Florida airwaves, Bill Lewis – host of The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – has left his 9 o’clock morning drive time show on AM 1470 WWNN.

“The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues, a daily radio talk show hosted by Bill Lewis has moved south on the dial and now airs on AM 740 WSBR weeknights at 6pm.

Originally launched on AM 1400 WFTL in 2004, as the “Credit Restoration Consultants Hour,” Bill Lewis provided self-help tips and advice regarding credit repair, finances, and related topics. Throughout the years, Bill’s show strayed from the original concept of providing financial awareness to his listeners.

In an effort to strengthen his listener base and to broaden the topics hosted, Bill launched The Credit Report with Bill Lewis upon moving to AM 1470 WWNN within the Beasley Broadcasting group.  Listeners were searching for help regarding a myriad of topics from credit repair, extreme coupon shopping, and foreclosure matters, but welcomed the political format that Bill introduced locally to a south Florida audience. 

“We’re excited that Bill is moving down the dial and remaining with Beasley Broadcasting,” stated general manager, Bob Morency.  “After seven years on AM 1470 WWNN, he should fit right in on AM 740 WSBR.”

Since the show’s inception, Bill Lewis has interviewed some of the country’s leading politicians, including: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Allen West, Rick Scott, George LeMieux, Jeff Atwater, Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi, Marco Rubio, Alex Sink, Adam Putnam, Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, Christine O’Donnell, among others.

In addition, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis has hosted a number of politicians as well as attorneys and financial experts in the south Florida area.  Among the dozens that have appeared on the show are Carlos Reyes, Al Lamberti, Chip LaMarca, Lori Parrish, Richard Denapoli, Rico Petrocelli, Jamie McDonnell, Jim Lewis, Tom Lauder, and John Contini.

The Credit Report with Bill Lewis airs live, Monday through Friday from 6pm-7pm with an encore presentation Saturday’s at 3pm on AM 740 WSBR.  Streaming audio is available at www.wsbrradio.com and on air participation is welcome at (888) 721-0074.

If you miss the early broadcast, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is still available weeknights at 9pm and Sunday’s at 1pm on AM 1470 WWNN by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 17,350 plus fans on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.

Cyber Monday Rivals Black Friday


While the term “Black Friday” has been around for more than four decades, the term “Cyber Monday” has only been in existence for six years. Undeniable, though, is its impact on the retail community.

With millions of Americans still paying off credit card debt from last year’s holiday spending, retailers and the Federal Reserve are hoping that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will help an otherwise struggling economy.

Taking credit for the term Cyber Monday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) discovered a trend of online shopping the Monday after Thanksgiving. Since 2005, it has become part of the pre-Christmas retail vernacular, and according to most studies has surpassed Black Friday in terms of popularity.

According to the online retail-tracking firm ComScore, Cyber Monday 2010 was the largest online retail day with more than $1 billion in online sales. It was the first time in history that online sales surpassed this benchmark.  In comparison, foot traffic on Black Friday generated some $650 million. 

Internet shopping is expected to be even bigger this holiday season.  Industry tracker eMarketer estimates online holiday sales will grow 16.8%, compared with a year earlier, to $46.7 billion. Online sales make up about 8% of total domestic retail sales, according to Forrester Research.

“All of my Christmas shopping is done online and most retailers have the same specials online as they have in the store,” said Rebecca Springfield of Norfolk, Virginia, on Facebook. “I certainly don’t need the headache or hassle of standing in line for hours waiting for a store to open at 4am!”

Forty-five percent of those surveyed indicated they would surf the Internet on Cyber Monday while 37 percent stood in line on Black Friday. This contrast marks a stark change in the way cost conscience shoppers are seeking deeper discounts in tough economic times.

As one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, many retailers’ will run promotions on Cyber Monday. Most are planning to offer coupons/percent off deals (45.0%) and more than one-third (37.5%) will have limited-time promotions. Additionally, three in 10 (30.0%) will offer free standard shipping with conditions and 15.0 percent will feature a free gift with their purchase. With fewer disposable dollars to spend, shoppers have become more savvy and cost conscience.

