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31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Everyone Should Use Coupons

Missed the first posts in this series? Read them here.

I’m going to make a bold statement: I believe everyone should use coupons.

There. I said it.

Wait. I take my statement back. If you are one of the .0002 people in America who have never touched food unless it was grown in your own yard, you make toothpaste out of tree bark and use cloth toilet paper, then I’ll exempt you.

But the rest of you? You’re non-exempt.

And I know some of you are making excuses right now and explaining why you’re the exception to my rule. Well, give me a chance to address your excuses and see if I can’t change your mind just a tiny little bit.

Excuse #1: I Don’t Eat Processed Food

Newsflash: Coupons are not just for junk food.

In fact, there are often coupons available for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, flour, baking soda, toothbrushes, razors, toilet paper, and light bulbs.

Like I said earlier, unless you literally grow all your own food, make all your household products from scratch, and you use cloth instead of disposable for all paper products, there are likely at least 10-15 items you routinely buy which you could get for much less if you used coupons.

In addition, once you become adept at using coupons, you will usually regularly happen upon deals which give you overage. Even if your family doesn’t use the item which gives overage, you could buy it to donate and then use the overage to purchase items your family does use.

Excuse #2: I Tried Using Coupons and Didn’t Save Any Money

If you buy your Sunday paper, clip all the coupons and then use them all on your next shopping trip, you’re not going to save any money. Instead, you’d probably end up buying  a lot of over-priced items you won’t use or wouldn’t normally buy and end up spending a considerable amount more than you save.

That’s not how to use coupons.

Using coupons wisely requires strategy and patience. In most cases, it involves waiting until an item is at its rock-bottom price and then pairing it with a coupon (and perhaps even a catalina deal!) so that you get it for pennies on the dollar–or even more than free!

Excuse #3: I Don’t Have Time to Use Coupons

Life is busy and there are constantly a hundred demands pulling us in different directions. The thought of adding in something extra like clipping coupons might be overwhelming–but it doesn’t have to be.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

One of my favorite ways to evaluate whether a money-saving idea or technique is worth my time is to evaluate it in terms of an hourly wage. For instance, if it saves our family $30-$50 and requires an hour’s worth of work, it is totally worth my time.

Coupons are worth my time because when I put in an hour’s worth of time, I’m usually saving $40-$75 for doing so. That sounds like a pretty good hourly wage to me!

Yes, it takes a bit of time to learn the ropes. Don’t expect that you’ll go out tomorrow and save 90% off your grocery bill if you’ve never used a coupon in your life.

However, it doesn’t have to take hours of your week. In fact, I think that you can see significant savings by committing to spend an extra hour each week to checking the sales fliers, making a menu plan and grocery list, clipping coupons, and mapping out your shopping route.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing tips and techniques for obtaining, organizing and using coupons effectively to make the most of your time and maximize your savings. Slowly implement the ideas I share, find out what works best for you and reap the rewards of money saved!

Do you think everyone should use coupons in some way, shape or form? Why or why not?

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  • Spendwisemom says:

    I think that people should choose to do what is best for them in their situation. Most of us have learned the value of coupons which in many cases provides the opportunity to stay at home with kids. On the other hand, there is no right or wrong way to do things. We live with the consequences of our decisions, so it works out well for everyone. People who coupon and donate are as good as people who work and donate. Everyone has different budgets to work within and different talents, etc. It is good to share ideas and respect each other for the decisions we make. I do use coupons and am careful about buying what is on sale in the weekly fliers, because it allows me to be a homemaker instead of work outside of the home. That is a value to me. Every dollar we save can be used somewhere else we want rather than what we need. It takes some time, but I would rather spend the time than work outside the home. I think it is important to find a good balance between time and money and be happy about your decisions regardless of what others think. Some save money cooking from scratch, some sew, some coupon. We don’t have to be wonder woman and do everything. Pick what is good for you and do what is best for you and your family.

  • Heather says:

    If you’re quite wealthy, and don’t like couponing, then don’t. Save the deals for the rest of us.

    I know some people might use coupons to get free/cheap junk food, and plan to donate it. Please don’t! If it’s too unhealthy to eat it yourself, then don’t tempt someone else!

  • ksenia says:

    Eh… I do not think everyone needs to use coupons. People who are really well off and can use their time wisely do not need to put in the effort and time to shave off $30 a month.

