You won’t believe how many people tell me that couponing is expensive and not worth the time and effort. This used to shock me until a friend broke it all down and explained why she was skeptical about using coupons. Here were her arguments along with what I have to say about the true cost of couponing.
1. The cost of buying newspaper coupon inserts weekly is too high.
There are three different coupon inserts that are included in the cost of a Sunday newspaper: Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), and Procter & Gamble (PG). The coupons within each insert range in value from $0.25-$2 each. So while a Sunday newspaper might cost you $2, you get way more value than that in coupons! In fact, most Sundays, you’ll receive at least $50 worth of coupons in a single paper.
Look, if the cost of the Sunday newspaper is too much, there are ways to get copies for a buck (like at the dollar store) or free. Check out these 11 Ways to Get Free Sunday Newspaper Coupons.
2. Printing your own coupons is too expensive.
A printer, an Internet connection, ink, and paper are all you need to print manufacturer and store coupons. Once those initial things are purchased, your total cost for printing coupons really isn’t much—especially if you print only in black and white. One printed page with three coupons ends up costing about $0.11. So, if you were to print three coupons valued at $0.50 each, that means your total savings after printing costs is $1.39. Not bad at all.
If you don’t have a printer or Internet at home, you can even print coupons from your phone via cloud printing at your local library or community center! Typically it’s $0.10-$0.25 per page to print, so be sure that the coupon values you print are more than the cost of printing!
It may be wise to invest in your own printer, and we’ll always post the best printer and ink deals. But if you’re interested in buying one right now, check out the Canon PIXMA MG3620. Amazon sells this budget printer for about $50. It’s compact, easy to set up, and allows you to print coupons from your mobile device. Plus, KCL frequently posts penny paper deals so no need to worry about the cost of printer paper.
Plus, you don’t have to scour the Web and spend too much time finding free printable coupons–KCL does that for you too, and has the world’s most comprehensive coupon database right on the site. Here’s How to Find and Print Free Internet Coupons.
3. Buying multiples of the same product is a waste of money.
Most sales have a cycle of six weeks. By purchasing multiples of an item when it’s at a rock-bottom price–and stacking sales and coupons to pay even less–you’ll rarely have to pay full-price for the things you need again.
For example, say you typically buy cereal every week. You may luck out and find it on sale today, but then you pay full price the next four weeks until the sale cycle starts again. Instead, if you buy five boxes while it’s on sale today, you’ll reap the benefits over the next few weeks. By stocking up when the price is super low, you’ll have enough of that product until the next sales cycle comes around.
4. Purchasing products you won’t use isn’t frugal.
Even the best deal is a waste if you’re never going to use an item you spent money on.
However, sometimes deals for an item you have no intention of using will make you money. Couponers call these deals “moneymakers.” If you’re going to get money back or have overage that is above the tax cost on a product, then whether you use it or not, you should purchase it so that you can earn money. Then, donate the product to a charity in your area or include it in a gift basket if you don’t plan on using it.
Here’s what moneymakers look like on KCL:
5. Buying products you don’t need in order to get store or rebate-app credit is throwing money away.
Some deals like the moneymakers listed in tip 4 and the deal below from Target, involve spending money for products that produce store or rebate-app credits which can be used for future purchases. The thing is, if you’re earning more money in credits than you spent for a product, you’re not wasting money. You’re investing in future purchases at the store. Take a look at this gift-card deal from Target:
A non-couponer may look at this deal and think, “Why would I need three packs of razors? I’d have to pay $2 more out of pocket by pursuing this deal than I would by just buying one pack.” Sure, you’re paying $2 more right now, but check out all the razors you’re getting that will last you at least a year! And once you factor in that $5 Target gift card (which, by the way, you can use the same day for anything else you need), you end up spending only $0.99 for razors that normally cost $5.99.
When it comes to rebate-app money, most apps require you to accumulate a minimum balance before cashing out via PayPal–all do except MobiSave. (By the way, rebate apps are one of the easiest ways to save without clipping a coupon. With rebate apps, you’re required to buy certain products, then afterwards snap a photo of your receipt for full or partial reimbursement.) Think of your Ibotta and Checkout 51 accounts as savings accounts since they both require a $20 minimum balance to cash out. Once you have enough to cash out, transfer the money directly into a real savings account or use it to pay off debt so you don’t spend it frivolously. Learn more about rebate apps with The Ultimate Comprehensive Guide to Rebate Apps.
RELATED: How to Coupon at Walgreens
6. Clipping coupons takes too much time.
You may have seen couponers in the store lugging around bulky coupon binders. That’s one way to stay organized, and we recommend choosing one night to do all your clipping and coupon-binder organizing to save time. Sundays are great because that’s when coupon inserts come in the newspaper. Also, most coupons expire on Sundays so you can toss out any that are no longer valid at the same time.
