Is Couponing a Good Thing or Bad?

Updated on December 28, 2012
I.G. asks from Sacramento, CA
18 answers

I just became a single mom and it's been somewhat tight on my pocket because although I am supposed to be getting child support...well I'm not! He is too broke and I have to budget every penny I get. I knew it was going to be hard but I just didn't realize how hard it really is and I only have a child. Anyway, I was at my parents visiting and my oldest sister (who has 2 children and is married) happened to be there as well and was going to make a run to the groceries she asked if I wanted to go. I said yes and at the store I decided to buy a few things for my place too. At check out she went ahead of me and when she was getting ready to pay she pulls this big envelope with coupons in there. She handed it to the cashier and she was able to save almost $20 and it was all items she really needed not like the show...she even had some for my items! It just got me thinking if maybe that's something I should start doing and if so what would be good websites to go to. I spent most of my time at work and therefore I would only be able to print from a few websites that didn't require to install anything...(that’s what my sister said)! Thanks.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Personally, I don't really do coupons.
IF I do--I only clip the ones for stuff I always buy/use.
Then I leave those on the table! :P

I think I save more by shopping at lower cost markets:ALDI or Bottom Dollar than I do by using coupons.

Do you have those stores there?

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

You don't save any real money with coupons. They are offered for brand name items.
Well, it's even CHEAPER to buy off-brand.
Plus, time is money. Such a waste of time.
Those who use coupons and say they "saved" $20 or's not real money saved. It's just the coupons are only for brand name stuff that costs too much to begin with.

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answers from St. Louis on

The question I would have is are they really items she needs or has she modified her needs to fit the coupons? So many people I know are so into coupons that is all the see. I have seen the look at my receipt and I look at it and realize I pay less without clipping the damn things. Plus I am not stuck with those specific brands.

The other problem I have is I cook, I don't defrost, heat up, mix packages, I cook. Never seem to find coupons for meat and produce.

I look at it this way, they make coupons to get you to buy what you wouldn't buy without a coupon. Ask yourself why people don't buy the products without coupons.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It doesn't help me... In general... Because 99% of what I buy doesn't get coupons. Because they're not brand type items. They're not even off brand. We're talking bulk grains, veggies & fruit, milk, eggs, etc.

Most of those I already buy at 25-50% of what they'd cost at most stores (I shop around... And at least HALF my shopping is done at Whole Foods. Because they're CHEAPER than the discount stores for many items. Just because they're more expensive than anywhere on some items doesn't mean they're across the board more expensive. And their bulk dept is to die for. Not only dirt cheap, but used constantly, so its always fresh. Most bulk foods are restocked daily, as opposed to other bulk depts that go months between restocks. Yuck.). Some things, like turkey Lunch meat, I buy at 1/100th of the normal cost. (As in lunch meat costs 11-12 per pound, but I buy whole turkeys at 11 cents per pound. I'd subtract bone weight, but I use the bones for soups.