    I use cloth diapers/napkins/towels and home made cleaning supplies like baking soda and vinegar (rarely bleach). We get most of our fresh food from local farmers. MOST things that have coupons available (cereal, granola bars, even detergents) are filled with chemicals and junk. Yes you can find coupons for healthy basics but they are very rare and I am getting much less enthusiastic about coupons because in the last 5 months that I have been using them I have noticed that my family has been eating much more junk (though my definition of junk is probably not like other people’s).

  • Rachel says:

    I would like to make the point that not “everyone” can use coupons. You do need some people paying the regular price for items so that those who “need” to use coupons can. It would be like saying everyone should buy a used vehicle. Obviously, this would be impossible because someone has to buy the vehicle new before another can buy it used.

    I think using coupons can be very helpful (especially for a family on a very tight budget). Moderation is the key. I have noticed that my local stores are really cracking down on excessive couponing. It is not good business for them just to have a few individuals deplete the store’s entire stock of “coupon items”, leaving nothing for other customers to buy. If this happens enough, the store knows they will lose customers, possibly to a store that has stricter coupon policies.

    To everything there is a season and I feel the more people that “abuse” couponing, the less deals we will find available.

  • Absolutely, everyone should use coupons. My parents, who used to feel that coupons were too complicated, recently joined in on the coupon craze. They love saving money at the store. I appreciate Crystal writing the bold statement “I don’t eat processed food” and Newsflash: Coupons are not just for junk food. I can’t even tell you how many friends and family members make that statement to me. Several of my family members eat entirely organic and they always say to me that using coupons is so unhealthy for my family. We eat healthy all of the time from homemade food, farmer’s markets, my own garden, etc. I am glad that Crystal is trying to change this silly myth about coupons. Go Money Saving Mom!

  • dawnmf says:

    I don’t get the Sunday paper anymore since it got too expensive but I did discover that the local Starbucks has the inserts with the Sunday papers that people leave behind and I scoop them up from there.
    I have also gotten good coupons off Amy’s hormone free beef and steaks by signing up at her website, earthfarms for free salad and kashi cereal by signing up at their web site. All these coupons are also accepted at Trader Joes including the cents off milk coupons.

    Personally I have found Stater bros is less expensive than safeway/vons and according to the Ralph’s butcher aka Kroger down here the meat @ (Stater bros) is same quality as theirs but at less of a price.

    Thanks for the great series. I’d love one on how to reduce summer costs for school age kids as well.

  • Jennie says:

    I look at the prices on certain items–like shampoo and razors–and just can’t believe that I used to PAY that. With real money! I use coupons for almost every household good and for lots of different types of food. I think it is totally worth it. Even if sometimes I don’t feel like clipping and organizing, I know I’ll be glad I did when I come out of Rite Aid having paid $2.50 for $55 worth of merchandise or when the checker at Kroger gets excited that I saved over 50%.
    I only wish I had figured out all the secrets earlier–meaning started reading Money Saving Mom on the very first day Crystal debuted the site. I regret the days I paid full price or used a few coupons and thought I was saving. I tell everyone about this website.

  • Kansas Mom says:

    We use coupons sparingly. My husband does the grocery shopping (since he works in town near a store and I’m home 30 minutes away with three kids), but I put together the list and the coupons. I use and match up coupons with advertised sales on items I know we’ll use. I save the inserts from our paper, but we don’t get the good ones so I rarely have to clip anything out. Mainly I use online coupons (which our grocery store accepts) and we buy the store brand a lot.

    We still manage to save about 20-30% on our groceries every week by using coupons and shopping the sales, so it’s definitely worth the hour I spend putting together our list (only some of which is devoted exclusively to coupons as we’d make a list anyway).

  • Julie says:

    I think couponing is like so many other beneficial ideas. With some people, you can tell them and show them over and over again, and they still refuse to give it a real try. Finally, something clicks and they “get it.”
    Real couponing does take some time to get started, and once you have a system that works for you it takes some effort and some discipline, but it is so worth the effort.

