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Coupons are back in vogue and finding their way into some American pockets… the thing is, a lot of those pockets are apparently already filled with cash.

According to a new Nielsen survey, coupons have become increasingly popular with wealthy Americans. The study  reveals that the recession has created a coupon renaissance, with the number of coupons redeemed hitting its highest point since 1999.  There were approximately 3.6 billion coupons redeemed last year, a third of which were for “non-food” items. By comparison, just 2.6 billion were redeemed in 2008.  Much of this growth, it turns out, came from wealthier households.

“Households with income of $100,000 and up were the primary drivers of coupon growth in 2009,” Nielsen reports. In fact, more than 40% of all coupon “enthusiasts” are in households that have an income of at least $70,000.

Has the recession transformed America’s upper class into a bunch of frugalistas? Nielsen speculates that a big part of the reason is that coupons and promotions tend to target “areas with more affluent customers.” And many coupons that were redeemed came from newspapers, which, according to Nielsen, is something that “higher income households buy and read… more than others.” In general, Nielsen concludes that “more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals as they recognize the value of money.” That sounds like a challenge to me. As soon as I’m done writing this piece, I’m going coupon hunting.

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Of course, Americans are not just searching in newspapers and through coupon books these days, many are turning to the Internet. So check out our roundup of the best sites for coupon lovers.

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