Are Coupons Worth the Hassle?

I’ve heard people say thare-coupons-worth-the-hassleat by clipping coupons, you can save up to $100 a month on your grocery bill. Back when I had no money at all and couldn’t use my time to earn any income, I learned how to do coupons just to survive. And what people say is true, but it is also tedious. Right now in my life, if I can spend an hour recording a workshop instead of clipping coupons, that hour will yield me money for the rest of my life instead of a few measly dollars for just one week.

When you’re desperate to feed your kids, you’re not as irritated by having to clip coupons. Ideally, you want the item to go on sale before you use the coupon. This way you can sometimes get the item for free. Strangely, sometimes I even came out ahead, with the grocery store paying me to get the item. I know it seems weird, but the manufacturer pays some of it, so the grocery store still gets money even when you didn’t pay a penny.

are-coupons-worth-the-hassle-2Coupons expire. And if you’re not a die-hard coupon person, if you’ve already spent money on gasoline to get to the store, you might as well use all your coupons on the spot and be done with it. To wait for every single thing to be on sale would take forever, and who wants to do that? Not me.

Instead of using coupons now, I just follow the major sales in grocery stores, called loss leaders. For example, a local grocery store has a cereal sale where Cheerios and other well-known cereals sell for $1.69 a box. I buy 70 boxes. Yes, you heard me right. If you find the rock bottom price, stock up. Your grocery bill will be lower for the next few months because you are buying no cereal. You’re saving a ton of money.

Despite the fact that I don’t do heavy couponing any more, I still use coupons to my advantage with virtually no work on my part:

1. I use Costco coupons. While my husband drives to Costco, I flip through the booklet of coupons we’re sent in the mail, and I tear them out. These are coupons for toilet paper and other things we buy all the time, and it’s always several dollars off, not just 25 cents. And since I’m sitting in the car doing nothing anyway, it doesn’t take up time.

2. Resale shop coupons are fun. There are five resale shops in my neighborhood that are quite good. (I realize that Goodwill-type stores in some towns are nasty, icky, and musty, but other cities have awesome, expensive name-brand stuff for a dollar or two.) Whenever I have a coupon for a resale store, I use it. The item I’m buying, like a new-looking jacket for my son for $4, ends up costing only $2 with a 50% off coupon. If a whole stack of clothes are 50% off, you can get a fresh wardrobe for your children for the new school year for just pennies to the dollar.

3. Coupons for going to an expensive place are also worth using. Places with roller coasters, for example, often have coupons for $10 off. Sometimes it’s buy one, get one free, and if the ticket to get in is $38, you’ve just had fun for a lot less money if you wanted to go there anyway.

These three types of coupons (Costco, resale shops, and expensive places) are the only coupons I do now. So to answer the initial question, β€œAre coupons worth the hassle?”, when I had babies and toddlers and was in a mental fog and had no money; yes, it was. But now that I’m not in that situation, my answer is no, they’re not worth the bother.

 

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18 Responses to “Are Coupons Worth the Hassle?”

  1. Karen Maag says:

    Shopping with coupons has changed over the past few years. It used to be a method to save a few dollars weekly at the store on the items you would use for that week.
    It has now turned into a part-time job where people stockpile for the next year. I don’t understand how it’s done anymore. Maybe I’ll conform to the new way of purchasing my grocery items after I first read “Couponing for Dummies.”

    • Susan says:

      Believe it or not, the 70 boxes of cereal are eaten before 3 months are over, because my kids eat a lot of food. So I’m not really stockpiling for more than 3 months at a time.

      You also don’t want to buy in bulk so much that the stuff expires before you eat it. LOL

  2. Janelle says:

    I agree with you. I will also say, that I found we ate WAY more convenience food (ie tons of junk) when I used more coupons. I shop at a store that will price match anything (even milk) and I will still bring coupons if I find them for the things we buy regularly. But I really just spend my time checking the weekly sales, go to the one store with my list and the price-matches listed, and get almost everything at a reduced price. With 5 kids, I just don’t have the 1/2 a lifetime it requires to really “coupon” with zeal.

  3. Renee says:

    I clip what coupons I get in Sundays paper.But alot we can get generic brand cheaper then buying the Name brand with a coupon.
    Also our Walmart refuses to use printable coupon,go figure on that.
    I found one site i print some off of to use at a different grocery store but like I said i can get generic brand cheaper then printing coupons on name brands.
    Use to we was able to get TONS of coupons but that has been a long time now…

    • Susan Evans says:

      Yes, what you’re saying is true. Sometimes the generic brand tastes horrible, though, and you want the name brand. In those instances, the coupons are worth using, if you buy that product retail anyway because your family loves that brand. But yes, going generic is way cheaper.

  4. Melissa K says:

    I could have written this post almost verbatim! I went through a period of time where I was trying to get every single deal I read about, and it was exhausting. (Especially since I was pregnant with #4 during this phase.)

    I was going to start it up again and meticulously organized an entire binder during our drive to Jackson Hole this summer. But I still wasn’t motivated. I finally concluded a couple of months ago that I can financially contribute more to our family by investing the time sewing for my Etsy shop that I would have spent clipping, filing, planning, and using the coupons. (My grocery trips always took so long!) And I enjoy it way more. πŸ™‚

    I still use coupons all the time, but mostly for the things you mentioned. And I try to do the bulk of my grocery shopping at places like Winco and the Grocery Outlet where prices are consistently lower.

    Maybe I should do a giveaway of my binder innards that took hours to prepare. Someone would score!

    • Susan Evans says:

      Oh, yes, Melissa! You raise another pain in the neck, which is that it takes WAY longer to shop. If you have all your kids with you, this can be SO not worth the small savings. I would fumble with the coupons and drop them, and have to crouch down with my pregnant belly to pick them up. No fun at all, I can tell you…

      • Melissa K says:

        And then there was the time I got to the end of checkout and discovered I had not done the deal quite correctly to get the $10 off at the end, or whatever it was (after taking forevvverrrr to go over everything in my cart multiple times first while also managing my children), and my hormonal pregnant self started to cry. It was humiliating. So not worth it!

  5. Debbie says:

    With my allergies and health issues i don’t use coupons because i buy only organic fruits, vegetables, pastas and grains etc. I get meat on sales or Costco and order much of our staple through a co-op which is significantly cheaper than health food stores. Since moving to Arizona in 2008 we are able to grow a garden Sept through late June so raise mcuh of our produce and then buy a basket from a local produce co-op that is similar to Bountiful Baskets.

    This is the food co-op I have been using for over 20 years and is all over the western half of the US
    http://www.azurestandard.com/

    http://bountifulbaskets.org/

    • Susan says:

      My friend Phyllis Hess does Azure orders once a month, which she distributes out of her home. (I don’t participate because it’s more expensive than normal supermarket food.) She does it the same day we have chess club at her house.

  6. Janice says:

    When I was a stay-at-home Mum, I was the same as you and collected and used coupons. These days there do not seem to be as many, rather loyalty cards are the big thing in the UK. This suits me better as I buy what I want rather than buying to save money. I would also waste a lot of time that could be better used now πŸ™‚

  7. Genae says:

    I have tried to coupon but its not my thing, now I am all about a deal, sale or clearance! LOL

  8. Cheri says:

    A lady I used to work with is a major coupon fiend. Sometimes she posts her hauls on facebook, and I am always amazed at the amount of money she saves (her tactics combine coupons, loss leaders, stocking up, etc). But, she is one of those major planners, lots of clipping and organizing; I don’t think I could be bothered. About the only coupons we ever use are the kind that come on the containers of things we already use, and we’ll use it next time we buy.

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