A lot like the age old questions that plague society, whether cutting, sorting and shopping with coupons is worth the time and effort has been debated often on the blogs and financial websites. So, I figured, why not add my two cents?
Back in 2008, when I really started honing in on saving as much money as possible, I began cutting coupons. I used them at my local grocery store (Cub Foods), at Target, at CVS, at Wal-mart. You name it, I had a coupon for it.
And I saved money on what I bought. After a while, I had a lot of stuff. And a lot of coupons. So, I organized them. Three times, finally settling on a binder system.
Then I went back to work full time. Over time, I stopped shopping the super deals at Target because I found their tolerance for coupons was hit and miss and I was frustrated when I wasted my time. Wal-mart is not a regular stop for me, so I cut that out, too.
Here is what finally worked for me:
I was well stocked on things like toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream and razors, shampoo and conditioner. I donated the excess and stopped shopping those deals for a while.
I clip coupons for things I use on a regular basis. I sort through the coupon binder when we have a longer road trip, weeding out the expired coupons. When I toss the coupons I don’t use, I don’t feel like I wasted my time cutting them. I feel like I had them if I needed the item, and I feel happy that I did not need the item – that way I saved 100%!
We shop a lot at Aldi and Costco (when the cost is right) and lately Cub has had some good deals on generic items that don’t have manufacturer coupons. We buy what is one sale and stock our stockpile, so we almost always buy at the lowest prices. I make my own cleaners, so I don’t cut any coupons for cleaners (other than toilet bowl cleaner). I use simple face cleanser and lotion from Trader Joe’s, witch hazel as a toner and make up from Everyday Minerals, so no coupons for facial care or makeup. And we don’t have any kids in diapers, so no coupons for diapers or wipes or diaper creams.
I do still use coupons when the deal is good and we need or stock an item, but the total time it takes me now is about 20 minutes a week if there are 3 coupon inserts, and often less than that. Plus a coupon purge once every three months or so, while I am watching TV or in the car.
Could I save more? I have no doubt that I could, but for me, for this season in life, I am happy with this simplified coupon system. I feel like it gives me the best return for my time investment.
Now I can move on to the greater questions in life, like whether or not I should give up cable.