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!)
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!
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).
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…
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.
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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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!)
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 🙂