8 Reasons You SHOULD Use Coupons

As if I need to convince you, right?? :)

My husband sent me a link to a Yahoo Personal Finance article titled, “8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Coupons.” I find it extremely ironic that my husband, Paul, is the one who finds this article (rather than me finding it). I was encouraged when we spoke about how I would disagree with the article as soon as I read it! He thought it was so wrong too and suggested I share my reasons for disagreement :) He knows how opinionated passionate I am on this topic. And, hey even my man gives me stuff to write about sometimes! I know my source now for writer’s block!

So, here is my synopsis and rebuttal to the article written by Amy Fontinelle. My comments are listed below each reason the author gives on why you shouldn’t use coupons. Obviously, my views will be explaining why you SHOULD use coupons.

1) You have to buy a newspaper.

The author is arguing that the newspaper companies are making profits on your purchase.

My rebuttal: Don’t BUY a newspaper – SUBSCRIBE to your newspaper!

I share this whenever I teach a coupon workshop or just have a captivated audience so this could be redundant for you, bear with me :)

Newspapers may have different value coupons in the papers for subscribers and the papers you purchase at the local store on Sunday. To explain this simply, newspaper companies are paid more marketing dollars based on those subscribers – those are guaranteed eyes on the coupons (and the brands). The store newspapers are not guaranteed as sold, so they keep a lower value (or sometimes no coupon at all) in those newspaper inserts.

So, for this reason alone I say subscribe to your paper. Don’t just randomly buy one. When you do that, the paper is around $2.50 (in our region). Depending on how many of those coupons you will actually use, the $2.50 may not be worth your total cost of savings. I pay around $13 for a 12-week subscription. That’s 12 weeks of Sunday newspaper inserts! A 50% savings just by subscribing alone.

Check with your local paper on the best price, use the surrounding competing papers to your advantage. Surely one will give you a lower rate. Use that price as leverage to wheel and deal. If you want to search online, you can use this discounted newspaper site to find a low rate as well.

2) Clipping coupons takes time.

The argument here is that they take time to clip and your time may be spent on another activity.

My Rebuttal: Clipping coupons takes time which is why I do NOT clip coupons!

I view this as part of coupon organization. There are several forms to use to organize your coupons. I share a few of the most popular methods in the Shopping with Coupons: A Beginner’s Guide to Savings.

To share a bit, in the first several months of focused couponing, I cut out all coupons from the newspaper inserts each week. I had my binder with the baseball card holders to organize the coupons. It was so pretty! That didn’t last long though and I share why I no longer use the binder method of coupon organization.

After abandoning the binder method, I started using the File by Insert method. While it does have the disadvantages, the main point for me was planning my transaction to the penny and I didn’t need to have additional coupons with me to get that great clearance sale. If it was *that* good, I might stop back when I was headed in that direction (which rarely happened). It didn’t matter, I managed to live without it.

I now use a hybrid method of sorts. I clip what I call “SMART” coupons. These are the coupons I know I’ll use so I clip just those coupons (when I get around to it) and I file the rest. I also only print the printable coupons when I need them, unless they are a super hot coupon. I keep all of my coupons organized in my small carry-along zip coupon folder organized by shopping category (i.e., Frozen, Baby, Can, Box, etc).

Since I don’t really shop weekly anymore, I would say I spend about *maybe* 2 hours total a month to organize my coupons like this, including the cutting. Yeap, I’m spending some time but I’m also saving thousands. Is it worth it? Does the question even need to be asked?

3) Getting a newspaper invites lots of additional advertising into your home.

The argument is this advertising facilitates an unnecessary purchase or visit to a store.

My rebuttal: Coupons are advertisements.

I agree with this. Coupons are advertisements for brands. It’s marketing to consumers for purchase of those products. I view it just like television media and other forms of print advertising. The only difference with coupons is that we, the consumers, get a financial benefit with this form of advertising. I have never seen a way I could personally save through a commercial. Unless the commercial was directing me to the brand’s site to print a coupon, that is.

