Fun facts about coupons

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September is National Coupon Month and I'm in to celebrate those slick little slips eight days a week.

Laugh if you want, but I see coupons for exactly what they are: free money.

I'm not the only bargainista who sees it that way. Scissor-wielding tightwads saved nearly $4 billion using coupons in the first half of this year. But consumers could be saving up to $10,000 a year using coupons, says a new Largo-based Valpak survey.

Just for giggles, I dug up some history thanks to Coupons.com and NCH Marketing, which distributes the RedPlum inserts in Sunday's paper.

Founding father of coupons: Credit goes Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton. The Atlanta pharmacist offered certificates try the new fangled soda pop for free in 1887.

Most frugal cities: Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Nashville and Charlotte. I am disappointed to report that Miami ranked 35th.

First grocery coupon: C.W. Post offered the a penny-off coupon on Grape Nuts cereal in 1895.

Celeb cheapskates: Kristen Bell, Jay Leno and Lady Gaga, who tweets about using coupons at the grocery store. Bell says she's been known to steal coupons out of neighbors' mailboxes.

Coupons: By the Numbers

305 billion: Coupons circulated in 2013

2.9 billion: Coupons redeemed in 2013

$3.7 billion: Amount consumers saved using them in 2013

$10,000: Average yearly amount consumers could save using coupons

1887: Year first coupon was created

$450 billion: Potential savings of coupons in circulation

5: Top coupon retailers are Walmart, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Pulbix

88 percent: Percent of consumers who use some coupons at the grocery store

9: Average weeks before a coupon expires

42: Percentage of coupons requiring purchase of two products.

8.1: Percent redemption has declined due to shortened expiration dates, expanded purchase requirements.

Sources: Coupons.com, NCH Marketing, Valassis and Savings.com

Free entry at state parks

Use your library card to get free admission at Florida state parks on Sunday to celebrate International Literacy Day. The state park system will waive entry fees when you show a library card or checked-out book or donate a family-friendly book at the gate.

Go SunSentinel.com/FreeParkVisit to find a park.

What's your deal? Share it at dchristensen@SunSentinel.com.

"Like" my Sentinel Deals fan page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.
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