Giving Up Coupons

About 18 months ago I started couponing.  I jumped in with both feet and started seeing immediate results.  Our grocery bill dropped by $200-250 a month.  It was great!  I followed the advice I found in magazines, tv shows and on Living Well, Spending Less.  I got a Qubie to hold my coupons (envelopes never worked for me) and I proved Mr. O wrong by using it every single week.

I got a rush from checking the bottom of my receipt to see how much I’d saved.  32%, 40%, up to 52%!

I started ordering the newspaper and had my in-laws give me whatever coupons they didn’t use, too.

But there were problems, too.  Couponing is not easy.  It can be very time consuming.  I found myself spending Saturday nights clipping coupons and planning my shopping trip instead of relaxing or enjoying time with my family.  On top of that shopping trips took longer because I was checking and double checking coupons, receipts, etc.

I also noticed junk food piling up.  There aren’t many coupons for apples, but there are tons for chips, crackers, sugary yogurt, cookies, and processed food.  Sure, I was getting a great deal, but my family was eating crap.  I started paying attention to what I was buying and toned it down, but there was a definite dent in my total savings.

Finally I started to look at my receipts.  Yes, I’d saved 40% on a $120 shopping trip, but only $4 was from coupons, even doubled coupons!  Once I factored in the cost of the weekly paper I was left with a coupon savings of $.85.  That was kind of a slap in the face, honestly.  All that time and work for less than a dollar?  Ouch.

Where did the other $44 in savings come from?  Shopping the sales and stocking up!  Using the techniques I learned while becoming a couponer, I try to only buy things while they’re on sale, and then I buy a lot.  This change of habit has saved us more than anything else and even allows me to skip a week of shopping if life gets busy.

Last week I cancelled our paper delivery.  (At least I tried to… If you heard a random pay phone ringing outside the bus station, I’m pretty sure that’s the paper’s “Cancellation Office.”)  I’ll still flip through my in-laws coupons when I get them, but I’m not going to spend more than 15 minutes a week on them.

The thing is, not every tool is right for every person.  I know people who’ve had great success with coupons, but they weren’t the right tool for me.

Have you tried couponing?  I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

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