Atlantans know their stuff when it comes to saving money. We clip, print and download coupons better than any other city in the country. That’s the word according to Coupons.com, the coupon Web site that released its Top Cities list this week.
At the top of the heap is Atlanta and its 2009 average of $531 a year saved per household using the site. Rounding out the top five are Tampa, Cincinnati, Saint Louis and Minneapolis.
“I’m not surprised,” said Nicole Salmons of McDonough. “I’ve seen more women in stores with coupon binders and holders than I’ve ever seen.”
But don’t think for one minute that women, though dominant in the coupon market, are doing it alone. Men like Matt Park, a 33-year-old married father of two, are in the game and playing to win. Park, who works in sales, says he saves an average of $125-$150 per week shopping, including coupons and sales. He spent $200 at CVS last year — and saved $2,000. On a recent trip to Publix, Park spent $29 and saved $67, including using $22 worth of coupons.
“It has become a hobby,” he said. “The goal, really, is to spend as little as you possibly can.”
He admits his devotion borders on fanaticism, but don’t look for an apology from the man who uses a spreadsheet to keep track of his savings.
“The way I look at it is for every hour I spend doing this, I make or save $50.”
His motivation is not unique, said Jeanette Pavini, a household savings expert for Coupons.com. In the 18-24-year-old age group, use of the site jumped 275 percent in 2009. Along with Sunday newspaper coupon circulars, coupons have become more accessible through technology like mobile applications and downloading capability on savings cards. Pavini said economic conditions have thrust this shopping strategy into the forefront, but ease of use and financial rewards will sustain it.
“It comes down to free money,” she said.
Salmons, 38, spends about three hours a week collecting coupons. She uses a variety of sites, including Southernsavers.com, which does most of the work by matching store sales with coupons. In the end, it amounts to a saving of at least $120 a month.
“I get a rush when I look at my grocery receipt and see how much I’ve saved,” she said.
Countless coupon sites have flooded the online marketplace, so it helps to know which are best. Among the industry leaders, in addition to Coupons.com, are Retailmenot.com, CouponMom.com, Eversave.com, Couponcabin.com and Smartsource.com. For more on each site and why the experts prefer them, click here.
Said Salmons: “Even if the economy was normal, every penny helps. It’s important to keep in mind that one never knows what financial set-back may be around the corner — especially now.”
How much have you saved using coupons? What’s your coupon shopping strategy?
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