People ask me all the time: Does couponing really save money? They envision extreme couponers with stacks of newspapers spending their days cutting and organizing coupons. They think using coupons takes hours each week and don’t want to waste valuable time clipping them. I’m here to tell you that couponing doesn’t have to take hours, and, yes, it will save you money.
The Truth About Couponing
We’ve all seen the show Extreme Couponers where people are digging through dumpsters to find more coupons. They are definitely able to save lots of money, but I’m not willing to go to those extremes to save a few dollars. I also don’t have five hours each day to cut and organize my coupons. You can use coupons and save money in under an hour a week.
I first started using coupons when I was on maternity leave with my daughter. I was skeptical at first, too. With a newborn and a three year old, I didn’t have a lot of free time. I started by purchasing the Sunday newspaper and clipping the coupons from the inserts. If I could find two coupons a week that matched with items I was already buying, I saved an extra $2 a week. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s about $100 a year.
Where to Find Coupons
I started by just using the coupons from the newspaper, but since then, I’ve discovered other places to find coupons. Here are some of my favorites.
- The Newspaper – This is still one of the top places I find my coupons. I used to go to Turkey Hill every Sunday morning to pick up a copy of the newspaper. Now, I have the Sunday paper delivered to my house, which saves a few dollars a month.
- Coupons.com – You can either download the coupons.com app on your phone or visit the website on your computer. Some grocery stores allow you to enter your club card number, and coupons are sent directly to your card. Others require you to print the coupons and use them at checkout.
- The Store Circular – Some grocery stores include coupons directly in their store circular. I usually check the circular online to see what coupons are available that week. Then, I grab a hard copy of the circular when I enter the grocery store and tear out the coupons I will be using.
- On the Grocery Store Website – You can set up an online account on the grocery store’s website using your club card. Then, you just go into the “coupons” section of the website and click on any coupons you might use. They are sent directly to your club card, so there’s no clipping required. Many grocery stores also have an app that makes this even easier.
- At the Grocery Store – Many grocery stores now have coupon dispensers right in the aisles. As you’re shopping, keep an eye out for these little money-savers. Even if I’m not planning to buy the item that week, I’ll often take one of the coupons in case I want to purchase the product later. Also, be sure to look at the items you’re buying. Every once in a while, the manufacturer will attach a coupon to the package. That way all you have to do is pull it off and use it at checkout to save some extra money.
Now that you’ve clipped all these little pieces of paper, what do you do with them? There are many different ways to organize your coupons. You could make a coupon binder or use envelopes. I found a coupon organizer at the Dollar Store that works great for me. As long as your coupons are grouped by category, it will be easy to find them quickly.
Next, you need to be organized for your trip to the grocery store. I like to paperclip the coupons I know I’m using to my grocery list. That way I won’t forget them at home, and I won’t have to dig through all my coupons to find them. I also always bring my coupon organizer with me to the grocery store. If I forgot to take one out or I end up buying something that wasn’t on my list, I can find it before I checkout.
Another important part of staying organized is getting rid of expired coupons. Once a week, as I’m planning my grocery trip, I will go through my coupon organizer and take out any coupons that are expired. This also gives me a chance to look at all of my coupons. That way I know which ones I have as I’m planning my grocery list.
So Back to the Original Question
Does couponing really save money? When I first started couponing, I was only saving about $2 a week. Over the past 3 years, I’ve discovered all the other places to find coupons, and my savings have increased greatly. Now, I save at least $10 a week using coupons. Usually it’s more than that, but I’m being conservative. If you save $10 a week using coupons, that adds up to about $500 a year. What would you do with an extra $500?
Couponing also doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Sunday night, I turn on a 30-minute TV show after my kids are in bed and clip my coupons from the newspaper and Coupons.com. Thursday night, I clean out my expired coupons, plan my grocery trip, and paperclip the coupons I’m using to my grocery list. That takes under an hour. Start using these tips to save on your grocery bill now!
Now that you know how to use coupons to save money, find out if you’re making any of these grocery store mistakes. Fix them to save even more money.
What Do You Think?
Have you tried using coupons to save money? Has it worked for you?
Let me know in the comments below.