Coupons: Are They Worth Clipping?
We used to buy the Sunday paper and I enjoyed clipping coupons to save a few bucks. However, I find fewer coupons in the paper for products I use these days.
This has a lot to do with changes in my purchasing habits. Over the years I stopped buying many prepared foods, cleaning products, soda pop, or brand name items. I use baking soda and vinegar for a lot of cleaning tasks, most of my baking supplies are ordered through buying clubs, and I am much more selective about my purchases now.
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I do find coupons through my Swagbucks account and I not only save money with them, but I also earn points that I redeem for gift cards. I don’t spend a lot of time on it, but I usually earn around $30 in Amazon gift cards each year just by searching with the Swagbucks search engine, using coupons, referrals (if you join through my link, I earn referral points, at no cost to you), and purchasing items online through my account (items I was planning to purchase anyway). This may not seem like big savings, but it helps out and money saved is better than money earned because you don’t have to pay income taxes on it!
You can also find coupons through Lozo. This coupon search site allows you to sign up for coupons for certain categories. For example, you can sign up to receive notifications about coupons for yogurt, breakfast cereal, or coffee, if those are things you purchase often. (You many need to download free software to print the coupons.)
Of course, I’m probably not normal because I usually only clip a half dozen coupons a week. And I still spend way less at the store than the average shopper. Judging by what I see in other peoples’ grocery carts, it seems that many of them buy cases of soda and bottled water, frozen pizzas, snack foods, mounds of meat, bread products, a few fruits and veggies, and all kinds of prepared foods. I’m astounded by the total at the cash register…even when they hand over a stack of coupons to the cashier.
I Am Not Anti-Coupon…
I’m not knocking coupons or trying to shame anyone for their purchasing decisions. Most families are trying to work multiple jobs, juggle crazy schedules, and spend more time having fun on their day off. So please don’t get angry with me for putting down soda or convenience items…I’m really not. We certainly aren’t purists in our household and I buy these things on occasion too.
However, if you are using coupons to save a few pennies on items you don’t need, you are spending more money in the long run. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all done it. But we don’t have to keep making the same purchasing decisions in the future.
Ways To Save Money On Groceries:
- Clip coupons for items you normally purchase.
- Rethink the items you normally purchase! Do you need them?
- Occasionally clip coupons for items you would like to try. (I’m pretty selective about this.)
- Scan the sale ads for the grocery stores you go to regularly.
- Purchase items on sale, only if you use them.
- Check your pantry before writing out a grocery list so you don’t over buy.
- Make a grocery list before you shop.
- Run multiple errands in one trip and shop once a week to save gas.
- Find stores that have the best prices and stick with them for most purchases.
- Eat fewer; meats, prepared and empty calorie foods (especially soda).
- Make foods from scratch, including; meals, yogurt, bread, snacks, pizza, and granola.
- Eat at home instead of eating out. (We only eat out on special occasions.)
- Take snacks when you run errands to prevent hunger purchases and buying snacks.
- Pack lunches for work.
- Drink less alcohol.
- If you smoke, quit. (Coupons won’t save you money on cancer treatments.)
- Drink less coffee or switch to tea.
- Skip the fast food joints.
- Don’t buy bottled water, coffee to go, and other convenience items.
- Eat healthy foods; fresh veggies and fruits, lean meats, whole grains.
- Eat foods in season, buy extra when they are cheap and preserve for later.
- Barter for locally grown foods.
- Join buying clubs and purchase items in bulk…but only if you will use them up before they go rancid.
- Freeze bulk flours, grains, and pasta to prevent meal worm infestations.
- Grow a garden and preserve the harvest.
- Raise your own livestock for meat, milk and eggs. *
* I have found that raising my own livestock does not produce cheaper meat, eggs and milk because I have to purchase most of my feed. If you can grow your own feed, this may help reduce expenses.
This Is Not A ‘One Size Fits All’ List
Many of these ideas seem like obvious ways to cut down on grocery expenses, but you may not agree. Everyone needs to decide for themselves if certain conveniences are worth the price. Do you find justifications for some of these purchases? That’s fine! (I spend extra on some organic foods, but I make up for that by cooking from scratch.)
If you are trying to set aside some cash, it is worth looking at these ideas more closely. Work out a weekly, monthly, and yearly budget. Figure out where you can cut back on expenses. The grocery budget isn’t the only place to cut back!
We had to adjust our spending habits when I left my job to be a stay at home mom. Now we are putting our son through college and planning for retirement. We’ve also had some extra medical expenses over the last year with my hip replacement surgery. Needless to say, we are looking for further ways to stretch the budget to cover our expenses.
I found a new home for my chickens and we actually spend less money on eggs now…even though we purchase locally raised eggs. We are using up a lot of home canned and frozen foods that I’ve preserved. I’m excited about having a garden this year for fresh foods and for restocking the pantry. As I heal from my surgery I’m rekindling my love for making foods from scratch…something that was difficult to do last year.
I still clip coupons. But I save more money by not buying certain things than I do by using coupons. Can you save money with coupons? Of course! Just clip conscientiously. 🙂
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.