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Lifestyle

August 30, 2013

New couponing rules don't have to affect savings

What do you do when the coupon game changes? For many of us, we keep playing by the new rules, whatever the ‘new normal’ turns out to be.

Dear Jill,

I’ve shopped as long as I can remember at a store that doubles all 50-cent coupons up to $1. The store announced recently that this entire chain is getting rid of double coupons! I can’t believe it and I have no idea how I am going to be a good couponer now. The store said on the news that they are doing this so they can lower prices for everyone instead of doubling coupons for a few shoppers. But I am one of those few. Any advice?

Meaghan S.

There’s a popular acronym around web forums devoted to couponing - ‘LOND.’ It stands for Land Of No Doubles, and it’s the land I live and shop in most of the time. So, welcome to LOND! While your game has changed a bit, you’re still going to save with coupons. I do!

First, while your 50-cent coupons are now worth 50 cents, not $1, your savings strategy hasn’t changed. You still want to cut the non-sale price in half with coupons, a sale or the combination of both. Where I live in Chicagoland, there are no stores that double every coupon every day. For that luxury, I have to drive about 35 minutes west of where I live. When I’m in that area, of course I shop at the stores that double - but more often than not, I shop at supermarkets that are less than five miles from home. (Gas savings has to count too.)

As someone who shops at both stores that double and stores that don’t, I can share some interesting observations. The stores that don’t double, on average, have slightly lower prices than the ones that double - also lending some weight to your store’s statement that it will be dropping prices in lieu of doubling. One aspect of doubles that I find shoppers rarely give thought to is that the store is typically the party paying for the doubled coupon discount, not the manufacturer. With grocery store margins very tight (I’ve read that most stores operate on less than a 5 percent profit margin) it’s understandable that stores want to keep their operating costs manageable. And, if a store stops doubling coupons, but uses some of that savings to lower prices in the store for its shoppers too, there could be a positive outcome for you as well.

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