Retailers that have both an online and physical presence are expecting a double digit increase in sales this year as a result of Cyber Monday.

“We found more people are planning on doing Cyber Monday this year rather than Black Friday. That is a trend that’s actually been happening the last few years. People see it as easier, more convenient, they don’t need to go to the shops and they can do it from the convenience from their own computer,” said Debra Miller Arbesman, spokeswoman at Compete.

Holiday shoppers who find time is not on their side often shop online over their lunch hours at work or at the end of the business day. According to the survey, 58.4 percent of workers with Internet access, or 75.9 million people, will shop from their office this year.

Most favored on Black Friday were purchases for higher-priced electronic devices. Up from 2009, the average Black Friday shopper was expected to spend $435 while Cyber Monday shoppers are expected to spend $387.

According to an NRF survey, Internet promotion is becoming more commonplace.

The survey found 88 percent of retailers had a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 72 percent just two years ago. Forty-nine percent of retailers have a specific Cyber Monday promotion in mind, up seven percent from last year.

“Cyber Monday has become such a crucial component of the holiday season that many retailers – and shoppers – don’t remember the holidays without it. And just when we think that Cyber Monday can’t get any bigger, it does,” stated Joan Broughton, of Shop.org.

Kathy Grannis of the NRF said both pure play companies – stores without a physical presence like Amazon or Netflix – and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have taken to Cyber Monday. However, she does not see a strong impact on Black Friday sales.

“Physical retailers on Black Friday are not competing with Cyber Monday. They are reaching a different kind of shopper. In recent years, retailers began to offer Black Friday online deals to attract shoppers who want to get in on the action and may not want to get to the stores,” Grannis said. “We haven’t seen anything that would correlate a drop off in Black Friday sales.”

In disagreement, Springfield states: “I’m happily shopping from my laptop and wouldn’t dare venture out to the stores.”

To learn more about Black Friday and Cyber Monday opportunities, please visit www.blackfridayonline.com or www.cybermonday.com.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, please visit www.williamlewis.us.

This Week on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis


Interesting guests and timely topics will be on the air the week of September 12th on AM 1470 WWNN and The Credit Report with Bill Lewis.

Florida’s 34th Senator and current U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux will discuss his candidacy in the Republican race to replace Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

Commander Michael Calderin of Broward County Crimestoppers will appear and discuss the recent reenactment of the homicide of BSO Sgt. Chris Reyka and the $267,000 reward being offered in the unsolved murder of a policeman.

Foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes will appear and discuss the latest developments in the “robo-signing” controversy and investigations started by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Talk show host and attorney Lisa Macci will appear and discuss her recent move to AM 1470 WWNN and “The Justice Hour with Lisa Macci.”

Tom Lauder of RedBroward will appear and discuss his political blog where “Making Broward See Red” is not such a hard job.

Chairman Richard Denapoli of the Broward Republican Party will appear and discuss Presidency 5 and the continuing commitment of the Broward Republican Executive Committee to ensure success in the 2012 presidential election.

Cooper City Commissioner John Sims will appear and discuss the David Nall libel litigation against the city as well as other local business.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Christine C. Gill will appear and discuss “September is National Coupon Month” and initiatives at maximizing your dollar when shopping for groceries and other household goods in tough economic times.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti will appear and discuss CyberVisor, the agency’s version of Twitter, and other initiatives of the largest fully accredited law enforcement agency in America.

Criminal defense attorney John Contini will appear and discuss the importance of criminal history records sealing when seeking employment in tough economic times.

Scott Spages will appear and discuss a special screening of the documentary: “Iranium the Movie” on Friday, September 16th at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, under the Faith Forum program. 

Republican Party of Broward County Executive Director Rico Petrocelli will appear and discuss initiatives to grow the local party and upcoming events.

The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.  Bill can be heard weekday’s at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN in south Florida or by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.  Phone lines are open at (888) 565-1470. 

Extreme Coupon Shopping at CVS/pharmacy


In the last few months, Rite Aid, Target and Publix have modified their coupon policies restricting the number of store, competitor, and manufacturer coupons that shoppers can use per purchase. Now CVS/pharmacy has joined the growing list of retailers that are fighting back against extreme couponers. 