The only things I buy that have coupons are razors, detergent, soda, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have a hard time believing that nobody uses "any" of the things on coupons. I do coupon: razors, deodorant, soap/shower gel, toothpastes, toothbrushes, handsoaps, cleaning supplies (cleaners, sponges, mop heads, etc), laundry and dish detergents, batteries, in the past the formula, foods, diapers, now pull ups for my youngest, shampoos, the kotex tampons are cheap like store brand and they regularly have coupons on top of that....tampax's coupons are not a deal though, still too expensive....facial care, occasional makeup (rare), spray starch for husband's work shirts, services like oil changes or tire care, restaurant coupons for the occasional outings or lunch dates with friends, even my Ball canning supplies (jars, lids, gel, etc), the list goes on. I do find coupons for good food too: clementines (oranges) have coupons, cereal though I do also buy bulk from my local Sprouts, sometimes there's a coupon for $1-3 off beef if you buy charcoal (which we use), this week I got $3 off a frozen turkey that was already on a post-Christmas sale if I bought 3 other items that I was going to purchase anyway. So I paid $8 for a 16lb Butterball turkey, which I roasted last night and saved the bones/broth to make a soup with later. That's a great price when you consider how many meals it will make for the family (turkey dinner, sandwiches, a small batch of gumbo, and a soup later on for the freezer). It takes me 1 hour a week; I save the Sunday paper (which is free for some reason--we don't pay but it's always delivered) and I go through the weekly circulars, our basic inventory, and coupons that we already have to make a menu for the next week.
From the menu (and a little list we keep on the fridge of things I've finally succeeded in training husband to write when he uses something up so we can replenish), I make the shopping list. I clip coupons from the current Sunday paper and organize it in a little file, about the size of a checkbook. I do ALL of that while watching Amazing Race, Revenge, or a football game with husband, depending on the month. So it does just take 1 hour to be organized for the week, which is always a week ahead since my shopping days are either Friday or Saturday. That way if something comes up, we're not having to scramble. And yes, we do buy can soups, cornbread mix, and occasionally mac'n cheese for the kids, and we do not use generic on those things. So yeah, to me and my family, we like the couponing thing. But all things in moderation! I wouldn't spend hours doing it for the amount I save, but I have no problem clipping and organizing while I am sitting on the couch for 1 hour anyway.
One final thought: Krogers sales papers don't come to the house for some reason, so I will look at it online to see if I want to go there. (I DO bring circulars with me to do price matching at Walmart, but I do NOT buy meat, seafood, or much produce there so I pick what grocer has the best deal and will go ahead and pick one to go to for the meat that week). While on the Krogers website, you can scroll through a bunch of store coupons there, and click it if you want it. You do NOT have to print anything, it's just stored on your account and if you buy it (often without even remembering it's there), you still get the savings for it. If it expires, it just expires and goes away. An e-coupon I think is what they call it. That's pretty painless. I believe in doing a little bit of many different things to save money. Saving money while still providing for your family cannot be bad in my view!

My opinion is to steer clear of websites where you have to print coupons because what you save, you'll probably spend in expensive printer ink and the paper too. E-coupons are fine for the stores you go to. Just my opinion...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd spend less time on coupons and just check out your grocery store's 'circulars', which will show you what's on sale that week. The best coupons we find online are either for the occasional Babies R Us trip, and manufacturer discounts for our son's Claritin Junior. The trick is to google the coupon specifically for what you are needing. (Like "Claritin Junior Coupon". )

The circulars are often helpful because you can sometimes find something similar to what you were already getting which will be on sale. (like, instead of green beans, corn is on sale, so you do two nights with corn as the veg and save a few bucks.) Jo's right--if you are buying 'to' the coupon, it's not working correctly. You should be shopping for bargains for what you already buy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New London on

I have couponed on and off for yrs.

Every wk, I get the coupon inserts from our Sunday paper and, then, a friend gives me her paper. So, I have a total of 6 coupon inserts.

I cut out ALL the coupons I WILL USE. Then, I sort them into category envelopes. I recycle the rest=== no clutter. This takes about 15 minutes.

On Sunday mornings, I circle what I need in the grocery store paper. Then, I see if I have coupons for those items. This takes another 15 minutes.

I do not get coupons via the internet regualrly. I like to sit and do it manually. Plus, I get alot of cereal computer coupons and I do not consume high fructose corn syrup. I buy organic cereal.

Our local grocery store has a coupon for $8.00 off a 50.00 order. Then, the organic lettuce (a big pkg) is on sale from 3.99 to 1.99. So, right there, I will save approx. $10.00---Plus, another $6.00 w/ my coupons from the inserts. Then, I have about 20 bottles to return from Christmas. That is a total of $17.00. It's worth the time...and I enjoy doing this!

Some other ideas: Our grocery store has a big section w/ 99 cent cards for all occasions. This week, alot of red craft items will be on sale. I will use them for Valentine's Day.

