'Extreme Couponers' May Be Wealthier Than You Think

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Consumers looking to save money with coupons may not be doing so because they're low on cash. In fact, it's just as likely that they have good incomes but get "extreme" about saving money anyway.

The data behind that conclusion comes from a new study from the University of Arizona’s John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences that “challenges assumptions” about extreme coupon users.

Lead researcher Anita Bhappu, a consumer science professor at the university, says that false assumptions about couponers lead people to believe that most of them are from low-income households. Not so, says Bhappu. Her team’s research shows that 24% of all coupon users make more than $75,000 annually, and about 5% have incomes more than $150,000 (Bhappu calls them “coupon divas”).

"[These savers] don’t use coupons because of financial constraints but because they perceive coupons as saving them money," says Bhappu in a statement.

The study also says that high-income earners are among the first consumers to leverage digital coupons, easily found at websites like MyCoupons.com and CellFire.com.

"Digital coupons are being adopted by the high users – they are the early adopters," Bhappu said. "Really, it's all about your belief in coupons. The divas believe coupons will save them money. Part of it is the value perception. It's not just about money – it's about time and money."

The study, which examined 250 consumers that the study designates as “household grocery shoppers,” found some additional data on couponers:

• African-Americans and Asian-Americans are more likely to not use coupons while white Americans represent 78% of the "coupon divas."

• Among the non-users, 61% had household incomes of $35,000 or less; 81% had no children living with them.

• Of the "coupon divas," 48% are men.

• "Coupon divas" generally used six or more coupons each time they went shopping during a three-month period.

• Paper coupons are still the main choice for extreme couponers. And of the 250 survey respondents, 88% said they regularly use coupons to some extent.

But it’s the high earners that interest Bhappu and her research team at the University of Arizona. It seems that the reason that extreme savers turn to coupons has as much to do with thrift as it does financial need.

Sometimes a little bit of planning can help you save as much as some coupons do. Check out MainStreet’s look at the Best New Money Apps of 2011 for some hi-tech help on saving money!

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