Not surprisingly, coupon usage has been on the rise this year. Recession worries have homemakers looking for any additional way to save money.
One of the beneficiaries of this trend is Coupons.com, a website that lets people browse for coupons online, print them out at home, and then use them at the supermarket just like regular coupons. A company press release from earlier this week gives us a glimpse into some interesting facts regarding coupon usage. The most interesting is a breakdown of the top 10 coupon categories for June.
Unfortunately, the most popular coupons are probably the worst products for your health. With the exception of yogurt at #1 (more below), powdered beverage drinks, sweets snacks, cookies, salty snacks, desserts, fat laden condiments, and sugary cereals dominate the list.
Coupons are a big business, with over $1 Billion coupons redeemed last year. The food industry views them as another marketing expense.
But do they help us buy more nutritiously?
What you need to know:
The answer is a definitive NO.
Here’s why – Coupons are a great way for food manufacturers to make more money. They help a brand compete for a shopper’s dollar. They let manufacturers maintain a high regular price for a product, while providing an incentive to buy it, get used to it, and create a consumer loyalty. After a promotion period that lasts a few weeks or months, the coupon, which served as a crutch, is no longer available. If all goes well, the consumer will continue to purchase the product at full price.
Manufacturers make the most money on processed, unhealthy products such as candy, cookies, salty snacks, and soda pop (surprisingly not in the top 10). This is where they invest the most heavily in marketing, be it TV commercials, print ads, or coupons.
The more basic, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, plain whole grain rice, low fat unsweetened dairy, and lean unprocessed meats don’t enjoy any brand awareness, and therefore are not fit for couponing. Even in the yogurts category, supposedly healthy, the products being promoted are more sugary snacks (Gogurts) than the healthy unsweetened yogurts.
Buy in to all the coupon madness, and you’ll see yourself spending money on stuff you didn’t really want, getting fatter, and slowly realizing that “a penny saved is pound earned.”
One of the most common mistakes shoppers make is buying something they don’t need because it’s on sale or there is a coupon. We highly discourage you from buying a product you wouldn’t have gotten anyway, just because you can save 50 cents. Looking at it financially, the $3.00 $2.50 you did spend on some new fatty sugary cookie pack, is money down the drain.
Don’t get us wrong – utilizing a coupon for your favorite indulgence (Haagen Dazs French Vanilla anyone?) is perfectly fine. Just don’t go overboard with a shopping cart FULL of artery clogging products just to say you saved $20. In the long run, it will cost you more.
What to do at the supermarket:
Unfortunately there are no coupons for fresh produce and basic unprocessed food items. There are, however, occasional coupons for frozen and canned vegetables. These are good to stock up on because the products can live for a while in your freezer or pantry shelf.
Any other nutritious coupons you’ve come across lately? Fire away in the comments section.
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