According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of women today (in 2013) are the breadwinners of the home compared to just 11 percent in 1960. I fall into that category, as does one of my good friends. So it was no surprise to me when that friend of mine wanted to try couponing to make more of her income and asked me for advice.

But her first question did come as a surprise to me. She asked, "How much do I have to pay to get started?" I must admit that when I heard her question, I really didn't understand it. It wasn't until we talked more that I actually comprehended what she was asking, and why she was asking it.

My friend had heard — and, unfortunately, read — some misleading information about couponing. Her misinformation made her think couponing was a shopping strategy with an expensive start-up cost. Her line of thinking included some myths about being a Krazy Coupon Lady:

  • Myth #1: To understand couponing, store policies, and verbiage, she needed to pay for and attend a face-to-face couponing class.
  • Myth #2: To get coupons, she had to pay expensive, full-price subscription fees to multiple newspapers and magazines to have a year-round supply of offers.
  • Myth #3: To access store matchups and learn about in-store deals, she needed to pay a user fee to a couponing site.

Needless to say, I was quick to put the brakes on my friend's line of thinking by busting her myths. But I was also upfront in telling her there are some "costs" associated with being a KCL — but not in the ways she might have thought.

Can my friend "afford" to be a KCL (and can you)? Here's a list of costs and benefits to help her (and you) see if it's possible.

What it will cost: Some investment in publications.
What you will gain: High return on your investment.

KCLs do need access to coupons, but spending lots of money for at-home publications is not the only way to amass a supply. RedPlum, SmartSource, Coupons.com, and our own KCL coupon database provide a nearly endless supply of coupon printing possibilities — for free! A KCL may want to subscribe to a few choice publications for at-home delivery, but this is not necessary. A KCL can buy Sunday papers only (since they have inserts) straight from a newsstand or wait for a deal on a coupon-heavy magazine like All You, for which our site routinely lists offers (like this one for a free Wal-Mart gift card with a discounted subscription or this BOGO offer). Either way, a $2 publication is easily going to net over $20 in usable coupons! No other financial strategy is going to net you that kind of money.

What it will cost: Time to plan, match up, and organize.
What you will gain: More quality time when NOT couponing.

KCL helps you manage your time by doing the work for you. You simply have to find your store (look, for example, at this CVS link) to see available deals. KCL also helps you organize your coupons from the newspaper (click here and use the "Newspaper Coupons" tab) and posts beginner advice, and other deals and tips to help you spend less time on your own and more time actually getting the deals. Then, when you're not couponing, you can satisfactorily enjoy the time you have with your kids and family, without worrying about making ends meet at the store. You'll be more relaxed and have more quality downtime.

What it will cost: Some gasoline to travel from store to store.
What you will gain: More/better deals by shopping around.

You may find that you desire to drive to a slightly out-of-the-way store or make more than one trip per week to take advantage of super deals, so as a KCL you might drive to the store more often than before. The money you spend here, though, is totally up to you, and there are benefits to simply shopping one store. Given the area in which you live, this might even be the best personal option.

What it will cost: Patience.
What you will gain: Immense personal satisfaction.

In store, you will practice patience at the register, patience as you perhaps get a rain check instead of a deal immediately in hand, and patience as you wait from week to week for the best deals for your family. However, you'll quickly gain satisfaction knowing you are spending your money wisely and that you can provide well for you and your family using coupons. It's a great feeling, as many of our readers are quick to show.

So weighing the "costs" against the gains, what do you think: can you afford to be a KCL?