Bottom line, buy what you need or want and avoid the rest of the nonsense.

You may also find that a coupon available for a new product gets you to purchase the product. That is part of the marketing strategy for these brands offering coupons. I take these coupons as a way to compare the new brand with other similar, less expensive, brands The coupon is allowing me to do brand comparison and save in the meantime.

Now, be warned: you *might* just become loyal to that brand. I raise my hand and proclaim “Kashi TLC Bars coupons and word of mouth marketing worked on me!” But it was ONLY because I needed a product that offered the benefits that Kashi TLC Bars have to compete with a similar product like Nutri-Grain bars. Now, I’m experimenting with my own copycat recipe for Kashi TLC Bars to eliminate this cost all together. If you have one, please share since my experimentation isn’t turning out so well!

4) Many of the coupons will be for things you neither need nor want.

The argument made is that from a financial perspective, buying more than you need or want just doesn’t make sense.

My Rebuttal: BUY things you NEITHER need nor want. Why? Donate!

Yes, buy those things BUT only within your budget AND with proper planning of purchases.

I will admit that when I first started focused couponing, I did go overboard. Well, I was spending the same amount from our grocery budget but getting twice the amount. I wasn’t spending anymore, but I wasn’t realizing the true opportunity in savings that were possible! I realized quickly I didn’t need that much and was able to reduce the budget pretty quickly while building a stockpile in the process.

The other benefit to buying things you don’t need or want is purely for donating and giving back. I know many couponers have been able to donate thousands of dollars worth of products that we purchased with our own money spending very little out of pocket. That is the beauty in a coupon. It not only blesses our own needs, there is huge potential to bless others!

You can always call your local shelters and food banks to see if there are specific needs to truly focus your donation efforts. If they don’t need another 100 boxes of pasta, figure out what they do need and get those items on sale and with coupons. Go bedazzle them with your strategic shopping skillz and purchase those very items for next to nothing.

5) Coupons can tempt you to spend your grocery dollars on things you shouldn’t.

The argument here is that coupons tend to be available for unhealthy items.

My Rebuttal: NOT couponing can tempt you to spend your grocery dollars on things you shouldn’t.

To address the argument about the health factor on the brands, this is a one I hear all . the . time! Let me share a few items I have purchased recently, with coupons, and you decide if they are healthy:

  • Wholly Guacamole
  • Boulder Canyon Chips
  • Cascadian Farms Granola
  • Muir Glen Tomato Paste
  • Ronzoni Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Del Monte Fresh Pineapple

I don’t want to bore you with a longer list, but hopefully you get the point. Of course, I didn’t lose 70 pounds total by eating junk, right? No, eating unhealthy foods consistently does not aide in weight loss efforts! The truth is you are going to purchase just as many unhealthy products WITHOUT coupons as you purchase healthy products WITH coupons!

There are tons of brands with coupons that ARE for healthy products. There are also coupons for products that are unhealthy products. Just like there are a ton of brands/products for unhealthy products that do NOT offer coupons. I haven’t seen a coupon for Little Debbie Fudge Rounds, ever. (Have you?) Sorry, it’s my weakness. Well, I’d like a coupon occasionally for ‘em, Little Debbie!

With regards to finding coupons, I created a comprehensive list of Organic Food Companies offering coupons. You can also search my coupon database to find thousands more coupons on any products. Many coupons in the database are for organic brands as well. My point is that there ARE resources to find these types of product coupons. It’s all a matter of what you personally want.

I will say that the organic/whole foods companies have a ways to go. Since our family has focused more on a few organic/whole food items, I have done some price comparison (and I have lots more to share on the topic too). Organic items ARE more expensive than conventional products BUT I am saving on what I need to spend on what I want. I can get free shampoo, toothpaste, razors, and several other hygiene items (which tend to be a big budget buster for a lot of people). I can then take a portion of that savings to spend on some items that may be more expensive and may/may not have a coupon.

