Brewerton (WSYR-TV) - You may have noticed it during your last trip to the grocery store – using coupons to save money isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Reality shows like Extreme Couponing have made coupon use more popular than ever. And because of that, some Central New York stores are tightening their policies.
In the immediate area around Syracuse, Wegmans, Tops, and Price Chopper all say they'll only double coupons for 99 cents or less. The stores are also limiting shoppers to four coupons per item.
Price Chopper and Wegmans will now only accept competitors’ coupons if they specify a product size.
Tops won’t accept them at all. Recently, Tops added to its policy, allowing store managers to use their discretion to limit the number of coupons a customer can use at the time of checkout.
Despite the so called crackdown, there are still ways for families to save money while grocery shopping.
Expert shopper Lauren Greutmen has saved thousands using coupons – even with the new restrictions. One of the cornerstones of her coupon strategy is organizing coupons by each aisle.
But she also knows where to look. Greutmen doesn’t limit herself to the Sunday newspaper. She looks in the stores themselves for coupons and also in the pharmacies. She also looks online on the store’s Facebook page or on the manufacturer’s websites.
“You can use a manufacturer’s coupon like these newspaper ones with this,” Greutmen said. “It’s called stacking, so it’s even more savings.”
The other key, Greutmen says, is knowing when to use the coupons. Using them right away may not be the shrewd shopper’s best option. Holding out may lead to new sales that, combined with the coupon, can become big savings.
"There's a sale cycle. Things can come and if something's on sale this week, it probably will be in another six, eight weeks,” Greutmen said.
Tops and other stores say the changes to their coupon policies are meant to ensure their shelves aren’t cleared out by extreme coupon shoppers. They’re also meant to keep shoppers from clogging checkout lines by using excessive numbers of coupons.