Every day, I hear people say that they don’t use coupons because they don’t have the time to go through the papers and mailers and clip the coupons. “It just takes too much time” they say. Those same people, will spend hours budgeting and finding ways to save themselves money, but they don’t see couponing as a viable use of their time and efforts. While coupons may not be as important to your financial health as a budget, they can be just as good as many of the other saving methods that you will employ.
With the popularity of extreme couponing, it’s no wonder that people feel that they need to spend hours each week pouring over newspaper inserts, clipping coupons, then sorting them all into categories and then making plans for where they’ll shop and what they’ll buy. In their mind, they see piles and piles of inserts, and closets full of extra supplies that they’ll need years to use up.
Couponing doesn’t need to be extreme, though. If skipping your daily latte can be a good strategy for saving a few dollars a day, so can clipping a few coupons. Taking a few minutes each week to flip through the inserts in your paper and clipping the few coupons that you find for the things that you buy regularly can easily save you a few dollars a week. Signing up for manufacturer email newsletters can often result in an electronic coupon to print out once or twice a month. A few extra emails a month is a small price to pay to save a dollar or two.
Now, the thing to remember here is that you aren’t going to retire off of the money you’ll save. And, you certainly won’t be sending your kids to college with it either. But, saving money is saving money. A few dollars here, and a few dollars there all adds up in the grand scheme of things. Heck, maybe you clip coupons so that you can treat yourself once a week to that latte that you’re currently skipping.
Anything that can be done, has been done to an extreme. But, just because the extreme version of something is popular, doesn’t mean that it has to be the only way. Just like there are people who run extreme marathons of 100 miles or more, doesn’t mean that you can’t be a runner. Just because there are hyper-milers who squeeze every extra bit of MPG out of their cars, doesn’t mean that you can’t employ a few of the same methods to save a bit on gas. And, just because there are people who spend hours each week clipping, sorting, and analyzing coupons, doesn’t mean that you can’t spend a few minutes each Sunday to save a few bucks.
photo credit: sdc2027
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I totally agree with you here. I tend to keep my eyes peeled for coupons but don’t put a lot of time or effort into it. Whenever I spot a high value coupon for a product that I know I would be buying anyway, I scoop it up. I almost always avoid coupons that are less than a dollar and often skip those that are less than $2.
If I had more time though, I would start a coupon binder and collect the coupons with lower value too because when combined with sales even small value coupons can represent big savings (percentage wise).
Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity says
I think the time spent should have some direct relationship to the amount of money saved. With me, I usually do not buy prepackages products so couponing would be a major waste of time. For the stuff I do purchase, I make a quick scan through the papers on weekends and 2 online sites, and that’s it. It makes absolutely no sense to spend an hour searching to save $.25–to me that’s completely ridiculous. Plus, with coupons having expiration dates, it creates an even bigger waste of time when you realize that all the effort to find them went for nothing if they expire before the go on the 10 for 1 sale that people wait for (maybe a little exaggeration, but not so much).
Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog says
Totally agree shane, but I think if it wasnt “extreme” it wouldnt sell (I think they hired mountain dew’s old CEO).
Most of the time I have good intentions with coupons, then either forget them or something else. I’ve basically stopped altogether with them now.
I’m anti coupon. I can’t stand clipping and saving coupons. I would only use a coupon if it’s staring right in my face saying “hey use me to save money” Other than that just buy the item. but, I will ask the sales associate for an employee discount without hesitation.
Nicely said. Some people really think using coupon is a waste of time and this can be true. Sometimes, time is more valuable. My wife, who is a stay home mom, tries her best to use coupons because it is one of ways to save money. She only buys what the family needs and still she ends up saving at least $10 per week. $10/week is not all that much but over one year accumulation, it’s $520. Not too shabby!
I very rarely use coupons. If I need something, I’ll go out and buy it. I think people are too influenced by coupons and sales – which cause them to buy things they normally wouldn’t.
One tip I will give pertaining to coupons is: while you’re at a store, see if you can pull up a coupon from the internet on your phone. If you’re standing in line anyway, you may be able to save a buck.
Coupons are great, and if it helps you to save a few dollars, it worth spending a few minutes a week looking for coupons, in the paper or on the internet.
Matt @ Financial Excellence says
I’ve been a little against spending a lot of time for extreme couponing in the past but we still take time to clip coupons for things we normally buy.
shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet says
We do most of our shopping at CostCo. Every couple of weeks, they send out a coupon booklet. I take a look through it and see if they have coupons for anything we would be buying anyway, but that’s about it.
There is one particular coupon that comes out once every couple of months for money off a product that the MIL uses daily. We use that coupon to it’s fullest.
Erik Nestorovic says
Great point. Even though I personally don’t really use coupons (only online ones), there’s a difference between taking 5 minutes to check the paper and potentially save a few bucks and spending hours finding the best deal in town (which in my opinion, that time is more valuable than the $5 you save).