Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is It Worth It To Clip Coupons?

With my family, every penny counts, so I must be a coupon clipper, right?
There are so many reasons not to cut coupons. But, when we moved and my husband got a lower paying job in a higher costing area, I frantically searched for ways to cut expenses. Coupon pushers are all over the web. I resisted. It didn't seem like a good idea. Finally, I gave in and signed up for 12 weeks of the newspaper for $20. Some of these coupon pushers seemed like they were really saving.
The best deals were at the pharmacies, CVS and Rite Aid. I got some free stuff at some grocery stores, as well. When the coupons came in, I would go to and search for all the products in the coupons, and from coupons I had from previous weeks as well. I also went to the CVS and Rite Aid websites and "flipped" through their circulars. I got a lot of stuff for not a lot of money. It pushed me to the edge, until finally, I snapped.
I snapped when I brought home red colored cereal. What was that? What was in it? Did I really feel comfortable with my children eating it? No!
Have you ever seen a coupon for a head of lettuce? How about a gallon of milk? Honey? There must be some for honey! No, food is not featured in coupons. It is stuff that resembles food, like Hamburger Helper, and Oscar Meyer Weiners. Sometimes bagged lettuce or name brand canned fruit, but why do we have to buy the packaging?
Also, usually, we didn't get a better deal on our groceries. We got more variety than we could otherwise afford, but we didn't actually save on our total grocery bill.
But the toiletries... oh the toiletries, from the pharmacies, CVS and Rite Aid. Often they were free, or at least when I got them- I wouldn't pay for them. You know what I got from Rite Aid for free? Saline solution spray. I wanted to sell it on eBay, but my Dad said it was illegal to mail. So, I have it. Thanks Rite Aid. I got a bottle of shampoo there too, free, some free deodorant, and some "food," which has long been consumed.
If you want to save money AND want to have a healthy family, couponing is not the way to go. Cooking real food that your family likes is the way to go. Finding the lowest prices on the ingredients you use most will save you actual money.
Time is also a factor. For some reason, we think that two hours a week browsing coupons and fliers takes up less time than a two hours kneading dough and chopping onions.


Organizing Mommy said...

This has been my take on the coupon world also. Interesting. All the pre-packaged food and stuff! ugh.

Caroline said...

In general, I tend to disagree. I think I eat healthy and make many of my food from scratch (bread, tortillas, waffles and such), but I still coupon. I do not do the CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid games, just the grocery stores. I think if you are aware and take some time to look (it does take time), you'll find some coupons that will be helpful to you. I just printed off some online coupons and saw ones available for olive oil, Stevia, and honey. Milk and yogurt coupons are everywhere as well as condiments (such as soy sauce, tabasco sauce, etc.) and spices. After buying some Post cereal, I had a catalina for $3 off a $10 produce purchase. I have used meat coupons and Target often offers store coupons making their apples and bananas virtually free. Anyway, I agree that it takes time and there are more coupons for snack items then other foods, but if you take the time, you will save money in the end on those items and toiletries. I have saved tons on toiletries that I use. I don't get them otherwise. Even with couponing you have a choice as to what you "buy".

I don't mean for this to seem like I'm attacking, because I'm not. I just hear this all the time and I think sometimes if people took a closer look, they'd see some more options that they'd find helpful. If you just don't want the hassle of coupons, that's one thing, but to say they don't save you money on anything but red cereal, in my opinion, is not correct.

I am enjoying your blog and hope this comes across and just a discussion as I'd like it to be. I am curious to try your soda recipe. I have never thought to try making that!

Emily said...

You bring up a good point, especially with the toiletries. As I said, I did get free shampoo and deodorant. You can really get all your toiletries for free. Personally, I am going for more natural alternatives for toiletries at this point in my life.

Milk coupons are usually for the higher priced brands of milk, and even after the coupon, the store brand is usually cheaper. From what I have seen, this is generally true of most of the healthy food coupons.

I'm sure that you're right, that if you put the time in, you can save on certain things. It also seems like the pickier you are about your food, the less return you will get on your time investment.

I'm glad you like the blog and that you posted your thoughts. It sounds like you have wisdom to share and I hope you share your thoughts in the comments again.

Anonymous said...

