The Good,The Bad, and The Ugly of Couponing

by Frugal Brian

save a buck

Who doesn’t want to save money? As many would say, especially during the past two or three years, finding ways to save money is vital to our own personal finances. But the truth is that money has always and will continue to be tight for growing families or those on a fixed income. There is never quite enough to stretch until the next paycheck. And the grocery store tends to be an enormous money pit because we all have to eat, right? I can go to my neighborhood grocery store and spent around fifty dollars, come home with a bag including typical ingredients like bread, milk, flour, canned veggies, ground beef, pasta, and maybe some cookies for the kids, and that’s about all. Then within a few days I find it necessary to return to that grocery store for more. I try to make my purchases in bulk, or at least stock up until the next payday, but it’s difficult to do. Forgotten items or things that come up unexpectedly lure me back to that store where they wait for me with outstretched hands at the check out counter. I’ve tried to explain this to my husband when he asks how I can spend $150 to $250 a week on food. Heck I’ve tried to explain this to myself and had difficulty!

Enter couponing and store membership incentives

When I first began using coupons, they typically saved me seven to fifteen cents per each coupon. They were considered more bother than they were worth and stores then had to send them off to redemption centers to get the money returned that they had taken off for us, the consumers. Finally, when manufacturers began printing and distributing savings vouchers (coupons) that were worth the trouble, we started taking their use seriously. Now coupons typically save twenty five to fifty cents or more and some stores even double or triple their value as an incentive to shop there. So many of us then tend to go to the opposite extreme and try to use every coupon we get our hands on! If we have a one dollar off coupon for something yucky which we’d normally never bring home, now there is an incentive with that dollar off to buy it anyhow. How is that saving money?

Store brands vs cents off coupons – which saves us more?

Most big name super markets have their own store brands and in the majority of instances, they are just as good (sometimes even better) than the “big brand” names we see advertised everywhere (think how much that costs). So what we may see on the shelf is $3.50 for a five pound bag of all purpose flour with the “big name” on the bag while next to it lays the store brand with its plain label and it’s only $2.00. I have a twenty five cent off coupon for the “big name” flour and my grocer will double that, making that bag of flour only $3. Still the store brand is a dollar less than that but do I go with the big brand because they say its better? Or do I buy the store brand because it’s cheaper? Realistically, that flour is most likely all made at the same place, just bagged up with different labels. Same thing is true for most other items in the grocery isles so why bother using coupons? Well they do sometimes save money, even give you cash back for making purchases. Manufacturers like Proctor & Gamble http://www.pg.com/en_US/index.shtml periodically will be quite generous with their coupons in Sunday papers and online couponing sites like daily grocery coupon http://www.dailygrocerycoupon.com/sah/lp2.php?t202id=1278&c1=a1&t202kw=coupons will offer them free. All you have to do is print them off.

Consider shopping online
Online shopping can save money, especially on those states where you can save on taxes. In addition use coupon codes to get prices even lower. Coupon sites like http://www.couponloco.com provide cheap coupons for many different merchants across the web. My favorite are travel coupons from sites like orbitz or expedia.

Saving money is necessary but make sure you’ll use it

Saving a dollar is not really saving when the item won’t be used, eaten, or worn. And buying junk food just to save money is never a good idea! If you try to run a healthy house and bring home candy bars just because there was a fifty cent off coupon you could not resist using, how does that make sense? Be selective when clipping grocery coupons and only choose those that you will actually use for items that follow your guidelines for a healthy happy family. Things for personal use such as razors, deodorants, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo are another matter and most often we each have a personal preference as to brand and type. Again there are store brands which may save more than that typical major label with a cents off coupon involved, so you must decide which is more valuable to your family? Toothpaste, as an example, is one item that most people are “picky” about. We each have a flavor preference. Don’t buy toothpaste just because you save a dollar with a coupon when no one will use that brand! You might just as well throw that dollar bill away instead because it just goes to waste on items that will never be used.

Use coupons but don’t go to extremes!

They even make television programs now that show how to save serious money using coupons at the grocery store. Web sites like the krazy coupon lady http://thekrazycouponlady.com/coupons-com/ provide us with a wide assortment of printable coupons. But try to justify that coupon before even clipping or printing it. If it tempts you to buy junk food you do not need or items that most likely will never be used, that simply does not save money!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Grocery Coupons January 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Hi,

I totally agree about the fact that store products are equally good when compared to Brand Name Products. But you are missing an important fact. When the store runs their promotions on Brand Name product, you can practically get them for free after combining them with a coupon.

Thanks!!

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