Money saving coupons work well for a lot of people. Many frugal living experts, personal finance gurus, and thrifty parents swear by their coupon binder. They can tell you how much money they saved, or how much free stuff they got in a given week, like so many baseball stats. Even those who don’t take couponing to the limit like a scissor-wielding extreme sport may feel strongly about it; they’ll recommend it to anyone, saying they don’t know how they would shop without their coupons anymore.
And if couponing works for you, by all means keep doing it! Who am I to tell you not to pick up freebies or cut your grocery bill in half each month? Why would you stop shopping on days when you can double or triple coupon values? All I’m saying is that couponing doesn’t work for everyone. Here are some reasons why couponing might not be for you.
If… You Are Suggestible
This might be you, if you come across a coupon and then can’t resist buying the product because it’s just “such a good deal.” If you don’t usually buy the product at all, and don’t really need it, how much is that coupon really saving you? Keep in mind that manufacturers release coupons to get people to buy their products; it’s just advertising. If you can’t resist making unnecessary purchases because you get dazzled by cut-price offers, couponing probably won’t save you money in the long run.
If… You Are Disorganized
Simply put, clipping coupons that you never use is a sad waste of your time. Just like hunting for coupons you never clip, or piling up newspapers with the intention of clipping coupons…and then never getting around to it. If you are disorganized or severely prone to procrastination, couponing probably isn’t the best bet for you; there are likely better uses of your time and energy.
If… You Shop Mostly for Farm Foods
The fact is that, as I said above, coupons are a form of advertisement. And that means that it is very rare to find coupons for a dollar off of fresh asparagus or fifty cents off of salmon steaks. You’ll find promotions like this at the grocery store, but not as often in the form of coupons.
And that is the biggest problem with couponing to me: the more healthy your diet, the less likely you are to find coupons you can use. There are generally no coupons at the farmer’s market or farm stand. If you eat fresh foods from smaller retailers, you may be able to cut a few dollars off your grocery bill every now and then, but don’t expect to cut your food expenses in half.
All this is not to say that you won’t sometimes find a coupon or two that works for you. But just like any other financial choice, you’ve got to know yourself well before you start trying to make changes in how you live. So if you’re thinking about taking up couponing, first make sure it will be worth your while.