Too many people watch these women on TV and get to thinking that if they use coupons they can seriously decrease their monthly grocery bills with the use of a few coupons. Yes and no. Unless you're an extreme couponer and have a serious need for 52 tubes of toothpaste, you really shouldn't expect to save more than a few bucks each shopping trip.
Here's the thing...I save between $3 and $5 each shopping trip with coupons. (If I ever have a week where I save $7-$10 I feel like I've won the lottery. It's the small things people.) I shop once per week, so that adds up to about $208 per year. Give or take a little obviously. I know you're thinking that $200 isn't that much money but would you turn your nose up if someone handed you a check for $200? Didn't think so.
What you do have to be careful of with coupons is spending money on things you don't need. That's where a lot of people get into trouble. They end up spending more than they originally intended because they "had a coupon." Thus negating the point of couponing in the first place. Don't buy 6 packs of yogurt because you have a coupon if you don't like yogurt. No matter how much you swear you'll eat it because it was on sale, you won't.
So here are my rules of engagement when it comes to couponing:
- DON'T spend a ridiculous amount of time cutting coupons. If you spend hours each week pouring over coupons, you're probably not even covering the cost of your time.
- DO use free coupon websites like coupons.com and redplum.com. A lot of store websites now even have special coupons on their website.
- DO NOT buy things you don't need with coupons. My policy is that if I wasn't going to buy it anyway, I don't need to buy it with a coupon.
- Don't expect couponing to seriously impact your monthly budget. If I save $20/month with coupons I am thrilled.
- DO pair coupons with weekly store specials! (I am terrible at doing this, I don't have enough patience.)
There you have it. My $0.02 on how to actually save a few $$ with coupons. :)