Boston — ''I started clipping because I like saving money,'' says Marion Joyce with a heavy Bronxville accent. ''Everyone does, that's why I wrote 'The Coupon Cookbook.' '' Published by McGraw-Hill, the book costs $6.95 and includes 68 coupons, from caviar to nondairy whipped topping.
Clipping coupons is not a hobby Ms. Joyce enjoys alone. Some 87 percent of the shoppers in this country read newspapers with a pair of scissors in hand. Informal coupon-swapping clubs and even coupon conventions have cropped up from coast to coast.
''Two hundred billion coupons came out last year. That's quadruple what it was a few years ago. If you don't clip them, you're throwing money away.
''You know, everyone thinks it's the poor who clip the most. Not true. What started as a middle-class phenomenon quickly grew to include middle-upper and upper classes. Now the rich are sending their maids out shopping with coupons.
''Poorer people have been on the low end because they tend to be less literate and just don't buy as many newspapers. But the number is growing,'' she says with enthusiasm.
''Some women shop with two wallets,'' Ms. Joyce says with a laugh, ''one with money to pay the grocer and one to hold the money they 'get back.' I know a doctor's wife who saved $1,500 and then went out and bought a designer dress.''
There are two reasons for manufacturers coming out with coupons, she believes.
''Either they want you to try a new product or they want you to stay loyal to the brand you're using,'' she explains.
Supermarket owners like coupons, too. ''Some stores will give you double and even triple the face value. The manufacturer only gives back the initial coupon amount. Supermarkets give the rest.''
Ms. Joyce shared some hints to coupon saving:
* Check expiration dates carefully.
* Make a folder for various categories. Paper products, soaps, dairy, etc.
* File coupons with earliest expiration dates up front.
* Clip those you don't necessarily need now. You may want the product later. Or you can swap them.
* Watch newspaper ads for double coupon days.
* Start an informal coupon-swapping club with your neighbors.
Ms. Joyce is also the author of a syndicated column, ''The Coupon Cookbook Corner,'' and hosts her own TV show out of New York, which features cooking demonstrations.