Is it really worth it to spend the time and effort to use coupons? If you believe the statistics, the majority of Americans would say, “Yes.” CreditCards.com says 85% of Americans use coupons on a regular basis. While RetailMeNot.com says that number is closer to 96%. So, basically, all of us? That seems a little difficult to believe, although we wouldn’t consider ourselves “coupon clippers”, but we have used some in the past year.
I (Scott) have memories of my mom clipping coupons during the Broncos game. She’d turn on the game and open up the Sunday paper and start clipping away like Edward Scissorhands. As a kid I didn’t pay much attention, but as a teen with a job I remember thinking, “Yeah, that does not look like fun.”
Of course, at that time I didn’t know my Money Personalities were Spender / Security Seeker. So I don’t mind spending money and when I do I’m a bit more brand and quality conscious than price conscious. So I’m not much of a coupon-er.
Neither is Bethany, but we do see the value. And we have enjoyed some really fun, new experiences and restaurants with friends of ours who love a great Groupon.
We understand the value of saving money everywhere you can. And budgets often derail when the little overages aren’t taken into account. Coupon savings can help with that sometimes, but overall does it pay to clip?
Your Money Personalities will definitely affect whether you naturally wish to clip coupons, but here are 3 questions for everyone to ask yourself to determine if clipping is worth it to you:
1. Do coupons help me buy more healthy, or non-healthy, foods?
You’ll notice there are no coupons for lettuce. The grocery store coupons are usually for salty, sugary, high-priced items. Like the unicorn PopTarts I bought “for the boys”. I can’t help it. I love PopTarts so the coupon seemed to justify that purchase. And, truth be told, the boys didn’t eat most of them, I did.
Coupons tend to convince me to buy the latest, fun cereal or fancy canned drink. So be on the lookout for the quality of the item for which they’re offering you a discount.
2. Is this coupon encouraging me to buy something I don’t need?
Often a “great deal” is a horrible deal because you would have spent $0 if you hadn’t seen the coupon. Restaurant deals are often this way. We could save lots more than the coupon if we toss the coupon and eat at home. But we do love to eat out so it sometimes pays to have a Buy One, Get One coupon for a favorite restaurant that you’d head to anyway.
Or I get caught up in the new, cool items advertised and think, “Hey, we should try that.” Most recently I did this with an omelet maker. It seemed so neat. You crack a couple eggs in it, stick it in microwave, and tah-dah you have an omelet. And for 6 days we used and used and used it. BUT then it made it’s way to the back of the cupboard where it will probably go unused until garage sale season when we slap a $1 sticker on it.
Or sometimes you spend more with coupons because you buy way more items than you would normally. Buy 3 get the 4th one free. Sound familiar? You probably only needed the one.
Next time before you use a coupon, ask yourself, “Do we really, really need this ‘great deal’?”
3. Is there a more effective way to save money?
Clipping coupons takes time. And everyone’s time is worth something. Is there a better use of your time than saving and organizing coupons?
A lot of effort goes into couponing. There are blogs out there about “extreme couponing” that say, if you’re only saving 20% with your coupons you’re not doing it right. Their goal, 80-90%, and it sounds like a full-time job with an aerobic workout thrown in.
We personally know many, many people with Saver as their primary Money Personality who have zero interest in coupons because they don’t see the time-value equation working in their favor.
We feel that point systems are a more effective, less involved way to save money. Our family frequents the same gas station to get the fuel points and the related discounts. When we travel we use travel points for flying and hotel discounts. Saving multiple nights at a hotel feels like a value worth our efforts. Plus it’s a low time commitment to start with.
But we know, based on the stats, that we all use coupons at some point throughout the year. Sometimes it makes great sense and is totally worth it. Other times it pays to think twice about it.
If your spouse is a coupon clipper and it makes them happy, consider that before you trash their contribution to the budget. But if you find you’re acquiring too many “omelet makers” then discuss a new coupon strategy that might benefit the family budget better.
So we’d encourage you to think before you clip, and always remember your relationship is worth more than any sale or coupon.
For more tips follow The Money Couple on Instagram.
Make it happen!
Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple
Creators of the 5 Money Personalities