I used to use coupons a lot. I was what some might call an “extreme couponer” but was definitely not like the people on the TLC show with that name, getting 3,000 boxes of cereal for free in one trip. About a year ago I wrote this post and went over the basics of couponing to save money on groceries and household needs. In the past year I have let go of couponing for the most part. I do still use coupons at craft stores, restaurants and take advantage of groupon-type deals. Even grocery-shopping sometimes, if the opportunity lends itself easily. I let it go because it became more of a frustration than a money saver for me and I decided it wasn’t worth it. I am still conflicted about this choice.
My mom is a very active couponer and basically pays half of what I pay or less for the same items. When she tells me about all of the things she has gotten for free or almost free I feel a twinge of jealousy, but I haven’t gotten back into it (yet.) Couponing is a time-commitment but it truly does save you loads of money. It works. I’m still a full-on coupon believer! It just depends on whether or not it’s worth it for you personally. So, I’ve decided to go over the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for you.
1. You can get many items for free or at least half the price that you would normally pay. Think of the savings!
2. You can stock up on many things when they are free/super cheap and don’t have to buy those items for a long time. It’s sweet to have a stockpile.
3. Couponers are more price-conscious, aware of what they are spending which lends itself to even more savings for you. Comparing prices is a good habit to be in.
4. Couponers generally make less impulse-purchases than their non-couponing counterparts.
5. You get to try a lot of new products for super cheap.
6. You get to go on a sweet vacation, go out to dinner, buy new clothes or do whatever fun things you like to do with the money you saved on food and toiletries!
Did you know that the biggest percentage of coupon enthusiasts make over $100,000 a year? The millionaire next door, anyone?
The average coupon shopper cuts their grocery bill in half. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, that could be $50 a week, or even $25 if you really go hard at it! For the exact same stuff!
1. Collecting, sorting and planning coupon shopping is time-consuming. (But: Not as time consuming as it used to be, if you follow these tips.)
2. A lot of the time, coupons are for processed foods and not healthier items like produce, dairy, etc. (But: You can just avoid the bad stuff if you want.)
3. If used incorrectly, you will actually spend more money using a coupon than you would just waiting for a sale or buying generic. You need to know what you’re doing and know coupon policies for the stores you shop at.
4. You do need to organize your coupons and remember to have them with you when you shop. (But: Smart phones help a lot with this now. Many places take coupons digitally.)
5. People in the checkout line will roll their eyes at you, and your checker might not know the policies, have to call the manager, it takes time, and is pretty embarrassing for you while you wait. (But: more for embarrassing for them when the manager confirms that you are right.)
6. So many people are “extreme couponing” in your area that you might get your shopping trip planned and end up at the store only to find out that all of the items you planned on getting have been cleaned off the shelves by other shoppers. That is a huge bummer. This is actually the main reason I stopped couponing. (But: Some stores will still give you the deal when they get their next shipment.)
I truly believe that the idea that you spend a ton more time grocery shopping if you coupon is a myth. At least, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s why: If you spend an hour or two a week planning your one shopping trip, then go to one or two stores (near each other) to buy your groceries and spend another hour doing that: 3 hours a week. If you don’t use coupons, don’t spend time planning or making a shopping list, then go to the store three different times in one week wandering around the store wondering if you’ve forgotten something or what to make that night for dinner: 3 hours a week.
So what do you think? Is couponing for you? I truly miss it sometimes.
+This post may be linked up to one of these parties.