On Friday, CVS/pharmacy released a new written coupon policy aimed at clearing up confusion among shoppers.  A new “FAQ” – frequently asked questions section was also added to their website.

The published guidelines set forth new redemption guidelines for CVS/pharmacy ExtraBucks® and ExtraCare® coupons and establish which third-party manufacturer or Internet coupons will be accepted. Anything not covered in the written policy is left to the discretion of CVS/pharmacy management at the store level.

The new CVS/pharmacy policy:

The use of ExtraBucks®, CVS/pharmacy and third-party manufacturer coupons is accepted in our retail stores in accordance with the following guidelines.

General guidelines to further understand the application of CVS/pharmacy coupons (ExtraBucks and ExtraCare® Coupons) and third-party manufacturer coupons:

• CVS/pharmacy does not accept expired coupons.

• Coupons and their face value cannot be exchanged for cash or gift cards.

• Competitor coupons are not accepted at CVS/pharmacy.

• CVS/pharmacy does not accept coupons for items not carried in our stores.

• CVS/pharmacy does not currently accept coupon bar code images displayed on a smartphone, iPhone, Droid etc.

• The total value of the coupons may not exceed the value of the transaction. Sales tax must be paid if required by state law.

• Certain CVS/pharmacy coupons may be subject to state sales tax rules similar to third-party manufacturer coupons and sales tax may be charged on pre-coupon price

• Third-party manufacturer coupons are coupons issued by a third party and sales tax may be charged on pre-coupon price.

• Language at the bottom of CVS/pharmacy coupons provides specific coupon acceptance rules.

• Any coupon offer not covered in these guidelines will be accepted at the discretion of CVS/pharmacy management.

Sale Items

• CVS/pharmacy will accept manufacturer coupons for an item that is on sale.

• CVS/pharmacy will not accept percent off coupons for sale and promotional items.

• In the event that any item’s price is less than the value of the coupon, CVS/pharmacy will accept the coupon only to the price of the item. CVS/pharmacy does not provide cash back in exchange for any coupons.

Multiple Coupons

• CVS/pharmacy accepts one third-party manufacturer coupon and applicable CVS/pharmacy coupon(s) for the purchase of a single item, unless prohibited by either coupon offer.

• The number of third-party manufacturer coupons used in a transaction may not exceed the number of items in the transaction.

• The coupon amount will be reduced if it exceeds the value of the item after other discounts or coupons are applied. (For example, a $5.00 coupon for a $4.99 item will result in a $4.99 coupon value).

• CVS/pharmacy accepts multiple identical coupons for multiple qualifying items as long as there is sufficient stock to satisfy other customers, unless a limit is specified. Management reserves the right to limit the quantity of items purchased.

• CVS/pharmacy reserves the right to process coupons in any order.

Internet/Print at Home Coupons

• CVS/pharmacy accepts valid internet/print at home coupons containing a barcode.

• CVS/pharmacy will not accept reproductions or rebates.

For more information on the new CVS/pharmacy coupon redemption guidelines, please visit www.cvs.com

Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.

September is National Coupon Month


Entering its 14th year, National Coupon Month serves as a reminder that clipping coupons is an easy and fun way to save at the supermarket.  Whether you shop at Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Food Lion, Publix, Save-a-Lot, Sam’s Club, Sedanos, Sweetbay, Walmart or Winn-Dixie, shoppers have become more frugal in tough economic times.

Coupon distribution and use have substantially increased the last two years.  A recent study shows that almost 89 percent of Americans admitted using coupons when shopping in 2010.  With over 175 billion coupons offered by retailers in the first half of 2011, this growth builds upon the record-breaking trends of 2009 and 2010 when 311 billion and 330 billion coupons were distributed, respectively.

Coupons are a quick and easy way to save money at the supermarket.  According to the Promotion Marketing Association, spending as little as 20 minutes a week clipping coupons can save the average family a $1,000 a year.

