Thanks to inflation, millennials are couponing like never before. And thanks to social media, it's become somewhat cool to do.

Thanks to inflation, millennials are couponing like never before. And thanks to social media, it's become somewhat cool to do.
Photo of TikToker and couponer Kiersti Torok.
Photo of TikToker Kiersti Torok with a bunch of household goods she nabbed with coupons.Kiersti Torok
  • With current inflation rates, couponing is an effective way to save money on everyday products.

  • Many millennials are learning how to do it for the first time.

  • "It's not something embarrassing — it's a way to save," said one TikToker who's become famous for sharing tips.

Millennials are quick to dismiss their association with the $8 avocado toast breakfast, and for good reason. Their economic realities are different, and arguably more difficult than the generations before them.

This shift, however, has resulted in some unique financial strategies, as more and more turn to side hustles, alternative investments, and saving money however they can, including through couponing.

What was once something only grandmas did is now one of the trendiest ways to save money, thanks to social media visibility. With inflation rates and the cost of living rising in 2022, couponing has become more and more common. It's estimated that $91 billion in coupons have been redeemed last year, and 97% of people have reported using a coupon at least once. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #coupon brings up 863 million posts, as couponing content creators turn to social media platforms to broadcast their hauls and teach others how to save money.

Here's how couponing has changed and taken on new meaning with a new generation.

How social media made couponing cool


For most people, couponing was born out of the necessity to save money during hard financial times. Kiersti Torok, who has two million followers on TikTok, says that couponing became important to her family several times over her life. Her parents lost their jobs after the recession in 2008, which is when she learned to coupon from her mom.

She hadn't been regularly doing it, but when she lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic, she went into full couponing mode to provide for her kids. Torok began sharing her experiences with others online, who quickly signed up to follow her for her cheery personality and smart shopping deals. Now, she's a full-time coupon content creator.

"It just resonated with people because I was showing that you want don't have to use crazy paper coupons," she told Insider. "And, it's not something embarrassing — it's a way to save."

The same is true for Star Smith, whose YouTube channel showing her couponing hauls has built over 200,000 subscribers. In 2010, she found herself as a young single parent to a child in diapers who needed to find ways to make ends meet. "It's since become a lifestyle for me," she said. Couponing crazes come and go, but people are paying more attention to her content than ever before.

"A lot of people have come to me because of inflation," Smith said. " Couponing is a natural response to people trying to figure out ways to cope with rising prices."

Couponing has gone digital


Torok does most of her deals electronically, like using retail apps and cash-back platforms like Ibotta and Fetch. Almost all the best coupons are available for use and purchase on her phone — and some of them are available for delivery so she won't even need to leave her home.

She hunts for coupons using the same weekly ads and mailers that have been around for ages, which makes it easy for her to predict how much she can save and when. But she suspects paper coupons won't be around much longer.

"People can really save so much time now doing it on their phone," she said."I know plenty of people who have never touched a paper coupon."

Torok and Smith said getting into couponing is easy and accessible; it just takes a bit of planning.

 "There's no secret sauce," Torok said, noting that it only takes her about five-to-ten minutes to look through the ads. She added she also comes across unexpected deals all the time while she's in-store shopping. It takes coordination, but the rewards can really pay off. You can win free items and, on rare occasions, nab a "money-maker," or a term couponers have given to deals where they make more in cashback than they originally paid for the item.

Torok likens couponing to "a video game for adults."

She explained that a lot of the excess stuff that she and the couponing community get they will donate.  "We have more of a community aspect to our generation, so we think, 'If I can get it for free, it's fun for me [to do so], and I can give it away for free, why not?'"

Experts say couponing is also an emotional coping tool The Target diaper deals this week are 🔥🔥🔥 Score an entire cart full of diapers and wipes for a fraction of the price! #torokcouponhunter #savingmoney #targethaul #targetdealsthisweek ♬ original sound - Kiersti Torok

The millennial mindset differs from past generations for many reasons. Millennials are finding new meaning in old habits. Life coach and mentor Ashley Bernardi believes couponing could be used as a trauma response to larger societal hardships. She explained that money is a way to exert control when the world may seem out of control, so it makes sense that a generation bereft of economic and socio-political changes would turn to couponing.

"Every couple of years there seems to have been a reason for anyone to experience a trauma response, and I can see why millennials may turn to couponing to help cope," said Bernardi.

Torok began couponing as a way to financially and emotionally cope with her job loss, but now it's a point of pride for her to be a couponer.

"Our parents didn't shop sales," Torok said. "They thought that if you didn't pay full price for it, it wasn't a good item. But it's our generation that is really saving."

Read the original article on Insider