Every Saturday night or Sunday. I set aside a 1/2 hr to do this.

I would give your sister a master list of 10 items you purchase most often and have her SAVE those coupons for you !

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Couponing is good *if* what you are saving on the brand name items makes them less than the generic. For example, 50 cents off of a box of Honey Nut Cheerios is not bargain - even if the store double or triples the coupon, the cereal is $4 a box so you'd be paying $3 or $2.50. The store brand is $2 a box or less (usually $1.88 where I shop), every day. For a lot of the coupons, you run into the same situation where even with a coupon, the item is still more expensive than buying the cheaper store brand. So, you have to combine coupons with sales in order to save real money. For example, General Mills cereals (the maker of Honey Nut Cheerios) usually runs a big sale in September where you can get 4 or 5 boxes for $10. One year it was 5 for $10 at my grocery store, and I had five 50-cent coupons, which were doubled. So I spent $5 for 5 boxes of HNC and didn't have to buy cereal for several more weeks. is a great resource for seeing what's on sale that week. If you get a Sunday newspaper, you save the inserts and has a database that tells you what's on sale at what store and which insert from which week has the coupon to go with it. It's a lot of work and planning, but you can save 10-20% or more on your groceries. I used to carefully coupon when money was really tight, but I eventually just found it easier to shop at a grocery store where everything was cheaper.



answers from Atlanta on

I was a big coupon diva however the amount of time I was spending clipping, organizing my binder, etc. well it just became too much. I now go to Aldi's which doesn't take coupons but their prices are really good. They don't have "everything" I usually need but for the most part my grocery bill went from about 180-200 per week to about $100.00 per that's a savings I can deal with and have more time on my hands which with twin girls-I need every single second!



answers from Chicago on

I don't think this would be the best use of your time. I coupon, but I probably spend two or three hours per week clipping coupons, sorting through them, looking at grocery ads, and making my shopping list. And I only save about $15-$20 a week in a really good week. (I spend about $200 a week on groceries and other household items.)

I know I could get better savings if I bought multiple newspapers and installed coupon printers on more than one computer. But I don't have the storage space for all of those items, and I don't want to encourage overeating just because we have lots of food in the house.

I think your best bet is to plan your menu based on what is on sale or shop at Aldi, like another poster said. Sign up for your grocery store loyalty cards and go online for their personalized deals or online coupons. If you have time, try the coupons, but as a single mom, I would bet there are better things to be doing with your precious time. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

We are pressed for time.. We hit Aldi's .. and then walmart. We look throught the adds and bring them with. Walmart Price matches.

I do try and look through coupons, but it seems that it is nothing that we use..



answers from Dallas on

I have found that it takes a lot of time and effort to coupon well enough to save a decent amount. I use to do 90% of my grocery shopping at Walmart. Recently I've started shopping at Aldi's and have saved quite a bit. I can't get everything I need at Aldi's but I get enough there to make it worthwhile to shop there every 1-2 weeks. For example, 1/2 gallon of milk at Aldi's is $1.74 vs. $2.52 at Walmart. I get things like lunchmeat, cheese, cereal, chips, granola bars, canned goods and spend 30%-50% less than that I did at Walmart for these things. Good luck to you.



answers from Dallas on

Kristen is on the money with her advice. Your best bet is the Sunday paper and see what's on sale that matches something you would eat. Don't buy things you wouldnt ordinarily buy.

Save your coupons for when the item is on sale for the biggest savings.

When you use coupons try places that double or triple coupons but watch because sometimes that just brings it to a comparable price for Aldis or Walmart.

Keep your menu for the week flexible to make room for what's on sale. Bread on sale? Its french toast night. Sandwich night. Strata night.
Keep an eye out for specials and staples you can freeze.

The most expensive thing you buy is whatever food you throw away. Get Walmart to price match your circular for other places. Balance your time with your savings.

