Can Learning How to Coupon Save Me Money?

Paper coupons in circulars and newspapers can still be fruitful, but you need to go through the trouble of looking for them, cutting them up, and being that person in the checkout line. (And in that case, follow good coupon etiquette: O’Connell suggests having all your coupons ready before you get to the cashier, and perhaps even warning the people behind you, in case they want to switch to a different line.) You can try the app SnipSnap to take photos of paper coupons instead of physically bringing them — but that only helps part of the problem.

If you’d rather steer clear of paper entirely, you’re in good company. A recent study by data-science firm Inmar found that traditional coupon redemption (i.e., using the paper variety) is on a steep decline, despite wide availability. “Today, shoppers — particularly millennials — are much less willing to put in the kind of work that traditional coupon-clipping entails,” said Anita Bhappu, a consumer scientist and professor at the University of Arizona. And although the tides of retail are slow to shift, they are turning in your direction. “We’ve found that millennials are very reward-driven in their couponing habits, and retailers are coming around,” adds Bhappu. “We use the term ‘gamification’: Millennials grew up playing games on their phones and computers, so they are conditioned to expect a reward every time they pass a level. This generation asks, ‘How can I work at this to aggregate and amass rewards, like cash or other benefits, that I can use towards things I want?’”

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