7 Reasons Why I DON’T Believe in Couponing…(and What I Do Instead!)

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

It's no secret that I am not a couponer. In fact, you could consider me captain of the Anti-Couponing Team. I was recently interviewed for CNBC on WHY I don't coupon (nor recommend couponing) at the grocery store. I realized I hadn't talked about it for a while on here, and thought I'd remind you why I DON'T coupon, and DON'T think you need to, either!

While I totally respect people who love it and find that it works for them. For me, however, I’ve tried couponing. I’ve attended the classes, read the blogs, and shadowed experts. I am here to say that while it may work for some, just as a lifelong crash diet of lettuce and raw flax might work for some, I prefer a sustainable life of hearty food and juicy steaks (…which we can buy it for a good price without having to surf the recycle bin first).

Grocery shopping is one of our biggest expenses each month, aside from our mortgage! So it's important to stick to a reasonable budget, and stretch that budget as far as you can. But today I'm proposing that there are easier ways to save money than clipping coupons, so I'm sharing the top 7 reasons why I DONT believe in couponing and my top 3 tips for saving money…the easy way!

Let's get on with it, shall we?!

7 Reasons Why I don't Believe in Couponing…(and What I Do Instead!)

First up…

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

TIME = MONEY, right?!

Couponing is not for the faint of heart; it takes time, dedication, and pretty much a dictionary of do's and don'ts to get through the grocery isles unscathed. You have to subscribe to the newspapers, clip, sort, and store the coupons, find the store’s deals that week, figure out what coupons can work with the deals, go shopping (often times having to visit multiple stores), and then, additionally, plan out and shop for the things your coupons don’t work for (but you still need). By the time all is said and done, you have likely dedicated part-time hours to organize your coupons… and at that point, a part-time job would be more profitable!

Full disclosure, yes, there are definitely easier ways to coupon now days. Between apps and digital coupons, the days of physically clipping coupons are surely dwindling…so thank goodness for that!

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Name brands aren't always better.

Coupons are almost always for name-brand items. Many people are under the misconception that name brand goods are more valuable or better quality, because they are almost always more expensive to begin with. Did you know, store-brand generic counterparts are often made in the same factory as the name-brand guys?? It's true!

For example, those Kirkland batteries from Costco that we love so much? Yep, they are made by Duracel. In most cases when you buy name-brand items you’re paying extra for commercials, advertising, and market testing expenses — not product quality. Stick with store-brand items and you’ll save more money in the long run (and you don't need coupons to do it).

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

I hope you like processed pantry-staples…

Truth: Most coupons are for pantry items. It’s next to..well…NEVER that you’ll find a coupon for fresh produce, dairy, or meat…which is typically the stuff that we go through the fastest…and costs us the most. So, while clipping coupons will save us some dollars, could it be that we are buying more of the things that aren't very good for us, as a result? Though I will say, who doesn’t like a good cheese puff every once in a while…

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

FACT – coupon-cutting leads to impulse buying.

The purpose of coupons is to get you to purchase a product that you most likely haven’t tried before. Translation = IMPULSE BUY. If you wouldn’t have put it on your shopping list to begin with, for Heaven's sake don’t waste your time clipping a coupon for it! Additionally, just because something is a good deal – whether you use it regularly or not – doesn’t mean you have to buy a three-year supply of it. I believe in stocking up when there is a great deal on something you go through quickly. But 44 boxes of tampons and 28 lemon cake mixes? Good deal or not, I’d bet money you just don’t need it.

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Crash diets CRASH for a reason.

I like to think of saving money through couponing like losing weight through crash dieting. Sure, it might work. It will PROBABLY work if done right. And heck, it might even work really well! But it's ultimately not realistic, sustainable (or fun!) to keep up long-term. Most people I know who commit themselves to couponing do well for a while, then lose interest or time, fall off the wagon, and resign themselves to a life of paying full-price for groceries. It's all about balance.

Pssst, spoiler alert: Keep reading for how to save money on groceries the easy way!

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Who wants to be “that person” at the store??

Since TLC's Extreme Couponing show came out, stores across the nation have tightened up on their coupon policies. It seems you need an encryption decoder, a magic wand, and a stiff drink to get away unscathed at the register any more! Save yourself the headache (and blacklist nominations) by leaving your four-inch thick coupon binder at home. There are ways to get just as many savings, without the stress and angst that can come from the checkout counter when couponing. Use my three tips below to save your wallet AND the people behind you in the checkout line!

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Like a bandaid for a broken femur.

Sure, a bandaid might help, but it certainly won't solve the problem. If your family is “in the red” budget-wise each month and going through financial distress, chances are no amount of clipped coupons are going to completely solve your problem. It's safe to say there is a deeper-rooted issue lurking somewhere.

