Do I need to tell you coupons are hot? Groupon is often in the news. You hear about how many billions it’s worth, its anticipated IPO and its controversial accounting metric ACSOI (now dropped).
Of the top 10 personal finance blogs compiled by Wisebread, at least 6 are in the coupon and bargain shopping category, above long time leaders The Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly, and I Will Teach You To Be Rich. According to the estimated traffic charts posted by Wisebread, Money Saving Mom blog had twice as many visitors in August 2011 as Get Rich Slowly. The gap is also increasing. The estimated number of monthly unique visitors to Money Saving Mom grew by 1/3 over the last 12 months. It shrank by 1/3 at Get Rich Slowly. Coupon-sharing moms are beating out content-producing guys.
Forget about getting out of debt, better budgeting, saving more in 401k, or earning a side income. Those are old news. Coupons! Coupons are the secrets to success. People want to know what coupons to use where this week, and they will come back again and again every week.
Are coupons worth the attention they get? In this post I’m putting forward a proposition: don’t save money on groceries with coupons.
What? Why? Who’s not for saving money? Who doesn’t buy groceries? Why not save some money with coupons?
By accident, I learned a new term at work a few weeks ago. It’s called CPG, which stands for Consumer Packaged Goods, also known as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). They are the subject of those coupons: $2 off 24-pack Pepsi, $1 off Progresso soup, $0.75 off Pillsbury ready-to-bake cookies. You get the idea.
I almost never see coupons for fresh produce: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, or eggs. Have you? I only see coupons for those CPGs.
There’s our problem. You save money with coupons only when you buy CPGs. Are they good for you? You would be better off not saving money if you buy fresh produce.
I heard of the saying “you are what you eat.” I believe it. I’d be very careful about what I put into my system and not worry about saving money on groceries by buying CPGs with coupons. That makes me not as smart as those who follow coupon blogs. I’m OK with it.
Fresh produce isn’t expensive anyway. I spend about $100 a week on groceries. Most of the stuff in my shopping cart don’t have a barcode. No barcode means no coupon. I recently switched from a chain grocery store to a local grocery store. This local store is much smaller and a bit more expensive but it has better fresh produce. I tried Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) but the fixed pickup schedule didn’t quite work out for me.
I don’t save money on groceries with coupons. I suggest you don’t either.