Many of my friends, co-workers and social networking acquaintances wonder how I save between 60 and 70 percent at Publix.  Although I accumulate printable coupons from the Internet, the Sunday newspaper remains my favorite.  In accumulating coupons from multiple papers – including the Spanish version as the coupons are generally different – I have several for use when an item goes on sale or becomes a “BOGO” free.

Coupons come in many varieties, the most common being the manufacturer’s coupon.  This coupon provides a discount on a particular product and is distributed directly by the manufacturer. Grocery stores accept manufacturers’ coupons because they receive reimbursement upon redemption.

Most people use the Sunday newspaper as their main source of coupons. While grocery retailers allocate about 85% of their coupon distribution to a free-standing insert, Internet distribution has grown faster than all other sources combined.  The most popular online printable coupon sites are www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, www.valpak.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com and www.redplum.com

In the last few years, online promotional codes have become increasingly popular providing incentives ranging from free shipping to a percentage off discount.  According to eMarketer, digital coupons have become so popular that 88.2 million shoppers were expected to use them in 2011.

Stores and manufacturers also send coupons to shoppers who personally request them.  Obtaining coupons from these sources is as simple as searching the Internet for your favorite brand or store and typing the term “coupon” into your browser.  (For instance, typing the term “Starbucks” and “coupon” yields approximately 641,000 results.)  Most companies have a separate section for coupons or special discounts.  Thereafter, it is simply a matter of printing the coupon for redemption at the retailer.

Whether you shop at Albertsons (www.albertsonsmarket.com), BJ’s Wholesale Club (www.bjs.com), Food Lion (www.foodlion.com), Publix (www.publix.com), Save-a-Lot (www.save-a-lot.com), Sam’s Club (www.samsclub.com), Sedanos (www.sedanos.com), Sweetbay (www.sweetbaysupermarket.com), Walmart (www.walmart.com), or Winn-Dixie (www.winndixie.com), each of these retailers offer an online section for coupon savings and store discounts.  Shoppers visiting a store website need only direct themselves to the coupon section then click and print desired grocery coupons.

Thousands of websites exist that allow coupon users to buy, sell, and/or trade coupons.  Although illegal and frowned upon by eBay, this popular auction site has become number one in coupon sales.  Some of my personal favorites are www.supercouponing.com, www.retailmenot.com, www.coupondad.net, www.couponcabin.com, www.couponmom.com, and www.fatwallet.com

When it comes to “deal-of-the-day” discounts, www.groupon.com is fast becoming a leader while www.restaurant.com is my pick for restaurant gift certificates.  With more than 18,000 restaurants on the program nationally and more than 35,000 daily gift certificate options, Restaurant.com customers have saved more than $500 million through the gift certificate program.  Restaurant.com also offers deeply discounted promotional codes for loyal e-mail subscribers or Facebook friends.

In celebration of National Coupon Month, www.ilovecouponmonth.com – an online resource for coupon information, statistics, and savings tips created by www.couponsherpa.com – has provided 30 tried and true methods to maximize your shopping experience.

A common misconception among non-coupon users is that coupon shoppers have low incomes, are disadvantaged or are struggling financially in these tough economic times.  According to the Nielsen Company, a global leader in measurement and information, the biggest coupons users are college educated Caucasian women under the age of 54 with incomes in excess of $70,000 a year.

Coupons represent free money and additional income to those who indulge.  Quoting from Nielsen’s report, “the better educated and more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals, as they recognize the value of money.”  Nothing can be further from the truth in these tough economic times where grocery bills account for nearly 11 percent of the average family budget.

While finding the right coupon for specific products is easy, using them to their full potential can be more difficult.  While coupons used on a regularly priced product might save a few cents, combining them with sales or BOGO’s can substantially increase your savings.  The savvy coupon shopper pays attention to normal product prices and only uses coupons on “stacked” specials resulting in huge savings.

To learn more about National Coupon Month, please visit http://www.nationalcouponmonth.com

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us

The Basics of Coupon Shopping


In a tough economy, shoppers have become more frugal at the grocery store.  Between the rising cost of food and gas, high unemployment, and the foreclosure crisis, they are seeking more “bang for the buck.”  At the one place they can save, shoppers are clipping more coupons and saving more dollars.