If you need help deciphering the crack in your budgeting foundation, check out Budget Boot Camp — my budgeting program that walks you through setting budgets, paying off debt, and even finding the perfect grocery budget and methods for YOU. (Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off!)

In all seriousness, I applaud anyone who coupons for the sake of their family finances. But you guys, there is an easier way!! If you were to step back and analyze all financial aspects of your life (debt, impulse buys, eating out, conveniences, gifts, how you manage your money …) you could probably save even more by getting organized and setting reasonable budgets than you ever could by clipping coupons.

Here are 3 things you can do to save up to HALF on your current grocery bill with more balance, and less effort:

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Each week stores will put food on sale to get you into their store. Sometimes they are even willing to lose money on those items to get you in the store, which is what's called a “loss-leader”. Look at the front and back pages of your store's weekly ad for the best deals, circle what you need, and plan your meals around those items! The best part? The best deals are usually produce, dairy, and meat…the most expensive stuff that we use the most!

As many of you know, my grocery shopping methods are pretty simple. I used to save all my store ads and circle them, but now I pay $5/month and use Deals to Meals. I've been using the site and talking about it since 2009! Though it costs me $5/month, I save that in my first 30 seconds in the store, every time I shop. I can't begin to tell you how much it has saved me over all those years. They pull all the store ads for me, put everything that's on sale on a spread sheet, flag the best deals in red, and even plans an entire weekly menu around those good-deal items. IT'S INCREDIBLE.

Because I talk about them so often they approached me about doing a special subscription deal JUST for Freebs. It's a price they've never offered to anyone else, so JUMP on this deal!

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

To take advantage of this offer, click this LINK and fill in the info they need. Once you have it completed, click the “One More Page” button, and then close the page (do not click on or follow the PayPal links since this is an EXCLUSIVE promo just for us, and you can't find it on their regular page.) Once you have created an account, you can pay for the subscription via PayPal. Just click this LINK, and enter the amount you are paying (based on the subscription you have chosen). Easy peasy!

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Boy, do I Looooooooove my freezer. Like, love love love love love (as you see in most of my food posts).

The concept is simple…if it's on sale (and you'll actually eat it), buy extra and freeze it! Cheese, veggies, fruit, sour cream, any and all meats, bread…you name it. If you can't use it up before it goes bad, freeze it for another day. (Tip: If it doesn't taste as good once thawed, add it to a dish like soup or casserole and you'll never know the difference!)

The BEST, EASIEST, and SMARTEST way to save money on groceries! Deals to Meals saves my budget! Read all about it - www.FunCheapOrFree.com

Only shop one time per week, no matter what.

You're probably sick of hearing me say it, but it's true! Every time you step into a store for “one loaf of bread,” you'll come out with $50 in stuff you suddenly need to have. Shop once, no matter what. It forces you to plan ahead, shop with a list, and think through your meals before going. Run out of milk? Borrow from a neighbor, or make toast instead of cereal the next morning. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Pretend you're on a spending freeze and get creative, and you'll save so much money not running to the store every time you need something!

________

So there you go!

That's why I don't believe in couponing and don't recommend it. There are simpler, more practical ways to save MORE money (and time!) in the long-run.

Again, don't forget to take advantage of the exclusive Deals To Meals offer! To get this offer, click this LINK and fill in the info they need. Once you have it completed, click the “One More Page” button, and then close the page (do not click on or follow the PayPal links since this is an EXCLUSIVE promo just for us, and you can't find it on their regular page.) Once you have created an account, you can pay for the subscription via PayPal. Just click this LINK, and enter the amount you are paying (based on the subscription you have chosen). Easy peasy!

Do you agree? Not agree? What are your thoughts on couponing??  Share your story in the comments below!

Happy saving 🙂

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Comments

  1. I have a question and maybe you have covered it on one of your q and As and I missed it. so if so just tell me where to go and that will be that. I am a military wife and we have the convenience of shopping at the Commissary fancy word for grocery store if you don’t know. I have a family of 4 with 1 dog do I have budgeted 100 a month for each family member and 50 a month for the dog (because he is a member but not a full $100 member haha) I know that you say that it is better to shop every week, but I find that for my family it works better if I go once a month to the commissary for the main shopping and then once a week go to someplace like Wal-Mart to get the things we run out of. (mainly because I found my self putting needless stuff in the card every week because I wanted it not needed it). So far I have been able to cut things down and only really spend about $360 of the $450 I have allotted, but I still feel like I could maybe do better. do you think that by changing it up and go every week ( just be more discipline) or am I just crazy and the real fact is that I am doing everything I need to . thank you in advance.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      I too am military, and shop the commissary. Where we are located I am limited in grocery stores to the commissary, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Aldi. I too have been working on bringing down our grocery budget, it’s challenging changing the way you do things and cooking differently, while still being healthy to try and bring the budget down.
      I read your comment, and instantly thought of one of Jordan’s posts about her price notebook. http://funcheaporfree.com/2012/05/look-inside-my-price-notebook-always/
      This is one of the things that I am working to start doing, really watching my prices and figuring out where I should be buying things rather than just assuming I am getting the best deal at the commissary. (As you know, not always the case)