  • Charity says:

    I think everyone should try to use coupons. Yes, it depends on your situation how much you can save, but I have a hard time believing that you couldn’t save anything by using them. I try to encourage other family members to try, but they are like lighting wet firewood…Ain’t gonna happen!! 😉

  • Amber says:

    It really depends on your situation and what you view as important and what you view as healthy vs junk. We are college students on one income. We eat organic produce and I am allergic to dairy and wheat, so the husband does not eat dairy or wheat either. What a guy! I make my own laundry soap and we refill our shampoo, conditioner, body wash, dish soap and dishwasher soap at the natural foods store. Sure, I could get these items for near free but I choose not to use up more resources by purchasing items that come in plastic containers. Yes, I recycle, but I feel that it is better to reduce/reuse first. Buying our shampoo, soap, etc this way allows us to reuse the same bottle over and over. Some things are more important to me than saving a few dollars. Some people may not have that option. I could get cheap or free food (campbells “cooking” soups come to mind) but they contain partially hydrogenated oils which we do not eat. In addition, many canned items contain wheat as a filler and therefore I could not eat them anyhow. I’d rather buy beans and rice in bulk and base my meals around them, rather than purchasing canned beans, boxed rice, etc. It might cost a little bit more, but it’s worth it to me. Now if I could get coupons for brown rice flour, tahini, or bulk beans and rice I would be very happy! I do use the rare coupons that come from earthbound organics and almond milk coupons, and have become a toilet paper snob ever since I used coupons to get Cottonelle for cheap!

  • While I agree that using coupons can be a great money-saving strategy, I don’t believe they are great for everyone. For example, I think about Amy Dacyczyn in The Tightwad Gazette. She bought most things in bulk, grew produce, used cloth diapers, etc. so she didn’t use coupons. Yet her grocery bill was very low. While not everyone is not that extreme, more and more people don’t buy processed food, regular brand household products, and only buy fruit and veggies from farmers markets. That lessens the effectiveness of coupons.

    I do use coupons but only for a few items that we would normally buy anyway. For example, we only use Toms of Maine toothpaste – no artifical sweeteners like regular toothpaste and their deoderant – no aluminum. Coupons for Toms products are rare so instead I try to buy a lot when they go on sale. I buy organic sugar and bulk flour that is usually cheaper than those in stores with coupons. Once in a great while I can get a better deal in the grocery store with coupons. I also shop at Trader Joe’s a lot which doesn’t have that many products that have coupons. I cloth diaper so no coupons for those.

    I am not an extreme organic or “no processed food” type of person so I do use coupons for things I am flexible about, like Cheerios and toilet paper. Or I use them to buy things I wouldn’t normally buy if its really cheap on sale and with a coupon for special treats for the kids.

    I can see where it wouldn’t make sense for people who live in large cities or very rural areas with only mom and pop grocery stores. Many of those don’t take coupons. It wouldn’t make sense for someone who can make more money billing a client for work they are doing than spend time searching out and clipping coupons. It wouldn’t make sense for someone who eats a raw diet or very unprocessed diet and uses mostly homemade household items.

    I do think coupons are a great tool, but I don’t think they are for everyone.

  • Jessica says:

    I certainly use coupons, but my savings are nowhere near what you get because none of our stores double. Which is where I see the biggest savings, when combined with sales.

  • Christy says:

    Yesterday, I took my first trip to the grocery store after clipping some coupons and printing some online coupons. Before, I would clip a couple from the newspaper every now and then, and when I went to use them, I found that the generic brand was always cheaper. But at the time, I wasn’t aware that stores doubled coupons, nor did I pay attention to the ads….so I never could figure out what the fuss was about with coupons, and I gave up.

    Until this week, I’ve never put this much thought and planning into a trip to the grocery store, but now that I’ve saved 61% from coupons and my Kroger card….oh yes, I am definitely on the coupon bandwagon!

  • Nancy says:

    I was a “non-believer” and really thought generics at Wal-Mart were the way to go. I have to laugh now at how much I didn’t know then. I didn’t get the stock pile concept. Sure a name brand AT FULL PRICE minus coupon often isn’t cheaper than regular price generic. But now that I know only to buy rock bottom sale price (loss leader plus coupon and maybe catalina as well) the savings are HUGE.

    The best part is that the savings continue to escalate, because as you get a stockpile you can be EVEN PICKIER. I used to buy toothpaste when it was free, now I wait to make money on it.

    Between menu planning and coupon use we went from a $250/week grocery and household budget to $35/week for both. $215 a week saved. That $11,000 is going toward a European cruise for our family this year. And we don’t eat as well as we used to…we eat better! Plus now we can give to area shelters and also bless others. Sure it takes work, but what other job could I do for an hour a week and get a 10 day vacation out of the deal?

    • Spendwisemom says:

      @Nancy, How many people are in your family and what ages? Do you live in a big city and have access to a lot of coupons?

      • Nancy says:

        @Spendwisemom, No we live in a rural/suburban town with a walmart and a publix and that’s it. No double coupons. Our Sunday paper is wimpy and often doesn’t have the “high dollar” coupons that other people talk about. I have a spouse and 2 daughters, one teenage one pre-teen. Also we home-school so we eat all 3 meals here, no school lunches.

        That just means you have to get more creative when the coupons don’t come easy.

    • Carrie says:

      @Nancy, Our stockpile on shampoo, lotion and body washes is such that I’ve also started contemplating only purchasing when I can make money off them. I can’t decide between that and going ahead and getting these items for free (except sales tax, of course) and then donating the items.

  • Stacy C says:

    We love our coupon use and so does our food pantry!
    I do live in an area where one local chain does double coupons up to .99 cents.
    I take advantage and check a few blogs that post about stores in my area but also read the cicrular and match up my coupons before each weekly visit. I also scan the other local stores papers to see what they have on special and the best that I can make my dollars and budget stretch.
    Occasionally the local chain that doubles runs teriffic catalina deals that include frozen veggies. My kids love the cereal and I can even save on meats, dairy and household cleaning supplies.
    I do write to vendors and compliment their products and in return have been rewarded with coupons in postal mail.
    I stock up when items are on sale and apply my best coupon. I apply this to everything in the circulars. Also keep your eye out for mail in rebates, if you actually mail them in you will get your money back. Coupons are not for the lazy, they do require extra work and planning but in 2010 so far i have saved $1600 in savings for my son’s college education just by using coupons and mail in rebates!

    Does $1600 sound good to you? Then use coupons!

  • Sheri says:

    Well, I recently started using coupons. I think it started with going to rite aid, and getting a killer deal on dipes. I’ve used all of the excuses above, and in some ways they are valid. I don’t buy much of the stuff that coupons are for, but of course, there are the other items that we do buy, and coupons are great.

    I’d LOVE to know more about coupons for produce and meat. Where on earth do we find these? Looking forward to learn how you ladies rock the coupons – I’m a newbie!!

  • Pamela says:

    I started trying to use coupons in January of this year and was somewhat discouraged as I didn’t see a huge savings at first. Even now, most of my savings is coming from simply being more proactive about planning meals and shopping sales. That said, I have been able to improve the quality of many of the products we use. No more generic toothpaste, no more generic feminine products, etc. My husband is thrilled that our quality of life is improving even though the coupon savings may be minimal and he’s convinced that we’re saving a lot more than I think we are (but I guess that’s because I hate spending money and our expenses in some areas have increased overall due to factors like having additional people in our house). With four adults and one baby, we’re on about the same grocery/household items budget we had for just the two of us when we first got married (2007)…and mostly with a lot better stuff. So somehow I guess we’re coming out ahead.

    • Carrie says:

      @Pamela, You’ll probaby start really seeing a savings when you have a good stockpile going. It took me awhile to go from about 30% weekly savings to about 50% (between our store not doubling and some of our weekly purchases that my family is picky about, I don’t think I can get much higher than that), but stockpiling is helping. For example, I was able to purchase 10 bottles of syrup (used daily in our house) when they were at their bottom price matched with a high value coupon and now I can just sit back and wait for that same kind of deal again.

      • Pamela says:

        @Carrie, Yeah, I’m sure stockpiling will help…I’m terrible at it as I have a tendency to try to buy only as much as I need for a month, but getting more in that mode has definitely freed me (mentally) to invest more in excellent deals.

  • Catherine R. says:

    Haven’t read all the comment but…

    I go back and forth about whether or not coupons are worth it. I will say I think you are onto something about there being a *technique* to using them and not just ending up paying more for a product you wouldn’t buy anyway just because you have a coupon when you’d normally buy the generic equivalent.

    I am interested to see what you have to say about the hows and how-to’s of couponing because it *is* a skill and I don’t know what to do to get those skills.

    One thing that is frustrating for some of us is living in an area of the country where the cost-of-living is way above average (never gonna find that 25 cent mac and cheese here, no way) and also have a complete lack of stores that will do double coupons AND live 30 miles from the nearest Walmart (I pass about 8 Target’s on the way to Walmart).

    Everyone’s in a different place but I am open to learning how to be a savvy couponer, even though it feels pointless sometimes the way I’m doing it.

    • Carrie says:

      @Catherine R., We have a Wal-Mart but no Target. I wish we did have a Target because 1. I frequently see good deals that Target is offering but I can’t get and 2. if we had one then my local Publix would probably consider them a competitor and I could use their coupons at Publix.

  • Rochelle says:

    I agree! I have figured out how to consistently save 70% or more on my grocery purchases. Often times I have done 90% or more. I used to spend 400-500 a month (yikes!!!!). Now I only spend 200 or less. I eat healthy. I buy great meat in bulk when it goes on sale. I don’t even buy all the sugary cereal…I eat hard boiled eggs, healthy english muffin with peanut butter etc. Fresh great produce at Aldi’s each week.
    I love CVS and Walgreens when I can catch beauty/household items for free or cheap. I get embarrassed to even think I used to spend that much on groceries.

  • As a writer who lives in a feast or famine financial reality, reading this blog and using what I’ve learned has helped me tremendously. I’ve walked out of a grocery store with $30 worth of products for which I paid $9. So, yeah, coupons are so worth the little time it takes to find and clip them.

    I have two doggies I adore. Dog treats are some of the most expensive items I buy, but luckily they also have some of the most abundant coupons. I had a buy-one-get-one Kroger coupon for Pupperoni treats, which also happened to be on sale this week. I also printed a $1 off coupon from the Pupperoni website. In addition, because Pupperoni is a Delmonte product, I got a $1 catalina. By the time I was done, I paid .49 cents for two packages of Pupperoni treats that would normally cost me almost $7! Woot!

  • Candi says:

    I totally agree with you Crystal. Everyone can use coupons. I have a guest post on my blog today from a friend who lives by a “whole foods” diet and she wrote about being a “former coupon snob”…

  • Eric says:

    I work with a guy who states that he has never used a coupon in his entire life. That’s crazy to me!
    I was at the grocery store one time and watched a lady grab two boxes of cereal. There was a blinkie coupon thing there for a dollar off two boxes. I told her to grab one to save a dollar and she just told me she doesn’t do coupons. I should have asked her for a dollar.

  • Katie says:

    I started couponing in November, and I love seeing my savings. If I’ve saved a bunch, I post it as my status on Facebook. 🙂 I have a question though. Any opinions on how I can get the best deals when I can’t go shopping until evening or weekends? I run a daycare from my home, so I can’t take and will not take 6 kids shopping with me. By the time I get there, I find that the stores have run out of the best deals that week by the time I get there. When I went to Kmart Monday night, they were out of almost everything I had a coupon for. I get frustrated with couponing when others buy 12 of something, and the shelf is empty.

    • Pamela says:

      @Katie, For stuff that’s really important to me, I tend to go to the store Sunday after church, as it’s conveniently located near my parents’ house (where we usually are on Sunday afternoons) and I can take my 15 y.o. brother, who helps my mom get stocked up on the good deals.

    • Carrie says:

      @Katie, Get rainchecks if your store gives them. Sometimes getting rainchecks is better than if the store was still stocked with the product. For example, when my store had powdered sugur donuts (for those of you who only eat healthy, don’t pay attention) BOGO free and were out, I got a raincheck. Now I’m holding that raincheck until the donuts go on a regular sale and then I’ll use the raincheck. In other words, instead of getting them BOGO when the regular price is $2, I’ll get them BOGO (with raincheck) when they go on sale for $1. Definitely get rainchecks if you store does them.

  • Ruth says:

    I’m doing my best with coupons and sales, and desperately trying to help my sister with her grocery shopping as well. She lives in Virginia, in a podunk town where they do not get coupons in the Sunday paper (and I called around over there and confirmed that)…so sad! The only way she could do it is to order the Washington Post to her door, which would be very expensive. For the time being, I’m snail-mailing her some of my coupons (which means I sacrifice those deals for myself, which is fine, as I adore my sister more than life itself) according to her CVS deals, but obviously as I’m in WA state, I don’t get the same coupons as that area of the country. It’s a frustrating situation. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I’m open!! We WANT to use coupons but…how? I didnt’ see “No coupons in our paper” as an excuse…hoping for some good ideas….Thanks!

    • Carrie says:

      @Ruth, Even though I’ve never done this, I’ve read where many people order their coupons online. I know that “the coupon clippers (dot) com” is a coupon clipping service where you can order the coupons you want. I’ve also read that you receive your coupons in a timely manner. I’m sure there must be others out there as well. Another option for your sister would be the internet coupons (if her store accept them). Each week at least half of my coupons that I use come from the internet.

  • Heidi says:

    Yes! I believe everyone should use coupons. I used excuse #1 and 2 for years until just a few months ago a friend shared the real secrets of couponing with me. I think that is the key – having someone you can follow that will show you the ropes and someone you can go to if you get stuck. You internet helpers are great too!

  • Jana says:

    If I lived in the US, I would agree with you about coupons. However, I live in Canada, and here (at least in Western Canada), there really are not coupons for things like milk and the others you mentioned in your post. The coupon system in Canada is very different for some reason I am unaware of. There is no such thing as double coupon days. No such thing as being able to use a coupon on a sale item. If the store is having a sale on an item, that’s as low as you’re going to get that item. Period. In fact, almost every single time, if there is a sale item, there is a limit as to how much of that item you can buy at the sale price. Sometimes it’s worth it to go into the store several times to get the maximum at the sale price. So, I don’t disagree with you. I just don’t think it’s really do-able where I live. (That said, VERY RARELY – as in, maybe a couple of time a year – we get junk mail that has brand name coupons for things like soap or toothpaste. I DO clip and save these, but those are the only coupons I’ve found or used for the last several years.)

    • Tara says:

      Yes! I totally agree with this. Coupon clipping in America is the smartest thing you can do. But here in Canada we don’t get things for free very often. Those crazy coupon ladies you see on the realty show with the stockpiles of free stuff is just impossible in Canada. Which is a shame since we have to pay more money than the States on everything anyway. You’d think companies would give us a break and give us better value coupons!

  • Courtney says:

    I agree that just about everyone can benefit from using coupons, as long as they are willing to do the work.

    Just clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper and going to the store without doing any prior research probably won’t lead to great savings.

    You have to take the time to compare prices, follow the sales, find coupons on the internet and sign up with places like Vocalpoint, Kraft First Taste, Tropicana Juicy Rewards, etc. That’s when the benefits of couponing are enormous! The work is very much worth it, in my opinion 🙂

  • Gretchen says:

    I do agree that if you are on a very tight budget coupons do help. But I am trying to get away from shopping at traditional grocery stores. I do buy in bulk and do garden and can and buy my meat locally and am also trying to buy my milk and eggs from a local farm. But I probably won’t be making my own toilet paper anytime soon so I will concede that you could use coupons for toilet paper. I will agree there are coupons for some organic items as well. I am not completely anti-coupon, but I don’t care if I ever see them again either. I do appreciate the post though because there are people out there who don’t have access to local resources and also have a very tight budget.

  • Kelly says:

    Now that I have been at this for awhile, I have built a stockpile, meal-planned and began freezer cooking, I have been saving 50-60% per month. This means instead of paying $500 per month, I am paying less than $250. It is so freeing to not have to worry about this aspect of our budget. I try to convince everyone I know to use coupons. I work full-time, have a family and am very active. It really doesn’t take much time and saves so much money!
    I must say, I am extremely lucky. I live in a very small town but work in a larger town about 25 minutes away. Every main store (Meijer, Kroger, target, marsh, cvs and walgreens, is on my way home. So shopping at multiple stores is so convenient. I have really saved a bundle.
    Thanks so much, Crystal, for all you do and the information provide for us.

  • Denise says:

    I don’t think everyone should use coupons–only those who want to save money. Oh wait, isn’t that everyone??!!

  • Sam says:

    Didn’t know you could make toothpaste from tree bark. Loved the article. Keepin’ it real, Money Saving Mom! Love your site. Don’t you worry one iota bit about someone taking offense; keep the ideas coming. Woot woot!

  • Yes! There are coupons available for virtually everything. Like you said, most people could at least use coupons for household and hygiene products. Do you eat only organic? There are coupons for that too!

    Even saving a small percentage is better than not saving anything.

  • I recently blogged on this exact topic! Printing online coupons is like printing your own money! Who can’t find a little time for that?!

