Expert coupon clippers, those people who tirelessly match coupons and sales to slice their grocery bills by double digits, have noticed something new in the supermarket aisles: less competition.
"What is wrong with them," jokes Kati Kiefer of TrueCouponing.com, her bargain-hunting website. "I never pay full price."
Kiefer hosts classes for families that are interested in saving money. She teaches students how to scour the Sunday newspapers and coordinate coupons with sales or buy-on-get-one-free deals to maximize their savings. After reaching a peak the past few years, interest has waned a bit.
"I think people started to get tired," Kiefer said. She has seen once-relentless penny pinchers begin to ask themselves one crucial question: "Is it worth your time?"
She's on to something.
Research from Inmar, a company that collects coupons for grocery stores to receive reimbursement, reveals coupon use fell by 500 million in 2012 compared with 2011.
Also, face values have fallen and certain terms have become stricter – perhaps an explanation for some of the drop off.
A mere one percent of manufacturers' coupons were redeemed in 2012, according to Inmar. The remaining 99 percent were left to expire.
But those deals don't have to go to waste.
EXPIRED COUPONS REVIVED
"It's not common knowledge," said Liza Ford, the penny-pincher writer behind AddictedToSaving.com. Surrounded a coupon's spread out on the dining room table she belts out her tag line:
"Helping you save money is my full time job!"
Despite an expiration date clearly printed on nearly every manufacturer's coupon, Ford said expired coupons are still valid for members of the military who are stationed overseas.
"I adopted a base in Vincenza, Italy," she said.
Ford's readers nationwide (she boasts 60,000 friends on Facebook) send her boxes of expired coupons, which she in turn sends to Italy for use by U.S. forces in the base commissary.
"We can't use them, we can't take them to the store," she said. "But people can use them overseas."
Ford says military families are permitted to use expired coupons six months past the date printed on them.
"So if it expires in March," she said, "that's September."
If you'd like to donate your unused or expired coupons to military families overseas, please clip them, separate them into food and non-food, and mail them to:
Addicted to Saving
8348 Little Road
New Port Richey, FL 34654