The holidays can leave families with empty wallets after cooking big meals and buying gifts.

University of Missouri Chair of the Personal Financial Planning department says coupons can sometimes do as much damage as good, if they’re not used properly. Robert Weagley says before clipping though the Sunday paper, people need to make a plan for saving.

He says one way to do that is to make a list of things you buy every time you go to the grocery store, and then search online or in local papers for coupons for those items. He says to also look for local stores that allow “stacking coupons,” or using a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon for compound savings.

Weagley says there were 2.6 billion coupons used in 2008, but there were 4.6 used in 1999. He says 2009 was better than that. He says it could be due to people losing their jobs and needing to make ends meet, or it could be due to shows like “Extreme Couponing” that show people getting hundreds of dollars in groceries for almost no money.

AUDIO Allison Blood reports. Mp3 [1:03]