I have gotten quite a few produce items free from Super Target. They have them on sale and have Super Target Web coupons. I have gotten the following free or for cents(under a dollar): grapes, bananas, apples, broccoli, and cauliflower. I loaded up on free bananas and froze them when they ripened for homemade banana bread. I was also able to get Bing Cherries from a grocery store with their on-line coupons.

Your blog is SO neat. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Emily said...

Hmmm, I'll have to keep an eye on Target. From this weeks flyer and the web coupons there is not much available, but I've added Target to my list of stores on and will keep an eye out for deals.

Sarah said...

I agree with you for the most part. I too have toiletries I got for free that I don't need and don't really see anybody else needing. When you see the coupon queens post pictures of the food they purchased, all the free or really cheap stuff is junk or something they could have made at home easily. Usually they pay the full prices on their produce, milk, "real" meat, etc...

Lyn said...

Love your blog! You are a younger version of myself, only I wish I had gotten all of this down when I was younger. :) Keep up the great work, I love your thoughts and what you share.

I finally cut back on coupons myself as I got tired of running around for "stuff". I rarely use many coupons now, and am focusing on real foods too. I don't do the drug stores as much anymore because I'm trying to eliminate all the chemically-contained HBA products as well.

Jill said...

I'm a couponer. Emily, if you don't want to invest too much time (or money, with buying the Sunday paper), why don't you try emailing the companies directly? I've had fantastic results with this. Emailing or phoning (if you call, be prepared to be on hold! Knead your bread while you're waiting!) is the best. Oftentimes they'll send you a FREE coupon for your trouble. This way you'll be getting coupons for items that you actually purchase.

A little OT, I read on a different post of yours that you use energy-saving lightbulbs. If they dare quit before their promised lifetime, give the company a call! Voila! Free replacement coupon. After all ... we were all planning on that bulb lasting 5 years like the box said!

Julie said...

I get a lot of "going bad fruit" on sale and the kids won't eat them very well, so I've started drying them. The food dryer is a small investment but dried bananas are priceless around here. My kids want a dried banana or apple ring over crackers! A trick with drying the bananas, peel the whole thing, then press your finger down the axis and it splits three ways and I dry them long. The kids really like them long. (even my five month old, who gets one every now and then)
It's amazing how many things you can dry and put to another use after. I took the left over apple peels and soaked them in lemon juice, drained 'em and sprinkled with cinnamon, dried 'em and put them in our granola bars!
Hmmm, this kinda stuff makes me happy!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the non-coupon shopping. There are no coupons for the stuff I want to buy. :(

Marie said...

King Arthur flour, which you indicate you use, is often a steal with coupons. Do you make soup? Perhaps canned soup (Progresso) isn't your thing, but I bought 27 cans of it for tax only. Low sodium, hearty soup. Or yogurt? Do you like Yoplait? I am getting 6 packs of it and the stores is paying ME $5 to take it home. Spend the $5 on organic milk (btw, there are often great deals on this, too). Are there a lot of coupons for things you don't need? Sure. But I think the problem here is that you don't have the time to learn about the "correct" way of doing it. You're busy. I see that. But in actuality you are missing out on alot that you would use. Toiletpaper, detergent, etc. I get it all for free and I can assure you I'm not spending 2 hours a week doing it or running around to stores.

Marie said...

I did want to add that my freezer is stocked with prime meats (chicken breasts, pork loins, roasts etc) fomr doing super market deals. These cost me virtually nothing. try for excellent tips.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you try couponing again. You can get quality food items for pennies. Not only can you save money for yourself, but if you take the time to do "extreme couponing" you will often wind up buying things you don't need, simply because the coupons make them free or, even better, you make money off buying them (maybe 10 cents to a quarter). I take these items to our church's crisis ministry food bank.

Double the pleasure - helping someone and getting a tax write off!

Simply Natural Homestead said...

Thanks for confirming what I already thought. Every time I see coupons, it's for Campbell's soup or some other MSG laden, prepackaged "food product". And usually brand name, which is more expensive. If you buy that stuff, coupons are probably great. If you don't, they're no use. I used to see some coupons at a local store for produce, even organic, but I've moved, and the stores here don't seem to do that.

I thought about using, but since I buy mostly organic, I figured it's just a waste of time, and meanwhile I'm basically "selling" my email address to be given out to advertisers. But I guess it depends on what your local stores have to offer.

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