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Coupons: How useful are they?
News reports have mentioned more consumers turning to coupons as the recession continues. Reuters reported in March that coupon redemptions jumped 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with 2007. It's not just supermarket clippers, either. Coupons from mass merchandisers have taken a bigger market share compared with previous years.
I'm somewhat ambivalent about coupons. Sometimes they can save a bunch of money, especially those with 40-60 percent off selected items. On the other hand, one can end up buying about 12 items to save $2, with the sneaking suspicion that more was spent than was actually saved. I've also had trouble with printing off coupons — sometimes the printer doesn't work, or the coupon Web site crashes.
Finally, coupons can just run out on you — as several people experienced with the KFC free meal coupon publicized by Oprah Winfrey — scroll down to read the brief.
What's been your experience with coupons and promotions? Do you find them useful, irrelevant or just annoying?