Friday, December 7, 2012

Frugal Friday: To Coupon, or Not To Coupon? That is the Question.

       The coupon craze has really taken off lately. Couponing bootcamps and workshops are everywhere! There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel here, because there are already so many coupon blogs that do a great job of bringing you all the great deals. Here are my favorites.

But, I thought that I would give a "mother of a large family on one income" perspective to couponing. 

First of all........where do you get coupons?

Here are the most common sources............

From the Internet: Coupon websites will change the coupons they offer every month or so, and can be selected and printed from your computer. Often times there is a "two print" limit per computer. Check out my favorite coupon blogs for coupon lists and store match ups. Just a word of caution: When you redeem your printed coupons at the store register, make sure the amount is deducted from your total. One of my local stores has to manually take off my printed coupon amounts from my total. Even though it would beep like it went through, the amounts would not be taken off the total. (Also remember that paper and ink costs add up!)

From the Store: Companies like happy customers and will often mail or email out coupons on a regular basis. Many companies offer coupons on their websites and many are now on a company page on Facebook. "Percent off entire purchase" coupons and "free shipping" are my favorites!

From the Sunday Paper: The Sunday newspaper still comes with good, old fashioned coupon inserts. And, don't forget you can buy more than one paper!

From 'peelies' on the product: Sometimes you will find a coupon that you can "peel off" the product and use right away at the register.

From store tear pads: Sometimes store will put out pads of coupons, or have the little red coupon holders right on the store shelves.

From a Coupon Service: You can order batches of coupons or specific coupons from a coupon cutting service. I've never used one of these, but if you are a serious couponer, it may be worth it to you.

The Drug Store Game: Many chain drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) offer a "rewards" program. If you buy a certain product, you get a "reward" at the register, that can then be used basically as cash on your next transaction. My favorite coupon blogs offer great explanations and tutorials on how to get started.

I have couponed on and off for many years. Here are some ups and downs that I've found..........

Pros of Couponing:

-Saving money! It's great to watch cents and dollars just roll right off your register total! Many stores allow you to use a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon to double your savings. Pair that up with a Buy One, Get One Free Sale and, look out- you 've spent next to nothing for bags of stuff!

-Well, saving money is about the only pro I can think of. Saving money, I mean itsn't that enough?

Cons of Couponing:

-Couponing takes time. And, sometimes lots of time. There's the printing, cutting, organizing, looking for deals, price matching, not to mention maybe going to several stores every week. I know, some stores do price match, but usually only if it is the exact same product. As a mom of ten kids, my time is pretty valuable. And, I have to evaluate if the money I'm saving is worth the time it take to do all of these things. Not to mention, I have to leave the kids home, while I go out shopping several times a week. It has the ability to become quite consuming.

-Stress. I just love the feeling when a good deal works out and saves me lots of money. BUT, I get very stressed out when I've put a lot of effort into something that doesn't work out. When that total is not what I thought it would be, trying to keep track of  all the deals, or the store is already out of a certain item that I had planned on getting, I can feel my blood pressure rise, and my face get flushed, and I'm ready to throw my coupons on the floor and stomp my feet. I have to step back and reevaluate if what I'm doing is worth the trouble.

-Would I have bought this if I hadn't had the coupon?  You can't be too brand loyal or picky with couponing. Sometimes a coupon comes along for your favorite whatever, but more often than not, the coupon will be for something you may not normally buy. So, if it's something I wouldn't normally buy, am I really saving any money? Now, if I need shampoo and I have a coupon for a different brand and I would save $1, certainly I could save money here. But, if I normally wouldn't buy "Yummy Crackers" but I have a coupon for 4 boxes for $5, then I'm spending $5 I wouldn't normally have spent. Even if it is a really good deal.

So, those are my thoughts on coupons. If couponing is worth it to you, then do it. Sometimes, I do coupons only part time, meaning if I have the time I will, but if I don't then I won't.

Do you have any coupon advice to share?


Wendy said...

Great tips! Can I ask about how much you save when you put your mind to it?

My favorite site is I just like the ease of matching the coupons with the stores the way they do it. My dismay with it is that I can't find all the coupons they mention - but I've found that with most of the coupon sites. :( But, between that and scouring the flyers for meats, veggies and other sale items we need, I can usually save 30% without too, too much effort.

I need to get the boys working on doing the matching for me so they can see how math works in the real world applications ;-)

Courtney said...

Well, before we moved and I shopped at Kroger I could save probably anywhere from 30-50%, but here there is no Kroger :( so I mostly just shop at Wal-Mart. You're doing good with 30%! Most of my savings these days are on non-food things like clothes and such (which I have a separate post coming). I try to never pay full price for anything, and usually can find some pretty good discounts.

Wendy said...

Good! I need to work on non-food things! The only way I've seen people save there is when they get the manager involved to give them a deal and I don't think I'm quite that outgoing. LOL

Courtney said...

Ha! No, I don't get the manager involved, but hmmm, I'll do a post on that this week!

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