Why You Should Consider Couponing

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Four months ago, I was on vacation with my family when my son turned on the TV and I saw some extreme coupon experts help a family get more than $400 worth of groceries for $35. There's a clip of the video below. Up until that time, I thought coupons could save $10 - $15 on groceries and weren’t worth the time it takes to clip them. I was shocked to see people save $10,000 a year by changing their approach on how to shop for groceries. Being someone who loves a deal, I decided to try my hand at this whole coupon thing. The result? It took a little while to master, but I am happy to report that I have personally cut my grocery bills by 65-70%!! I'm still pinching myself!

Getting started was easy. Thankfully there are a lot of websites out there with videos to train coupon newbies. I figured I would be bad before I would be good and that I just needed to jump in without over thinking it. I had to let couponing marinate in my brain for a while for me to “get it.”

First Steps to Get Started

  1. Get some Coupons - Get the Sunday Paper, multiple copies if possible. The more coupons you get, the better. If you don't want to spend money on the paper, you can get free coupons in the mail if you write to the companies of your favorite brands or you can also get printable coupons.
  2. Purchase some type of organizational tool. I started with a flash card size accordion folder for the first set of coupons I cut from the Sunday paper. I've graduated to a full 3" binder, which I think is best. There are online videos on the coupon sites recommended above to teach you how to set this up.
  3. Familiarize yourself with some coupon basics by visiting some of the more popular coupon sites. My favorites are The Krazy Coupon Lady, Coupon Mom and Coupon Suzy. The Krazy Coupon Lady has great videos and will show you overall how to shop for groceries with step by step instructions. Coupon Mom has a lot of the same information but they also have grocery lists you can print out showing the deals in your state. Coupon Suzy has printable coupons and online discount codes.
  4. Take baby steps. Start with one grocery store so you can understand the process of using multiple coupons for 1 item. When you feel comfortable, add a drug store like Rite Aid, CVS or Walgreens. They all have different coupon policies. Walgreens is probably the most difficult but they definitely have great deals! There are videos online to teach you how to shop at every store.


Mistakes I Made in the Beginning

If you could avoid some of these from the start, you would save yourself some trouble.

  1. I only cut coupons for the brands we already bought. Why are we so brand loyal when we’ve never tried the competing products? Gotta love advertising! Now I file all my coupons and only throw away things I wouldn’t want even if they were free, like cat food or Depends.
  2. I only had one set of coupons. That meant that if there was a good deal, I could only buy one. This defeats the whole purpose of couponing. I prefer to have 5-10 sets of coupons just in case there’s something at a great price that I want to stock up on.
  3. Forgetting to bring the coupons to the store or forgetting to use them. Ugh!!!
  4. Buying things that I thought were a good deal only to find out that I could have done better. There’s no way to avoid this mistake until you learn over time how much to pay for things. Thankfully, I was only buying things one at a time at this point due to my lack of coupons.
  5. I didn’t check my receipt. Once I learned to do this, it allowed me to mentally process what I was buying and how the couponing worked. I learned more about couponing from reading my receipts than anything else.
  6. Getting frustrated! I was annoyed that it took me so much time to figure this out. I have since learned that as soon as you master couponing, shopping becomes the same or faster than before. Why? Namely because you get more organized when you’re shopping. I enter the store now with a plan. All I have to do is grab the items and pay.


Realizations I’ve Had Since I Learned How to Coupon Shop

  1. The trick to couponing is matching coupons to sales. There are a lot of coupon websites that do this for you so all you have to do is get the coupons and follow their tips. It’s like having a coupon stockbroker that tells you when to buy.
  2. When a coupon expires, there’s usually another one that will come out to replace it. It took me awhile to use some restraint and not to use coupons just because they were expiring.
  3. Drug stores are a great place to shop. This was probably my most eye opening realization. No matter what you think – it is probably cheaper to buy your personal supplies (and sometimes food) at the drug store instead of Costco or Sam’s Club. If you are shopping at a membership warehouse store, you should drop everything right now and learn to coupon! You are probably bleeding money.
  4. Not everyone pays the same price at the same store. You have to be signed up for a loyalty card, have the right coupons and know what deals are available. It can be the difference between paying $13 or $1 for a bottle of shampoo.
  5. Just because a store advertises a sale, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good price and you should buy it. You have to start building a price list in your head or on paper so you know when something is a good price.
  6. Free toothpaste is easy to find! The same is true for a lot of other items once you start going online to read the coupon match ups to sales. All the work is done for you. You just have to read the information they post.
  7. Coupons are everywhere - the Sunday paper, printable coupons, magazines, store aisles, food coupons on products themselves, on the back of movie tickets, etc…
  8. Keep all the coupons – even for things you wouldn’t normally buy. That way, you actually have the coupon in case something is free and you want to give it a try.