6) The same coupons tend to be offered over and over again.

The argument is that the same coupons are republished as soon as the other coupon expires and the continued clipping takes time and is redundant.

My Rebuttal: The same coupons are offered over and over again.

And, um, what is wrong with that? We love YoPlus yogurt. I know that General Mills offers new coupons every 6-8 weeks. The value of the coupon varies anywhere from a $0.50/1 coupon to a $1/1 coupon. Plus, sites like Coupons.com, Smartsource, Coolsavings and RedPlum offers these great coupons as well. When we run out (and we always do), I can still save when I buy more yogurt. Again, what is wrong with that?

To the point that it takes time to clip and it is redundant. See point #2 above. Figure out the most efficient way that works for you.

7) You might become a slave to coupons.

The argument is that it becomes harder to spend more money on a product when you know a coupon will become available soon. The other note is coupons may make you go to the store multiple times which results in more time and money spent.

My Rebuttal: Do coupons really have *that* kind of power over people?

First off, don’t be a slave to anything! And, specific to the argument, what is wrong with waiting for that sale, stockpiling items you use normally and having enough to last until the next sale? And, being a slave to coupons? Well, I truly do think I’ve heard it all now!

I get for some, there is the “there is no coupon, we aren’t buying that” mentality. I respect that because it’s your life and your choices! I actually use that line with my kids, but it really has nothing to do with not having a coupon :) We will personally splurge on things that we want. Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet if you are craving something and the coupon isn’t available.

Last summer, M&M Ice Cream sandwiches had several coupons that came out (do you remember, I bet you do!). I stocked up like nobody’s business!! I was hoping to see, and still expect to see, the same coupon return this year. Those sandwiches are a tasty treat!! Well, I’m not waiting around for that coupon to get here so I went ahead and bought a box, WITHOUT a coupon!

GASP, the HOROR, did you FAINT?

All joking aside, it goes back to saving where you can so those little splurges, without the anticipated coupon, doesn’t make you go nuts over the loss of savings. I constantly think of all the thousands of dollars I could have saved before I started focused couponing. I stop myself really quick because it’s pointless. I focus on making wise decisions today so I can pay full price for my M&M ice cream sandwiches!

If you *do* get upset about the purchase without that coupon, you aren’t alone. I used to as well. Those symptoms will likely subside when you realize you don’t have to buy toilet paper for a year. Not that I have *ever* had that much toilet paper I bought. Well, I didn’t buy it at least. It was all free! It feels a little softer when it’s free too :)

8) Shopping takes longer when you use coupons.

The argument is coupon shopping requires more search for the coupon items.

My Rebuttal: Shop with a Plan: Save Money AND Time!

True story:

Shopping at 5 stores + an infant + a coupon binder + a diaper bag + a purse =
2 hours in and out WITH a Plan!

I don’t shop that many stores anymore, nor do I have an infant (but a 3-year old toddler is way more challenging, trust me on this one!). When I started focused coupling it was fun. And, well, we had a little one that had to go shop with mommy so I had no choice. Planning helped me achieve the total cost of savings.

Check out the Mommy Snacks Files page. There is a Savings Tracking and Planning file to help you plan your purchases and then track everything you saved. Yeap, that’s what I still use today. I have played around with a new format on the planning but until it gets to a place where I see the true time savings for the plan in excel, I won’t share. Coming soon from a blog near you :)

Bottom Line

To summarize the Yahoo author’s “Bottom Line,” dedicated coupon clippers can overcome the reasons above for why coupons can help you save and achieve realistic savings. But, the thing I am saddened by is when Fontinelle says “If you’re not one of them {dedicated coupon clippers}, there’s no need to start clipping.”

That’s not true! At . All. Please do NOT take that advice!

Again, one year of focused couponing and we saved $6,500. That money was money we needed in so many ways, which I will share in detail (…eventually). Even if you do half the effort, spend a total of around 8-10 hours a month on your couponing organization, planning AND shopping, you can realistically be able to achieve half of that.

