We're all familiar with shrinking products in the grocery store: Those cereal boxes or jugs of detergent that give you less and less every year.
But you may not be as familiar with another disturbing new trend: Shrinking grocery coupons.
Has to buy more and more
Bill Lawrence is an avid coupon user who faithfully clips the Sunday newspaper, and grabs whatever is on sale. But he's noticed himself having to buy more and more products in recent months.
He said "early last year you could get Cheerios for 50 cents off one box. Well, that went to $1 off on two boxes. Then I noticed the first coupons that came out this year, its $1 on three boxes."
It's not just breakfast cereal. Lawrence says many products are now requiring him to buy two, three or four items to get the coupon discount.
The latest: coffee. "I have an older coupon for $1 off on one, and a coupon I clipped shortly after made it $1 off on two," said Lawrence.
Some coupon websites blame the TLC show " Extreme Couponing," which has spawned armies of coupon hoarders.
Others say it's a way for merchants to sell more product, while still offering coupons.
What can you do?
Coupon blogger Heather Tenney -- of CincySavers.com -- suggests trying online coupons from Coupons.com or Smartsource.com.
She says they tend to have bigger values, like $1 or $2, instead of 50 cents.
"These are different. You tend to get higher value coupons online, because they can control how many come out and where they go," said Tenney.
Lawrence says it's getting tough to buy so much breakfast cereal, just to get a 50-cent discount. "Three boxes in a week is a bit much for me, " he said.
Secret sales strategy
Manufactures will not publicly explain how they decide a coupon's value. However, Tenney says it all depends on how badly they want to sell a product.
If it's a new item, the coupon value can be high for one item. But if it's already a big seller their goal may be selling you two or three boxes at once.
Keep that in mind so you don't waste your money.
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