Now, reports Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen, more than $330 billion in coupons are offered each year, and almost $3 billion worth are redeemed.
Bonnie Carlson, president of the Promotions Marketing Association, which tracks coupon use, says the average household saves 1,000 dollars a year using coupons. "86 percent of households use coupons," Carlson notes, "and that translates to 142 million shoppers."
And the age range of people using them is wide, from young to old. Seventy-one percent of young adults say they use coupons.
And today's coupons are hardly just for groceries, either. You can find them now for a vast array of products, from food, to clothes, to electronics, and much more.
To make the most of coupons, Carlson advises using an organizer when you shop, sorting them by category, and keeping the ones about to expire up front.
Moms like Cara Mirabella don't go shopping without coupons. She says it takes her about 15 minutes a week to clip and sort hers, and they save her some $200 to $300 a month.
She's even turned her love for savings into an online business, and created a Web site (www.thehouseholdhelper.com) to teach others the ins-and-outs of using coupons to their best advantage.
"Every little bit helps," Mirabella says. "It makes a big difference for my family."
On The Early Show Monday, Koeppen, herself a coupon user, said the best places to find them are in the Sunday newspaper and online. You can also call the company. Try signing up to get coupons delivered to you, by snail-mail or online, on a regular basis.
Though coupons usually have a lifespan of six-to-eight weeks, some stores take them past their expiration dates, or accept competitors' coupons, so be sure to ask, Koeppen urges.