Economics on the small scale

Friday, March 31, 2006

Coupons are for suckers

Via Kevin Drum, from an LATimes article:
[...]Kathy Makowski, an Irvine grocery maven whose children roll their eyes when she starts talking about coupons. Coupons slice more than $100 a week from the family of four's grocery bill. On one recent shopping expedition, Makowski saved $199.09 through coupons and store promotions.

No wonder the kids roll their eyes: She's probably lying.

Let's assume that Mrs. Makowski, via the magic of coupon doubling saves an average of $1.78 per coupon. To reach $100 savings per week, she would have to buy on average 55 items with coupons (and an unknown number of items for which there are no coupons available), for 21 meals during the week. That means that her family of four is completely consuming at least 2.6 couponed items per meal, with no leftovers. Ever.

Also keep in mind:
Companies are offering more coupons that require a shopper to purchase two or more of the same item to achieve savings

Still, this might possibly be plausible if this woman does no cooking beyond reheating her pre-packaged food, but I don't think it would be a good bargain nutritionally, never mind financially.

The foods which you actually cook with, you might have noticed, don't tend to have coupon offers.

Now, let's be very generous and assume that she's achieving a 20% discount over her entire grocery bill. That means she's buying at least $500 worth of groceries every week. If her discount is less than 20%, then she's spending even more. At (minimum) $17.85 per person per day, that doesn't seem like much of a savings compared to fast food restaurants.

I think she might actually save more money if she put down her coupon-clipping scissors and learned how to cook.


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