Membership Warehouse Stores

Membership warehouse stores are the biggest waste of money for the average shopper. I shudder to think that I used to wait to buy things until I went on a Costco run. Here’s why:

  • First of all, they charge you to shop there. Shop in your own neighborhood without a fee.
  • Everything you buy is supersized. Now I buy smaller portion items that are more user friendly. For example, it’s much easier to use small 50 oz. bottles of laundry detergent than it is to deal with those huge bottles that are the size of gas cans. Recently I got 4 bottles of Tide HE for free at Rite Aid.
  • Because things were tucked away wherever I had space and I just couldn’t use such a large quantity, some of the stuff I bought expired.
  • Typically you can’t use coupons at a membership warehouse store.
  • It’s a common misconception that buying in bulk saves you money. Not true!!! Look at the prices and check this out for yourself.
  • I always got wooed into buying things I didn’t need – like Boogie Boards in the summer of Xmas decorations in the winter. Tell me this hasn't happened to you!

Pros & Cons of Couponing

Pros

  • You save money. Big time! You can cut your shopping bills in half.
  • You rarely run out of things and have to make a last minute trip to the store.
  • You get organized and you don’t let food expire.
  • You can stop shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club and save the membership fee. Avoiding the parking lot and cart traffic inside alone would be worth it.
  • You can teach your kids a good life lesson about how to avoid wasteful spending and use the money for something more meaningful, like a vacation.

Cons

  • There’s a learning curve
  • You have to do a little more preparation for your shopping. I feel like the money you save is worth the preparation.
  • Some people get addicted. Don’t be one of them. Let's face it, saving money and getting a deal is exciting. Keep it in perspective though. If your couponing starts to get in the way of spending time with your friends and family, cut back.
  • You will shop at more stores. For me, this is not a big deal since I used to go to the store a few times during the week anyway. Now I figure out what I want from each store based on their sales. I personally will not drive to stores that are out of my way. There’s a Wal Mart that is 5 miles from me with a lot of great deals. It’s just too far and too crowded unless it’s for something that I absolutely need like when my brand of contact lens solution, that is normally $10 a bottle, was free.


If you have more money than you know what to do with, skip couponing. You don’t need it. For everyone else, give it a shot before you reject it. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, which are just not true. The one I hear the most is that couponers buy things they don’t need. No one is holding a gun to your head to make you buy something you don’t need. That’s ridiculous. What I do is give a product that I’ve never used a try. If I like it, I buy more. If I don’t like it, I don’t buy it again. I have found some new products I really like that I never knew about before and I was able to try most of them for less than $1.

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Comments 11 comments

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

This was a good hub. Great beginning for your 30 in 30! keep it up and your 30 days will pass quickly. You did alot of research for this hub. I will definitely be checking some of these sites out!


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thanks homesteadbound! Couponing has been fun and definitely profitable. I'm looking forward to the challenge and getting to read great hubs from people like you.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

My favorite line: "if you have more money than you know what to do with then skip couponing, you don't need it." LOL I do coupon-so that tells you my financial situation.

Nice to meet you-good luck in the challenge. I tip my hat to you. It was 8 months after I joined before I was brave enough to jump into the challenge. I have written a couple of hubs on the subject of the challenge for those entering, if you want to check those out. Good luck to you.


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thank you Denise! I don't think couponing means a less than perfect financial situation as much as it's a sign of a smart shopper :) I can't wait to read your hubs on the challenge. I have the photos ready for my next hub, I just have to figure out what to say.


bananasforcoupons profile image

bananasforcoupons 5 years ago from Washington USA

Hi! Great hub. I loved learning about yur couponing learning experience. Funny that we all go through these things when we first learn to coupon. -the savvy shopper http://Bananasforcoupons.com


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thanks bananasforcoupons. I felt the same way that we all go through the same process so I was hoping someone could learn from my experience to "get it" faster. I have a feeling too many people quit before they make it work for themselves. I look forward to checking out your blog.


Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 5 years ago from Arkansas

Great hub! I myself have been dabbling in couponing. My husband and I save about $100 a month just from coupons. No where near what the people on "Extreme Couponing" manage to save, but hey, it's a start!

Voted up and I look forward to more of your hubs. :)


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

That's so great to hear Daniella and saving $100 a month is $1,200 a year!!! You may know more than me on the subject but I've found that the biggest way to save the most money for us non-extreme couponers is to get things like shampoo, razors, lotion, etc... at the drug store for free or close to it. When you take those items out of your grocery store budget, you're dropping your total expenditure on high priced items. At the grocery store, I save a minimum of 45% now. My best grocery store runs have been saving around 68%. When you add that to the things I saved on at the drug store, it's pretty significant. Thanks for stopping by!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA

I absolutely love couponing. It makes absolutely no sense to pay for stuff when you can get it for free! I have to work on getting more than one copy of coupons. That's probably my only biggest holdback, although it might be helping me, since it limits how much I buy. These are great ideas.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

AS you probably know, I published information about this hub in my hub luv series. It was a good one!


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Millionaire Tips - I love couponing too. It's so much fun. To get more than one copy of coupons, try to ask some friends, family or neighbors. Most people throw their coupon sections out and they are happy to save them for you.

Cindy - As you probably know, I think you are the best!!!!

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