I guess it’s not even about the large savings number really. The point is take what you spend today, aim to cut it a small percentage each week/month. Continue to do that and find that wiggle room in your budget. Again, it’s all about doing what works for YOU!

It’s YOUR quality of life that can be changed.

I’ts YOUR satisfaction in giving to others that will be seen, and felt.

It’s YOUR financial goals to achieve.

$.25 Coupon = $6,500 Savings for our family.

What does it mean for you?

Disclaimer: This post contains a link to an affiliate. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on July 19, 2010

27 Comments

  • Rachel - July 19, 2010 @ 3:11 pm
    1

    Thank you so much for this response to the article. I also saw this article (it was on Yahoo’s home page much of the morning) and thought it was rediculously off point. Everyone has to find the balance within frugality, savings, couponing, etc that is right for them and it doesn’t take being a dedicated coupon clipper to save your family some money. Great response and great tips. Thanks for speaking out!

  • Marianne@TheNewFrugalMom - July 19, 2010 @ 3:24 pm
    2

    Testify, girl!

    Those articles come out from time to time (they seem to coincide w/big shopping seasons like back to school & holidays as well as with the New Year’s resolution season) and they always make me laugh and roll my eyes.

    It’s *all* about the math, the strategy, and the ability to apply a little discipline to your shopping (by getting rid of impulse buys, planning a bit for the week ahead rather than stopping at the store EVERY night because you “need” something for dinner, etc). The small investment of your time it takes to coupon/deal ends up paying you back over and over and over again.

    I’m sure they’ll get a lot of traffic on that article simply because people are searching for ways to save money with coupons and the search engine will point them there.

    I just hope – like you do – that newbies won’t be discouraged. 8-)

  • Leah - July 19, 2010 @ 3:26 pm
    3

    Andrea, I was let in on a fantastic deal by moneysavingmethods blog. If you live in a regular delivery route of the Cinti Enquirer you could get the Bethel Journal AND the Sunday Enquirer for as low as $18/year. A YEAR!
    I have had this subscription for over a year now. :) FYI, if you already have a subscription to the Sunday Enquirer, be prepared for some confusion at the upstart and either cancel through the Enquirer first or call after you have your first Journal in hand.

  • Leah - July 19, 2010 @ 3:27 pm
    4
    • MommySnacks: Andrea - July 19, 2010 @ 3:31 pm
      4.1

      Thanks, Leah! I posted that one a while ago. That is definitely an awesome deal too!! Thanks for dropping it in here.

  • Becky - July 19, 2010 @ 3:29 pm
    5

    Well said Andrea!! I wish everyone saw just how much can be saved with a little time spent couponing and planning. I cringe when I hear the stories of how much some people spend on groceries weekly. I’m quite sure that the writer of the Yahoo article could learn a TON from you like all of us have! Thanks for all you do!

    • emma - July 23, 2010 @ 10:11 am
      5.1

      I was one of those people spending outrageous amounts of money on groceries, sometime $300 a week for 3 people. I wouldn’t plan at all and used no coupons. I would go shopping several times a week and of course I would always pick up things I didn’t need or buy meat that I didn’t end up using because I didn’t have a plan. I really appreciate everyone’s input and the bloggers out there who are helping put all of this valuable information together.

  • Jenna - July 19, 2010 @ 3:41 pm
    6

    Thanks for sharing! You should totally send this post to them!!!

  • Celia Emmons - July 19, 2010 @ 4:04 pm
    7

    Love your response!

    Not to mention, Newspapers aren’t the only coupon source.

