Is Couponing Worth it? Confessions of a Former Extreme Couponer

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Have you been considering couponing? Groceries are expensive and coupons can cut down on the expense, but is couponing worth it?

Couponing used to be a game to me. I have walked out of a grocery store with bags of groceries and didn’t pay a dime. There was strategy and thrill to the savings game. I loved when I could get items for free.  It was even better if the coupon covered more than the cost of the item. Hello! Getting paid to buy things is swweeeett!

The extreme couponing shows did not draw me into the couponing fad.  My introduction to couponing began far earlier, when I was ten years old.  My family would sit at the dining room table for breakfast with different sections of the newspaper. The ads and coupons were left to the wayside, so I started looking through the ads and matching coupons to the sales. I would clip coupons for my mom to use when she went shopping. When I went off to college, I continued clipping coupons mainly for toiletries.

 

A sneak peak of a few of the shelves in my ‘grocery store’ back when I was a couponing queen…

The older I became, the more I used coupons and figured out the strategy. Our first year of marriage (2009) our average monthly spending on groceries, toiletries, and cosmetics was $74. We weren’t living on mac n’ cheese and we had a lot of dinner guests.  Couponing was great financial defense for us.

I literally was the crazy couponing lady. I taught couponing classes and even had my own ‘grocery store’ (a huge cellar that was full of my grocery finds and canning ventures). Not only that, I kept up with numerous couponing websites. We went two years without paying for cheese by using coupons.

So what changed?

Well, several things. Here are four reasons why I don’t coupon like I used to.

4 Reasons Why Couponing Isn’t Worth It

ONE

Couponing has Gone Downhill

The excitement of couponing subsided when I couldn’t get the deals like I used to.  I started couponing before extreme couponing shows existed. Grocery stores started to wake up and change their couponing policies. Double coupons don’t exist anymore along with a slew of other policies like grocery price matching.

TWO

Almost all Coupons are for Unhealthy Foods

Most coupons are for processed junk food, there are exceptions, but the majority are for cereals, dressings, candy, etc. I started assessing what I was buying and realized that I would never buy the majority of the stuff if I didn’t have a coupon for it. In addition, my husband started having food sensitivities about five years ago and the majority of processed foods are a no-go for him.

THREE

Couponing is a Time-Sucker

The amount of time I would spend looking on couponing websites, printing coupons, clipping coupons, strategizing and then doing the grocery shopping just stopped being appealing.  I can’t even fathom the number of hours I have spent on couponing throughout my life.  Once I became a mom, I knew that I needed to prioritize my time better and extreme couponing didn’t make the cut.

FOUR

Couponing Websites Encourages you to Spend

Couponing Websites do so much of the work for you by matching up deals with the right coupons.  I used to follow multiple couponing websites and they all promote grocery deals, Amazon deals, really any deal that exists at you multiple times a day.

The push to help you save money actually made you spend more money on crazy discounted items you didn’t need.  Couponing sites make their money through the ads and affiliate offers, so that is why they push deals on their money-savvy following.

I got suckered into one of the couponing deals and bought 100 knock-off magic erasers that were made in China. I’ve never bought a magic eraser in my life, and I sure didn’t need 100 of them.

Couponing has changed so much in the last ten years and so have I. I’ve been able to gain back time and I’m not buying food just because it is on sale or free.

Buying healthy food has been a necessity and a priority for my family because of food allergies and the desire to eat whole foods, and coupons don’t cover that. Most coupons are good for processed foods and we all know that processed foods aren’t good for us.

I haven’t quit couponing cold turkey. I still clip coupons here and there, but I have learned to save money without using coupons. Check out my downloadable guide on easy ways to save on groceries without clipping coupons. 

Do you coupon? Do you think couponing is worth it? Leave a comment below on how you save money on groceries.

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