Coupon use is up. How shocking!

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couponA new report says coupon use is up 27% from 2008 to 2009. This is the first time coupon clipping has increased in 17 years, but puh-leeze, tell me something I don't know. The Great Recession made folks frugal? NO!

The list of folks not surprised by this trend includes Stephanie Nelson, a long-time coupon clipper who runs CouponMom.com. More people are using her site and her tips to become effective clippers than ever before.

Nelson's new book, "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half" compiles all her tips. In 295 pages spread over 21 chapters, she shares practical strategies for folks who want to dramatically reduce their bill at grocery and drug stores. Following her tips will take a few minutes extra, but the savings pay off. And you'll get quicker over time.

If you don't buy her book (selling for $9 on Amazon, marked down from $15), I've summarized some of her best tips:
  • Become a "strategic shopper," by buying ahead of need. Stock up when prices are low, then "shop your freezer" when prices rise.
  • Combine coupons from the Sunday newspaper with ones you can print online.
  • Save coupons until an item is on sale, and then consider buying more than three of an item if it saves you even more.
  • Plan meals ahead and make one weekly trip to the store. "Sticking to your list easily shaves25% or more off your total bill," Nelson says.
  • Compare prices. Buying orange juice from frozen concentrate and tubs of yogurt is not always cheaper than the alternative.
The book also has a 14-question quiz to determine what kind of shopper you are, and specifically addresses how to reduce costs at warehouses, and when you buy meat, produce, dairy, snacks, organic products, drugstore items, and non-grocery items. The book covers a lot of ground.

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