Clipping coupons can certainly cut down on a grocery bill, but consumers don't need to spend excessive amounts of time with scissors to see substantial savings. Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
There are those who clip coupons and those who take it to the extreme. Melissa Zambito, a mother from Piffard, N.Y. whose high couponing caliber landed her on the show "Extreme Couponing" calls coupons "legal shoplifting."
But just like time is money, saving money takes time. Zambito spends roughly 20 hours a week clipping and categorizing her coupons, and mapping out her strategy before she hits the stores.
However, Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com says using coupons does not need to consume a shopper's life or basement.
"The reality is you can save a tremendous amount of money," says Pavini. "You can save thousands of dollars a year using coupons and using different strategies with an investment of a modest amount of time."
Rather than 20 hours a week, Pavini says shoppers should just spend 20 minutes going through newspaper inserts and surfing for coupons online and can still shave hundreds off a monthly grocery bill.
"If you can save $200 a month on groceries, and so maybe $50 a week, and you're investing 20 minutes, well, 20 minutes for $50, that's worth it to me," says Pavini.
She says the first place to look is not at the coupons themselves, but rather the store circulars. They may not have clippable coupons, but shoppers can still find tons of savings, no scissors required.
"The circular is your best friend. You look at the circular and you build your weekly menu off of what is on sale," says Pavini. "Once you have that menu established, you look for coupons that match what's on sale, so that you get double the savings, and then clip coupons and print coupons for things that you would need anyway, even if it's not on sale."
Whether shoppers have one coupon in their wallet or a binder-full, like Zambito, there is no need to be embarrassed when approaching a cash register. Couponing is in, as is saving money.
Pavini says, "3.3 billion coupons were redeemed last year -- 3.3 billion coupons, that's a lot of coupons. It's like the new black."
"Extreme Couponing" airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. on TLC.