Andy Wise: when coupons cost you

When coupons cost you

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Teri Gault, shopping guru and CEO of The Grocery Game, is one of the biggest advocates of coupons. Her system of saving coupons and stacking them on top of store sales has revolutionized the grocery shopping of families nationwide.

Yet Gault will tell you -- there's a time to coupon and a time not to coupon.

She said coupons will cost you when you use them...

* ...AT THE WRONG TIME. She said don't be tempted to use coupons as soon as you snip them from the Sunday paper or download them from reputable web sources. Hold on to them (within their expiration dates, of course) and track store sales so you can combine coupon savings with the lower sales prices.

"There's a 12-week cycle on (store) sales, and coupons are usually good on an average of nine-and-a-half weeks -- could be more, could be less -- so all the stars align, and your coupons and sales come together for the better deals," she said.

* ...AT THE WRONG PLACE. She said it's important to compare prices among retailers because one will have a lower price on a coupon item than another. That item just might be cheaper someplace else. That's where you should stack the coupon on that product.

* ...ON THE WRONG BRAND. Sure, you may have a coupon for Cheerios, but maybe Cheerios isn't on sale that week -- and a comparable brand or store brand may be cheaper than the Cheerios coupon discount. Buy the cheaper brand instead that week and save the coupon for when Cheerios goes on sale.

* ...WHEN THE PAPER COUPON IS WORTH MORE THAN THE DIGITAL COUPON. "We have $2 off two with the digital coupon, but the paper coupon says $2 off one," demonstrated Gault. "So it's worth twice as much on the paper coupon (this week), and a lot of stores, they will not let you use the paper coupon if you have already downloaded the digital coupon."

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