All the buzz around the web with the TLC Extreme couponing and illegal extreme couponing is quite entertaining to me as a very mild couponer. I don’t think I am the only person who is not regular couponer. There are 3 camps of people – people who hate couponing, think it is a waste of their time; people who are extreme couponers and finally people who fall in between. I fall in the “in-between” camp for one month every year and then the rest of the year, I don’t do in-store coupons. Every year around Thanksgiving I buy newspaper for 1 month and collect coupons for toiletries. What I buy around that time lasts us for an year. I don’t use coupons for our regular shopping.
Why I don’t use in-store coupons regularly?
- We are vegetarians. 99% of the time the coupons are for boxed food. I have never seen a worth while coupon for vegetables.
- We shop local in the farmers markets, well, they don’t accept coupons even if I have one.
- We don’t need much. Honestly. We buy some staples once a month from the bulk bins at the local store. Then every week only the vegetables & dairy gets replenished. We don’t use much canned food or pre-prepared items. When I did coupons, I usually ended up buying a lot of items I didn’t need that would provide excess value to cover the items I do need. We buy from a list and stick to the list, I am guessing we are saving our money and health better this way.
- We live in a small house. I can in no way or form store 100 ketchup bottles or 50 boxes of Mac&cheese. I could donate them of course, but we figured it would be a better use of time to either volunteer or earn money in that time and donate that money.
- We have very few items that we like name brand, the rest we buy store brand.
- Deals can be addictive and can make me over spend.
- To get the amount of savings that extreme couponers get require a LOT of time and energy which I don’t have.
This person (above video) spent 6 hrs just walking through the store, then a few more hrs matching the coupons (which she ordered for $70) and then took a day off to do the shopping. I don’t think I can every do that. And I definitely don’t need 100 candy bars. I don’t think most people who use coupons does this. But it is fun to watch.
What I use coupons for?
As I said, I do use coupons for my toiletries and any internet purchases. I have never paid for toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and deodorant. I collect coupons for these items for 1-2 months, then use the sale around thanksgiving (mostly CVS) to stock up for one year. I know how much we will consumer for one year and I stick to that amount even if I have coupon for more. Last year I donated the rest of the coupons (you can donate unused coupons, even expired ones to the troops).
I always look for coupons before making any internet purchases, whether it is a personal purchase or a business purchase. Online store, restaurants, all of them have some coupons floating around whether it is $$ off, free shipping or a free dessert which makes online shopping with coupon codes extremely easy. If I want to shop for something in Amazon, finding promo codes for Amazon is my first step. With a simple Google search for [online store] + coupon (Example : California Pizza Kitchen coupon) it makes complete sense to try to look for coupons for a couple of minutes before buying an item.
That is the extend of my couponing. I always admire people who buy $600 worth of food for $6. If they can pull that off and not waste food/money, more power to them. Do you use a lot of coupons? Do you think couponing is a good use of your time? What is your personal return on investment when it comes to couponing?