We have all read stories about coupon-savvy shoppers who can feed a family of four on $100 a month.  What is their secret?  They have perfected the art of couponing.  While I cannot promise you will do quite as well, if you follow some of the below tips, you can slash your monthly grocery bill.   

Buy two newspapers.  Although circulation is down dramatically, the Miami Herald has a radio spot to remind people to buy the Sunday newspaper.  It even suggested buying an extra copy so you do not miss any of the coupons.  If bought on Saturday, the Miami Herald is only .50 a copy.  Purchasing the Spanish version of the paper will get you a totally different set of coupons not found in either the Miami Herald or the Sun-Sentinel. 

Know when to use coupons.  Contrary to popular belief, the generic version of a product is more expensive than its counterpart when purchased with a coupon.  You will need to become coupon-savvy in order to recognize when coupons are a good deal and when they are not.   Coupons work best when combined with another deal, are doubled, or utilized with a BOGO offer. 

BOGO’s or Buy One – Get One Free:  Grocery stores offer one free item with the purchase of another at full price.  Considered a “store rebate,” shoppers are welcome to match with a manufacturer’s coupon on each item as the incentives are split between the store and the manufacturer.  Coupling the multiple coupon method with a BOGO offer will drastically reduce the price and may even result in free food.

Combine coupons with in store-sales.  On a recent shopping trip to Publix, I purchased two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios on sale at 2 for $3.  I also used two $1-off manufacturer coupons, saving an additional $2.  My cost per box: only 50 cents.  When coupled with the $1 off “fresh fruit” coupon attached to each box, my total purchase price for the cereal and two small bunches of bananas was less than $1.00.  Without the coupon, each box is about $3.29.

“Double” coupons.  Double coupons are when a grocery store doubles its face value for an even larger savings.  The store gets reimbursed by the manufacturer for the value of the double coupon.  Pay attention to store policies as not all grocers will allow you to redeem coupons for more than face value.  Some stores will only double coupons under $.55, while some only double coupons on certain days of the week.

Competitor coupons: Certain grocery stores, such as Publix, will accept traditional competitor’s coupons, while others, such as Albertsons, Sweetbay, Walmart and Winn-Dixie do not.   Although no longer common and not to be expected, it does not hurt to inquire as to store specific policies while shopping at your favorite grocery store.

Buy the smallest size.  Most shoppers are under the impression that you will save more by buying in bulk.  When using a coupon, this is usually not the case.  What you must consider is the price per ounce.  While the price per ounce of the larger size is more economical without the coupon, the smaller size is the better buy with a coupon.  This is especially true when coupling a BOGO offer with two manufacturer coupons.

Find coupons online.  When you think of coupons, chances are you think of the inserts in your Sunday paper.  In the last few years, online printable coupons have become increasingly popular.  Among the most popular Internet coupon sites are www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, www.valpak.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com and www.redplum.com

Other coupon sources.  Some grocers have coupon racks within their stores.  Look for them near the customer service counter, or in the front of the store.  Coupons are also available in-store right next to the products themselves from machines sponsored by SmartSource. 

Coupon stacking:  Most grocery stores will allow you to ‘stack’ their store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon for additional savings.  These store coupons can arrive by email, snail mail, store ads, flyers or monthly magazines.  In general, these store coupons should be viewed as a “sale price”, with an additional discount for your manufacturer’s coupon.

Store Loyalty Cards:  Some grocery stores offer one-step rebates, where all store and manufacturer coupons and are tracked through a loyalty card with a single check issued back to you as a rebate on a monthly or quarterly basis.  You can apply coupons to items as you purchase them, essentially “stacking” the deals.  The rebate check is wonderful, but only if you have already purchased the item at a lower price.  If it is not at a discount before the rebate and coupon, it might not be a “real deal”.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

Grocery Shopping in Tough Economic Times


We have all heard the saying, “Nothing in life is free.” What if you could purchase groceries, toiletries and household goods at deeply discounted prices? Coupon shopping can do that. Anyone can become a great coupon shopper.

