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Couponing: The good, the bad and the ugly

Most frugal folks use coupons but are they always saving you money? For one, I believe that coupons can be a great help if you know how and when to use them.

I use coupons but not many. I only keep ones I know I will use and for products I already purchase. Since I purchase a lot of health foods and fresh produce, I rarely use coupons. Most coupons are offered by large companies and generally it’s less expensive to buy the generic brand over the name brand, even with a coupon. (unless it’s free or on sale for a lot less).

Where I live, there are no days where you can double your coupons either. In the US I believe a lot of stores offer special days when you can double the value of your coupon but I’ve never been able to do this. If you are able to do this in your area, you are in luck!

I’ve read stories about people who have paid, say, $10 for a $200 grocery order. hmmm…what are they buying? Likely, mostly processed foods which I don’t like to buy. Full of sodium and likely not vegan either. Why use coupons if it’s for junky processed food?

A couple of years ago, a well known frugal woman went on TV with someone else who was a grocery coupon expert. The show challenged them to purchase the same types of items and see who came out spending less money:  One used coupons and one didn’t. The one who didn’t use the coupons actually spent less money for the same stuff. Why? She didn’t buy name brands for anything and purchased some items on sale.

At any given time, I have about 10 coupons in my wallet, mostly for things like soy milk and natural products. I don’t purchase the items until they go on sale. Recently, I bought a 1.89L carton of Almond Milk which was on sale for $3.49, and I had a 75 cent coupon for it.  I paid $2.74 for it instead of the regular price of $4.49.

5 Coupon Tips

*Always keep coupons in your wallet so you don’t forget them. If you collect a lot of them, you can get an organizer and place that in your purse, bag or car.

*Email companies directly and ask them to send you available coupons. I’ve done this before as I purchase health foods and a few companies have sent me some.

*Only use the coupon if the item is on sale unless the coupon is for a free item of course!

*If you have any friends or relatives who collect coupons, ask them to trade with you. They likely use ones you don’t and vice versa. A group I used to belong to online used send an envelope around with coupons. You’d take what you needed, add some coupons to the envelope and send it to the next person on the list. I never participated but love the idea. This was a nationwide effort.

*Sign up for newsletters of companies you like to purchase from. Periodically they will add coupons in their newsletters which can be printed out.

Quite frankly, unless you are buying a lot of name brand stuff, couponing might not be very helpful though it can save you a few dollars. It is much better to purchase things like dried beans, fresh produce and natural products. If you stick to the basics, you’ll still save money and not have to use many coupons.

A few Coupon Websites:

CANADA:
*Save.ca

*Gocoupons.ca

*Proctor & Gamble Coupons

*Grocery Savings

*The Healthy Shopper (Health food Coupons)

USA

*Cool Savings

*Coupon Mom

*SmartSource

*Coupons.com

*RedPlum.com

Do you use a lot of coupons? Any strategies for using them?

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3 Responses to Couponing: The good, the bad and the ugly

  1. I find coupons on line occasionally by going directly to the company. In US, we used to get double coupons, then they stopped giving coupons for anything $1 or over; now, you almost always have to buy 2 items to get $1 off. (At least in my area.) So, I rarely use them, and as you mentioned, they are for a lot of junk items loaded with preservatives and stuff I wouldn’t buy, anyway. And then I usually forget them at home!

  2. Once recently I went to buy a two-liter of caffeine-free Diet Coke and someone had tucked a coupon for a FREE ONE right in the rack next to the bottles. I think this is a wonderful, generous idea for coupons you don’t mean to use!

    Like Maggie, I don’t buy many processed foods and most coupons are for these. But some family somewhere probably wants that product, and leaving a coupon might help them afford it!

  3. I used to search for coupons, but found I would buy things I normally wouldn’t be tempted to buy, so I don’t do that anymore. I read my grocery store flyer every week and will plan menus around the well-priced fresh produce of the week. I also stock up on non-perishables when they are on sale. I buy mostly produce and bulk foods, cooking from scratch almost exclusively.

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