  • Kristi - July 19, 2010 @ 4:20 pm
    8

    Thank you for the time & effort you put in to this rebuttal!! I have learned so much from your page & I am happy to share it with my frugal friends! I hope the writer of the Yahoo article gets to read your reply and sees that saving money can be simple with a little bit of organization and patience. Most people now days don’t have that and this is why people just throw money away. “It’s not convenient”, “It’s not my brand” – Hello? With a coupon, it’s FREE??? I blows my mind. I guess they should try having their income cut by 60% without warning and then they would have only wished that had that nice coupon filing system set up ready to use. I totally believe that by the grace of God & my coupons, that is the only reason we are still doing okay today. Thanks again =)

  • Kandi - July 19, 2010 @ 4:50 pm
    9

    Very well said. I’m a believer ;) I’m extremely “brand” picky and it is still possible to achieve a huge amount of savings with coupons. I set a goal last year and reached it, plus some. I just don’t get people. Who can’t afford to save money these days? Really?

  • lynn @ Maven of Savin' - July 19, 2010 @ 4:55 pm
    10

    HOLY COW!! Reasons NOT to use coupons – hello… it is money! That is crazy and you wrote a wonderful rebuttal. I almost threw up the other day watching someone spend $50+ at CVS – EEKKK!!!

  • Jaclyn - July 19, 2010 @ 5:10 pm
    11

    I was always a person that thought buying generic was better then coupons, but when I started couponing in feb we have had more name brand food then ever becuase I could get it cheaper. Also I think a good sale without a coupon is a deal too sometimes. Like right now Dillons (kroger) has Kraft shells & cheese cups for $0.50 when you by 10, I don’t care if I have to buy 10 (in fact we got 30 lol) It was half of normal price. And yes I have been waiting for another coupon for it (it will come out as soon as this sale is over I am sure of it) but a lot of the time it is the only thing my 4 year old will eat, she is mac & cheese picky can’t be powder, so I have to say well it is a good deal without a coupon so lets stockpile. Not that the stockpile will last long with her.
    Thanks for this I loved it!

  • Sarah - July 19, 2010 @ 7:54 pm
    12

    Love it! My thoughts exactly. I’m hoping to get a group of my friends together and talk about my couponing efforts and how they can get in the game. One of my big concepts that I wish everyone understood is that couponing can be done at SO MANY levels! If you don’t want to spend a lot of time, don’t! Start small! Subscribe to the Sunday paper, subscribe to a blog or two, and learn how to shop sales & stockpile. Those things are a great start and take very very little time! I only wish I knew years ago how easy couponing could be and how much I could save doing it. I admit that I spend a LOT of time on it now, but it’s fun for me! It has become my hobby and what can be more rewarding than finding ways to get paid to shop? :-)

  • liz - July 19, 2010 @ 9:44 pm
    13

    Love your comments on couponing!! It always cracks me up when friends will make fun of me for couponing saying they don’t have the time, but then it’s them in the end who ends up not having money to do little extra things that I somehow magage to always be able to do. Something to think about….

  • Bridgett - July 19, 2010 @ 10:40 pm
    14

    Loved your response and all the comment in regards to this article. Recently, my husband lost his job and it has helped us to cut expenses. He is very picky about brands but is willing to try others to save a buck. We have plenty of razors when they were FREE at the drugstores. I have cut our grocery bill in half and I am learning ways to save time in the process. I really appreciate your efforts and I enjoy reading your blog!

  • Teresa - July 20, 2010 @ 3:10 pm
    15

    Great response! I have made my way through all the stages of couponing (the crazed person in the beginning to now where if I miss a sale, oh well). There were a few unhealthier things that I was purchasing before with coupons, but now that we changed how we eat I just changed my coupon focus. I know how to find coupons for the healthy things we eat now! And it doesn’t take any huge extra amount of time to shop with coupons, I think it actually helps me focus and plan better! I know, this is what I am going into this store for and that’s it, no impulse buying. And getting things like shampoo/deodorant, etc for free allows us to spend more on those things that you can’t ususally find coupons for like fresh fruits and veggies!

