Make coupons work for you

WASHINGTON — Many coupon masters become stockpilers.

Take Sam Pocker, a 31-year-old New York resident who has been clipping coupons for years and produces a free weekly radio show online to share his strategies. He also appears in YouTube videos showing viewers exactly how he clips and organizes coupons and manages all the products he ends up getting, often for free. "There's a bit of an art to that," he said.

Some tips: Rotate your canned goods so you can easily get to the ones that are set to expire the soonest; freeze your fresh fruit; and organize your freezer with baskets and boxes to maximize space.

Coupon masters said you don't have to take the practice to extremes.

Kim Danger, a family-savings expert who runs, said you should start out small. Only clip coupons for items you know you will use. "You don't have to clip every coupon," she said.

Many people mock coupon users, saying they spend too much time trying to perfect their strategies for a minimal amount of savings. The typical family saves $5.20 to $9.60 per week using coupons, the Coupon Council found. Peter Meyers, vice president of marketing for ICOM Information & Communications, said he sees an average of 10 to 25 percent savings on grocery bills.

Manufacturers such as Pillsbury and General Mills have created coupon galleries on their Web sites. Even grocery store chains that in the past relied on their in-store circulars to advertise specials are now making their coupons available online.

Still, of all the coupons out there, the paperless ones make up no more than 1 percent. That's because printing coupons off the Internet requires paper and work. And some retailers accept only the old-fashioned ones you clip out of a newspaper.

Plenty of Web sites, such as and, offer tips and/or spot good bargains. Don't forget to check the manufacturers' or brands' Web sites. Consider scouring eBay for coupons. Shoppers often exchange coupons that way. Remember to check store receipts or the product boxes themselves — they often come with coupons.

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