In planning a household budget, never forget those venerable cost trimmers, shopping coupons. It's been more than a century since C.W. Post offered the first official savings coupon—a penny off his Grape-Nuts cereal. Today, the face value of coupons averages $1.37. Redemptions are at an all-time peak—3.2 billion coupons in 2009, up about 23 percent over 2008, and rising another 8 percent in the first half of 2010, according to the coupon industry.
Between $5.20 and $9.60 per week of grocery bill savings can result from about 10 minutes of gathering coupons, according to industry estimates. Industry research also suggests that 95 percent of Americans age 50-plus use coupons and that the most devoted users are some of the richest, earning more than $100,000 per year.
Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues.