Pros and Cons of Couponing: Is Using Coupons Worth Your Time?

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. 

PROS: 

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!
STATS: 
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!
CONS: 
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.)
MYTH: 
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.  
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    Comments

    Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    While I am a frugal girl at heart, I find myself using coupons less and less mostly because I live in a small town so shopping different stores for the best deal isn’t an option when there is only one.

    Also, we focus as much as we can on whole foods so purchasing them in bulk is where I find my savings.

    Thanks for doing such a great job pointing out both sides of the coupon coin!

    Melonie Ford

    I am a couponer, but not to the extent i use to be. Couponing did a lot to change my mindset about the money I was spending. It also has helped me to make better choices for my family. Instead of buying a lot of things for my family, I realized how cost effective it is to make it from scratch. We don’t eat a ton of processed food and its become less since I started couponing. I still do my binder but if I don’t get papers one week, I don’t stress because I know I can usually print the coupons I need. Mainly, my understanding of sale cycles and what a good price for my wallet is what I have gotten from couponing. And it cut our grocery bill in half with most of our purchases being meat and produce.

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    Alexis Hourselt

    I decided against couponing because I haven’t found it to be worth it if you eat whole foods. I don’t buy processed food very often these days, and that’s what all those coupons are for. I buy cleaning and hygiene products so rarely (that sounds bad, haha!) that it just doesn’t seem worth it to me. But if anyone sees discounts on bunches of kale and grass-fed beef, let me know. :)

    Emily

    I am conflicted about couponing, too. I have a huge organized coupon binder and my husband graciously cuts them all out for me each week, but when it comes time to put them all away, I loathe it. Then, when I throw away piles of expired coupons, I wonder if it’s worth the time! Also, to get the best deals, I have to go to several stores and with young kids (and another on the way!) it’s just plain hard.

    However, I saved my family over $3000 last year. That’s a lot of money!

    Jamey Meteer

    I was just talking about coupon-ing the other day with my husband…I’m definitely not an “extreme coupon-er”, but I do always look out for ones in the paper or mail for items I do buy frequently, like diapers or dish soap…You can also save a ton of moolah by limiting your eating out experiences to a place you have a coupon to (i.e. Costa Vidas, Subway…)
    Love all your frugality tips!