Are Savings from Coupons Worth the Trouble of Collecting them – No

Some months back I got a new roomy, yet stylish, purse. I was excited about it because now I would be able to accommodate all the things a young mother might need for three active children plus a bit of my own stuff too. One of the things I decided that I could finally add to my purse was my coupon pouch.

I received this “pouch” for coupons several years before and had dutifully filled it with coupons as I found them. The coupons went unused. I told myself that this was primarily because I never had the coupons with me. I would always forget them when it was time to go to the store and many times I would just not foresee that I’d have a need for them. I imagined all the money that was wasted because I couldn’t remember to use my carefully collected coupons.

So I started putting my coupon pouch in my new purse and waited for the savings to roll in. Over my next few trips to the store, however, I realized that my expectations of saving lots of money were unfounded.

On any given trip to the grocery store, I’ve found that coupons don’t end up saving me much. I end up leaving the store with many of the coupons still in that handy little pouch. Surprisingly enough, I end up saving more money without them.

So why are coupons a waste of my time?

– They are typically for major name brand products that start out at a higher price.

– They often require you to by more than one of an item before you’ll receive any savings. What if you don’t need or want more than one?

– There are a plethora of coupons for products that I don’t typically buy (like new product lines that end up being more expensive after the initial product push).

And how do I save money without them?

– I buy generic or store brand products. Most stores have their own products and/or a quality generic brand now. These products are usually quite comparable to the name brand. With the exception of a few items that I won’t compromise on (toilet paper, diapers, maxi pads/tampons), I’ll usually try out any generic or store brands at least once. And I’m usually pleasantly surprised!

– I participate in store programs that offer customers additional savings, coupons and discounts – like Food Lion’s MVP card. These programs are great time savers because they often automatically generate coupons for you based on the things you actually do purchase. A chain of local stores here in Virginia sends you these coupons on a regular basis in the mail. These programs also allow you to take advantage of savings on various items around the store. Your store program card serves as the coupon itself. No clipping necessary!

– I shop smart by comparing prices and buying in bulk where it makes sense. Many stores have price tags that provide great cost comparison tools. On some shelf stickers or on the items themselves you can find cost per unit, cost per ounce, or cost per pound information. Use these to your advantage. Compare what you’ll be getting for your money on a cost per ___ basis. You may be surprised to found out that what you thought was an inexpensive product is not really that cheap when looked at in this way.

– I try not to buy it unless I need it. I’m not saying that I don’t splurge every once in a while. Sometimes splurging is just necessary. But many times it is not. If you’re trying to save money, take a good hard look at what you NEED to have versus what you WANT to have. You may just be surprised at what you can go without. And it might just be a healthier choice for you too.

All of this said, I still use the occasional coupon. I just don’t waste my time seeking them out. I’d recommend that you not waste yours either. Just make good shopping choices and you’ll see that you can save money without the hassle – and without the coupon pouch! Now my roomy purse has some space available….