  • Chris - July 20, 2010 @ 9:36 pm
    16

    From http://www.torontosun.com/money/savings/2010/02/26/13047476.html#/money/savings/2010/02/26/pf-13047501.html

    When it comes to effectively using coupons, budgeting expert and savvy money saver Amy Fontinelle uses the Coupon Mom method, developed by renowned strategic shopper Stephanie Nelson (www.couponmom.com).

    Fill a three-ring binder with plastic baseball card holder sheets, and fill each slot with coupons that fit into a specific category: dedicate a certain number of pages for dairy, produce, meat, junk food, and so on. When you go grocery shopping, bring your coupon binder with you — and start saving!

    “When I’m at the grocery store, whatever aisle I’m in, I flip to the corresponding section and see what I have coupons for,” Fontinelle says. “It takes some time to maintain the system, but it makes it easier to use the coupons.”

    • MommySnacks: Andrea - July 20, 2010 @ 11:33 pm
      16.1

      Thanks for the link, Chris. Obviously the article was written to get some exposure and traffic :)

  • L Olson - July 21, 2010 @ 10:52 pm
    17

    Great rebuttals! I saved $52 at Target today with coupons alone – amazing!

  • Karen - July 22, 2010 @ 11:56 pm
    18

    LOVE the rebuttal! Thanks so much for putting into words what so many of us felt when we read that original article at first. The only thing I would add is that couponing has made me more aware of what I was impulse buying before I started saving. There is nothing wrong with not eating any ice cream because you don’t have any in the freezer just now. Our instant gratification society shrinks back from denying oneself, but I think it is a healthy thing for the children to not have everything they want all the time. So what if you don’t have dessert tonight because you couldn’t bring yourself to buy that $4.50 carton of ice cream because you know the new sale starts in 2 days and that it will probably be “buy one get one” then? I think couponing teaches discipline – to me and my children. :)

  • emma - July 23, 2010 @ 10:22 am
    19

    I feel so dumb, but I never even thought of a subscription to the Sunday paper. There are plenty of times I forget to pick it up or whatever, but having it delivered sounds like a great idea.

  • Tamara - June 20, 2011 @ 10:24 pm
    20

    I have learned so much from focused couponing. How to compare prices effectively and what is a good price to pay for an item are of the top two. A close third and forth are when the produce is marked down and when the stores receive their trucks. All adding up to more effective shopping trips for my family. My husband views my coupon clipping/ organizing as a therapeutic hobby, (that saves us a ton). Before couponing we were always running to the store for that one item needed to complete the dinner, several times a week, at in opportune times. Now, we have all the ingredients for several dinner options stocked, no more emergency runs to the grocery store.
    I also get great pleasure in scooping up those free items with coupons and giving them to friends, family, and neighbors.
    ” as for me and my family, we will coupon”

  • Brianna Storch - October 04, 2011 @ 3:44 am
    21

    I agree with you on everything EXCEPT #1. All the others are mostly about perspective and how you approach using coupons. It doesn’t have to be the work the article makes it out to be whether you have 5 coupons for 15.

    The only thing I disagree with is #1 because in many “smaller” cities the cost of distributing a newspaper in an ever-growing digital age is felt in the subscription rates. The subscription rates in our city, just for Sunday’s edition, are actually $.50 per paper HIGHER than at a local gas station. That being said, so you buy it at the gas station but unfortunately that money isn’t always available every week to do so.

    Basically I’m not trying to poke holes in your suggestions, simply making an example that it’s not always that black & white. I would LOVE to save my family some money every month or at least be able to stock up more on the same grocery budget but when a huge part of your coupon availability is determined by what I described above, it’s hard to manage that. Any retorts are always welcome! :)

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - October 04, 2011 @ 4:14 pm
      21.1

      Brianna, I’m surprised your subscriptions are higher than purchasing at a store! I have never heard of that before and it goes against what the advertisers are paying for – a guaranteed body to see those coupons/advertisements. Very interesting! It may be beneficial to acquire additional inserts from a reputable clipping service. Some like The Q Hunter allow you to get into a plan so you have a set rate even (and better coupons).

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