In tough economic times, Americans have become frugal while shopping. Concerned about the rising cost of food, high unemployment, and the foreclosure epidemic, consumers are seeking more “bang for the buck.” Consumers are clipping more coupons and saving more dollars.

Coupons are a quick and simple way to save money at the grocery store. According to the Promotion Marketing Association, spending 20 minutes a week clipping coupons can save the average family over $1,100 a year. Over 367 billion coupons were offered in 2010, building upon a record-shattering trend in 2009 when 311 billion coupons were distributed in the marketplace.

A recent study indicates that 89 percent of Americans regularly use coupons when shopping for groceries. In fact, nearly $3 billion was saved by consumers using coupons in 2010.

Coupons come in many varieties, the most common being the manufacturer’s coupon. This coupon provides a discount on a particular product and is distributed by the manufacturer. Stores accept manufacturers’ coupons because they receive reimbursement upon redemption.

The coupon itself dates back to a handwritten one for Coca-Cola in 1886. While retailers continue to allocate about 85 percent of coupons to the free-standing insert cooperative coupon booklet, Internet distribution is growing faster than all other media distribution. Tough times have ignited a desire to save more at the grocery store.

In the last few years, Internet promotional codes have become increasingly popular providing discounts ranging from free shipping to a percentage off the purchase price. The most popular online websites are www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, www.valpak.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com and www.redplum.com.

A common misconception among non-coupon users is that coupon shoppers have low incomes, are disadvantaged or are struggling financially in a tough economy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to the Nielsen Company, the biggest coupons users are college-educated white women under the age of 54 with average incomes of $70,000 annually. In contradicting every preconceived notion, these women have become known as “heavy coupon users.”

Among shoppers not clipping grocery coupons are those who could benefit the most. Of 100 shoppers that make less than $20,000 a year, just 1.6 percent use coupons to their best advantage.

Coupons represent free money and additional income to those who clip. Quoting from Nielsen’s report, “the better educated and more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals, as they recognize the value of money.” Nothing can be further from the truth in a tough economy where grocery bills exceed 13 percent of an average family budget.

In a category in which I belong, the savings are more dramatic. As a “coupon enthusiast” – I cannot resist the thrill of “stacking” my way to a money-saving deal, occasionally earning money back on the purchase of a BOGO item using a manufacturer’s coupon for each, and coupling with a double-coupon offer. “If it’s free – it’s for me” is quickly making its way into my vocabulary.

Defined as someone who uses 104 or more coupons in a six-month period, coupon enthusiasts accounted for 65 percent of all coupon usage and 18 percent of all purchases in 2009. Avid coupon users purchased nearly 20 percent of everything bought last year with a coupon.

Approximately 22 percent of shoppers are responsible for 83 percent of all coupons redeemed. Coupon enthusiasts love coupons and use them with such frequency that it has become a way of life. Aside from “coupon enthusiasts” and “heavy coupon users,” the remaining 78 percent of shoppers used just 17 percent of all coupons redeemed.

Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Publix, Save-a-Lot, Sam’s Club, Sedanos, Sweetbay, Walmart and Winn-Dixie each offer an online section for store discounts and coupons. Shoppers visiting the websites need only direct themselves to the coupon section and print the desired coupons.

We have all heard stories of extreme coupon shoppers reducing a hundred dollar grocery bill to next to nothing using coupons. Although possible, this is not realistic for the average shopper. In withstanding the ridicule of family, friends, fellow shoppers, and the occasional cashier, I am happy with an average savings of 60 percent at my favorite Publix.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

Coupon Shopping Made Easy


We have all heard the saying, “Nothing in life is free.”  What if you could learn how to purchase groceries, toiletries, and household goods at deeply discounted prices?  Coupon shopping can do that. Anyone can become a great coupon shopper.

In tough economic times, Americans have become more frugal while shopping.  Concerned about the rising cost of food, high unemployment, and the foreclosure epidemic, consumers are seeking more “bang for the buck.”  As such, consumers are clipping more coupons and saving more dollars.