After holiday sales are great for special touches and stick to anything that doesn't have a special theme printed on the item. Right now you need to be looking at Christmas stuff 90 percent off.



answers from San Antonio on

I have a relative that saves the Sunday coupons and circulars for me.

I go through and cut out only the coupons for things that I actually buy on a regular basis.

I save about 2 to 3 dollars a trip...but most things I buy will never have a coupon and I mostly buy fresh produce and meats. But our store will sometimes print coupons for you at check out...and those are more helpful than the ones in the paper.



answers from Fargo on

I recently moved to a place without an i stick to walmart and being in sale adds for price matching. I tried couponing, but its not usually for stuff i buy. We are very natural (meat, veggies) so no coupons for that. I do buy meat when its marked down....i will use it or cook and freeze right away. I also buy generic which is cheaper than namebrand with a coupon.



answers from San Francisco on

I'm the single parent of three teens and I find that careful shopping saves me the most money. Dollar Tree has many of the items people are using coupons for and the quality of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, ointments, etc. is fine. I even tried a gallon of laundry detergent they sell and it worked fine! They sell equivalents to Oxiclean and Febreze too. I also get amazing deals at Grocery Outlet. Greek yogurt 3/$1.00 that normally sells for $1.50! I buy most of my produce there too. You never know what amazing deals you're going to find there. most of the rest I buy at Smart &Final and Costco. I buy at Safeway mostly for stuff on sale and things I can't get elsewhere.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I couponed on and off for a while. I use Jill Cataldo's method, which really doesn't take that much time. You just pull the Sunday circular, write the date on the front and file it in a filing cabinet. Then, you use her website to match up the deals with the coupons. She tells you which circular to cut the coupon out from. Unfortunately for you, she's local to Chicago so most of her deals are local, not national. Still, I was able to at least one free item a week--usually stuff we needed! It's a different way of thinking--a different way of buying. I have stocked up on things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc. All FREE!

A lot of the deals mean you take advantage of stores like Walgreens with their "Extra Care Bucks." If you buy a combination of certain products, you can get free "bucks" to use in the store toward anything you want. For example, I bought two packs of hair rubber bands (which we needed) and used coupons on them. Then, because I purchased those certain hair bands I got $3 EC Bucks, which I could put toward something else I needed.

Couponing became too hard because there are "hoarders" in our area that would clean the shelves. I would go to get the deodorant (which happened to be the one my husband uses) and the shelf would be EMPTY! Who needs 10 deodorants? I only was going to get 1. Or I'd go to get dryer sheets and again, the shelves would be empty. It became too much trouble to go to a store with a list of things to buy with my coupons, only to find that the shelves were empty. It did take some time to cut the coupons out!

I would suggest finding a good website that helps you match up the deals. That cuts a lot of time down. Then you can organize your inserts using Jill Cataldo's method. Really, you can clip/print coupons and it takes maybe 10 minutes of your time. By matching the deals, you can save a lot on things you need.

I also suggest looking at a lot of the websites that tell you how to save money in other ways. For example, I make my own detergent for super cheap. Laundry detergent can be expensive! There are also instructions on how to make your own hand wipes using cheap paper towels, and we've switched to cloth napkins. We save on electricity by unplugging things when they aren't in use. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I've couponed on and off for 20 years. It can be a really good thing, and if you are tight on money, then you should coupon. It's about changing your mentality, and only buying when things are cheap---$3 Gap shorts, for instance, or 50% off wrapping paper. In fact, I always shop clearance, if I can.

With that said, in the last 6 months, I've gotten lazy. The coupons haven't been that good. What once was $1 off is now .30c. We aren't hurting for money, so I frequently decide my time is worth more than the 5 buck savings. But if we were hurting, then you bet I'd be working the coupons, but it is a full time job, and I am 30 weeks pregnant and have more pressing concerns ---though I am currently shopping clearance for baby items.

But to really save, you are going to have to get 2-4 Sunday papers and shop a good 3-5 hours a week.

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