If carrying around a coupon binder isn’t your thing, we recommend using the file-box system. In my opinion, it’s actually faster and easier. Just label folders in your file box by date and store whole inserts until you need a coupon. We’ll even tell you which inserts to find the coupons needed for the deals we post. Look for “SS” (Smart Source), “RP” (Red Plum), and “PG” (Procter & Gamble) followed by a date in the deals we write up, then clip just the coupons you need. No need to carry around the actual file box. If you’re short on time, this is definitely the way to go.
For the most time-pressed shopper, we’d recommend just using your smartphone to coupon. Take advantage of rebate apps, Target Cartwheel, and digital store and manufacturer coupons that require no clipping at all.
7. Shopping with coupons takes forever.
Not when you use the free The Krazy Coupon Lady app! Browse hand-curated deals and search by store, product, or brand. Also, create and access shopping lists and deals right from your phone. Seriously, it’s one of the easiest ways to keep your coupon shopping trips organized, which is super important when checking out with coupons at the register.
Another way to cut down shopping time is by picking three top stores instead of trying to coupon at all the retailers in your area. Choose your stores based on their best sales, location, and how friendly the staff is. This will cut down your time searching through tons of stores’ pages looking for deals.
And instead of wasting time running home to get coupons when you’re out and about, just keep your coupons with you in the car. If you see an unexpected item on clearance, you’ll have easy access to any matching coupons!
8. There are never coupons for the brands and products I like.
Hey, we all like our brands and if you’re not willing to budge on trying a different product, then enjoy. But, there’s a whole world of products out there, and you may surprise yourself by liking something new (like the roasted kale that was only $0.07 with a coupon at Whole Foods).
You can be brand-loyal and successfully coupon, but you may see significantly less savings than someone willing to try new brands. That’s because when manufacturers launch new products, they’ll also release high-value coupons so consumers will try them. Pair those high-value coupons with sales, and you just scored the latest new item for free or extremely cheap!
9. It’s not worth couponing if the generic brand is already cheap.
It’s true, the shelf price on generic products is almost always cheaper than name-brand items. But when you bring coupons to the mix, you’ll oftentimes find you can score the high-quality, name-brand products cheaper than the generic versions—or at least at a similar price. Check the KCL’s Deals section to find these types of deals.
In the meantime, at least choose the better-tasting product: 25 Name Brand vs Generic Face Offs: Best and Worst Revealed!
10. Spending money to stockpile isn’t worth it.
By stockpiling while something is at a rock-bottom price, you’ll rarely have to pay full price for it again. Also, having a stockpile saves you time because you don’t have to take those extra trips to the store when you’re missing an ingredient or don’t have anything on the menu for dinner. Plus, your stockpile has your back if an emergency strikes–whether it be a natural disaster, job loss, sickness, etc., you don’t have to worry about going out and spending money.
When a deal is really good, we’ll recommend you grab three months’ worth of product. If the deal is really, really good, get six months’ worth! Look for these symbols next to the final price in the deals we post:
If you’re ready to start saving with a stockpile, here are 10 items to stock up on:
Stock-Up Price: $0.25–$0.75
Deal Example: Herbal Essence Shampoo, Only $0.50 at Walmart
Stock-Up Price: Free–$0.50
Deal Example: Free Colgate Optic White Toothpaste at Walgreens
Stock-Up Price: $0.50–$1.00
Deal Example: Tiny Toast Cereal, Only $0.63 at Kroger
Stock-Up Price: $0.10–$0.20 per diaper
Deal Example: Huggies & Pull-Ups Packs, Only $4.00 at Walgreens
- Canned Fruit/Veggies
Stock-Up Price: $0.35–$1.25
Deal Example: Libby’s Vegetables, Only $0.35 at Publix
- Canned Soup
Stock-Up Price: $0.35–$0.65
Deal Example: Progresso Soup, Only $0.44 at Target
Stock-Up Price: $0.35–$0.75
Deal Example: Old Spice or Secret Deodorant, Only $0.38 at Walgreens
- Peanut Butter
Stock-Up Price: $1.00–$1.50
Deal Example: Gold Emblem Abound Peanut Butter, Only $0.99 at CVS
- Toilet Paper
Stock-Up Price: $0.18–$0.23 per roll
Deal Example: Scott Extra Soft Toilet Paper, $0.21 per Roll at Target
- Feminine Hygiene Products (Pads)
Stock-Up Price: $0.25–$0.55
Deal Example: Moneymaker U by Kotex Liners at Rite Aid
Groceries aren’t the only things you should stockpile! Here’s how I stay prepared when one of my kids announces they’ve been invited to a birthday party: How I Built My Gift Stockpile for Birthdays and Weddings.