Coupons are a quick and easy way to save money at the grocery store.  According to the Promotion Marketing Association, spending 20 minutes a week clipping coupons can save the average family about $1,100 a year. Over 164 billion coupons were offered in the first half of 2010, building upon a record-shattering trend in 2009 when 311 billion coupons were distributed in the marketplace.

A recent study indicates that 89 percent of Americans regularly use coupons when shopping for groceries.  In fact, nearly $3 billion was saved by consumers using coupons in 2010. 

Coupons come in many varieties, the most common being the manufacturer’s coupon.  This coupon provides a discount on a particular product and is distributed directly by the manufacturer. Most stores accept manufacturers’ coupons because they receive reimbursement upon redemption.

The coupon itself dates back to a handwritten one for Coca-Cola in 1886.  While retailers continue to allocate about 85% of coupons to the free-standing insert cooperative coupon booklet, Internet distribution continues to grow at a pace faster than all other media distribution.  Tough times have ignited a desire to save even more at the grocery store. 

In the last few years, online promotional codes have become increasingly popular providing discounts ranging from free shipping to a percentage off the purchase price.  Among the most popular Internet coupon sites are www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, www.valpak.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com and www.redplum.com

A common misconception among non-coupon users is that coupon shoppers have low incomes, are disadvantaged or are struggling financially in these tough economic times.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

According to the Nielsen Company, a global leader in measurement and information, the biggest coupons users are Caucasian women under the age of 54 with college degrees and average incomes of more than $70,000 per year.  In contradicting every preconceived notion, these women are among what has become known as “heavy coupon users.”

Among those shoppers that are not clipping grocery coupons are the individuals who could benefit the most.  Of 100 shoppers who make less than $20,000 a year, just 1.6 percent use coupons to their best advantage.  This startling statistic has always puzzled me.

Coupons represent free money and additional income to those who indulge.  Quoting from Nielsen’s report, “the better educated and more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals, as they recognize the value of money.”  Nothing can be further from the truth in these tough economic times where grocery bills account for nearly 12 percent of the average family budget.

On the other hand, in a category in which I apparently belong, the savings are more dramatic.  As a “coupon enthusiast” – I cannot resist the thrill of “stacking” my way to a great money-saving deal, occasionally earning money back on the purchase of a BOGO item using a manufacturer’s coupon for each, and coupling with a double coupon offer.  “If it’s free – it’s for me” is quickly making its way into my vocabulary.

Defined as someone who uses 104 or more coupons in a six-month period, coupon enthusiasts accounted for 65 percent of all coupon usage and 18 percent of all purchases in 2009.  Avid coupon users purchased nearly 20 percent of everything bought last year with a coupon.

Coupon enthusiasts love coupons and use them with such frequency that it has become a way of life.  Another startling statistic is that approximately 22 percent of shoppers are responsible for 83 percent of all coupons redeemed.  Aside from “coupon enthusiasts” and “heavy coupon users”, the remaining 78 percent of shoppers used just 17 percent of all coupons redeemed.

Whether you shop at Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Food Lion, Publix, Save-a-Lot, Sam’s Club, Sedanos, Sweetbay, Walmart or Winn-Dixie, each of these stores offer an online section for coupon savings and store discounts.  Shoppers visiting the respective websites need only direct themselves to the coupon section then click and print desired grocery coupons.

Albertsons – http://albertsonsmarket.com

BJ’s Wholesale Club – https://www.bjs.com

Food Lion – http://www.foodlion.com

Publix – http://www.publix.com

Save-a-Lot – http://save-a-lot.com

Sam’s Club – http://www.samsclub.com

Sedanos – http://www.sedanos.com

Sweetbay – http://www.sweetbaysupermarket.com

Walmart – http://www.walmart.com/cp/grocery/976759

Winn-Dixie – http://www.winndixie.com

We have all heard the stories of “Coupon Queens” or “Coupon Moms” walking into the grocery store and reducing a hundred dollar bill to about ten dollars by using coupons.  Although possible, this is not realistic for the average shopper.  In withstanding the ridicule of family, friends, fellow shoppers, and the occasional cashier, I am happy with an average savings of 60 percent at my favorite Publix. 

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.