  2. I don’t have a neighborhood Walmart (just a superstore) so it’s harder to price match. BUT I have Aldi’s. Their prices are amazing! And they have the essentials I need. I’ve also adopted Jordan’s idea of keeping a PRICE BOOK so I know when to stock up on things. I still coupon but only on things I would find at my pharmacy (shampoo, dish soap, toilet paper, make up). Because there are only a few things I coupon I don’t feel like it’s a time suck. I feel like I’ve found what works for my family for now, but I’m still really curious about Deals to Meal, I might just check it out!

  3. I gave up couponing, too! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Occasionally I’ll load a few coupons to my Smiths card but only if the item is already on my list. Something else I like to do are grocery rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51. They usually have rebates for produce, dairy, etc. It only takes like 5 minutes and adds up fairly quickly!

  4. Though I love the tips that are shared I still love couponing. I use most coupons for household cleaners, paper supplies, and personal items. I love buying organic foods. There are more and more coupons that are coming out for fresh produce, meats, dairy, and other organic products. Cutting costs on household items helps make up for the extra I spend to buy organic.

  5. Another way to save is to use walmarts saving catcher on their app ( if you shop at Walmart) it does the price match for you and gives you a Walmart e-card with the money you saved. I have been told it doesn’t catch everything but for someone like me who doesn’t pice match in the first place it’s great!!!

  6. Does deals to meals work well for organic shopping as well? I want to try it, but we almost always use organic produce and meat.

  7. I love this post! I write a finance blog for students and I’ve contemplated telling students that coupons are a complete waste of their time! In college, you have no money, little time and lots of priorities, plus you’re usually just feeding yourself so buying large quantities of hamburger helper is not necessary. I wasted too much time and energy trying to coupon and it didn’t work! Thanks for this post.

  8. I went down the coupon road once before, but I ended up hating it for exactly the reasons you listed. I also found myself developing deep animosity towards people who cleared shelves before I got to the store. When you plan a trip, cut coupons, load up a bunch of little kids, only to find the deals gone before you arrive; it makes for a very hard day. And I can’t afford any extra hard days in my little world. We eat much healthier now for even less using many of the tips you listed. Instead of couponing, I spend some of that time in my garden. We are able to eat what we grow and trade the rest with the neighbors for things they grow. It’s a win win!

  9. You nailed it. This is why I can’t coupon! The things we NEED never have coupons. (Except Cheerios. Sometimes those have coupons. 😊) The sales are where it’s at. They even beat Costco sometimes. Thank you so much for your real numbers and honesty. It’s so motivating to me. 👊 –Kate, housemixblog.com

  10. I find that the thing that saves me the most money is price matching. That way I get everybody’s best sales and only have to go to one store. Some stores will even price match on generic store brand items such as butter and eggs. I am interested in Deals to Meals. Do you know of anything like it in Canada?

  11. Random Question, how do you use frozen sour cream? I think I have some in my freezer that is ancient now because I never knew how to use it. Not sure why I froze it if I didn’t have a plan, haha.

    • Haha good question! you wouldn’t use it plain, like on top of a taco or anything, but it’s great for baking. I have a crockpot chicken that uses sour cream, for example, or even, an enchilada or casserole recipe that uses sour cream. The consistency changes so don’t dollop it on top of anything, just hide it inside, and you’re fine!

  12. I understand your point of view with couponing but I do a combination of couponing and the 3 tips you mentioned for the longest time and it does save me money. For me couponing isn’t bad at all if done the proper way and as long as you don’t buy things you don’t need, it is a good way to save. I am also a military wife and the commissary with coupons they provide was really great for time and money. But I no longer live near there for that reason

  13. I understand your point of view with couponing but I do a combination of couponing and the 3 tips you mentioned for the longest time and it does save me money. For me couponing isn’t bad at all if done the proper way and as long as you don’t buy things you don’t need, it is a good way to save. I am also a military wife and the commissary with coupons they provide was really great for time and money. But I no longer live near there so I rely on coupons, cash back rebates and looking for the best deals on products I need.

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