  • Princess says:

    I am on my sixth month of couponing…a friend and I thought we would give it a try, and we both can’t believe we ever shopped without using coupons! I never shop Walmart anymore, except in a blue moon….its so expensive to me now! My cuboards are always full, and with name brand items, unlike before I started couponing. I live in a area where I have five to six different grocery store options, so that really helps with getting the lowest deal with coupons…I understand those who don’t have that option and get frustrated trying to get the best deal…Honestly if everyone used coupons, and used them at rock bottom prices, no stores would except coupons anymore…but until that happens I’m not keeping my love of coupons a secret:)

  • Marlana says:

    I’m going to be bold and suggest another group you should exempt. The time one works to save money could be used instead to invest money. I told my mom that she and I should have a contest. I won’t use any coupon, but I’ll call at least 10 rental properties a week, and make a point to spend my time trying to make money through investing. She can coupon (and she’s ever bit as proficient at coupon as you, always saving 60% on her bill).

    At the end of the year I’m much more likely to have tripled and quadruped my money, making way, way more than she’s saved. Both of us would have worked primarily from home.

    Now her money would be tax free. However, I can also buy and sell property tax free. So same same.

    (And yes, I do coupon some.)

    • Marlana says:

      @Marlana, I’d like to add that I have high respect for those who coupon. By all means I believe in using God’s money wisely…more people should do them. But it may not be the approach everyone will use.

    • Crystal says:

      What about doing both? That’s what I’d suggest. Seeking to find multiple streams of income and savings without neglecting your most important priorities is what a being a true home economist is all about.

  • Lisette says:

    I had to come back and add a second point…

    When I was a mother with only one child, I worked M-F, and I was gone from 7 AM – 5:30 PM every day. I didn’t coupon. I was exhausted. It was all I could do to hold our little family together. I was employed in order to provide my little family with health insurance. I worked through my lunch every day to bring home a few extra dollars every month. The amount of time I spent away from home working was a huge time commitment, but it covered our financial needs. I didn’t NEED to coupon, and I wasn’t ABOUT to take time at home away from my little girl to do so.

    Now that I have two children, I have a less stressful and less demanding job. I’m able to take the time to do coupons over my lunch break, and I am very thankful for that. Now I know that there is a great need to stretch the dollar that I am earning. Even still, I don’t think I made the “wrong” choice when I wasn’t couponing a few years ago. I was doing what was best for our family at the time.

  • Amy F says:

    I had to make a consious choice to learn about using coupons better adn make it part of my “job” like you described- counting my hourly wage before couponing finally stuck. And now, I HATE buying anything without a Q! lol and I use cloth TP, but I buy my toothpaste:)

  • theladybug catherine says:

    i noticed in your excuse #2 you said:

    …” and then pairing it with a coupon (and perhaps even a catalina deal!)…”

    Does that mean places like Harris Teeter take a manufacture’s coupon PLUS the catalina???

  • THanks for this. I needed a reminder, because although I love using coupons, I”ve been getting behind lately.

  • nanasewn says:

    In trying to be a good cyber reader/responder, always wonder what happens to my posts. I often return to see if anything has been replied to etc and most often than not my posts/questions have disappeared regardless of subject. Wondering if I am missing something about posting? I use nice girl words and stay on topic, are there other things I need to know to be accepted in the conversation? thank you

  • Megan says:

    I was wondering if anyone knows where to go to learn the process (from the beginning) I’d like to get started doing this, but would like to get going soon!!! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Angelyn says:

      Megan, I got started just a few months ago, but I already feel like a pro. I go to a blog called Southern Savers ( She makes weekly shopping lists of sale items that you can customize for most grocery stores in the south. For example, I click the Kroger tab at the top, click the boxes next to the items I’m interested in, and print only those items. The best part is, under each item she lists which coupons you can use for it and if it’s an online coupon she has a link. I literally don’t have to think about it. Most places take one manufacturer’s coupon or both a man. coupon and a store coupon for each item.
      I started out using only the printable coupons posted on Southern Savers, but now I’ve started collecting inserts from leftover Sunday papers at the hospital where I work. I’ve found that newspaper coupons usually have higher values and later expiration dates.
      To keep everything organized, I have a binder filled with currency holders I bought on Ebay. The pages are perfect because they’re the size of a dollar bill — perfect for coupons. I put divider tabs on the pages to separate them in basic categories (Baking and Spices, Cereal and Grains, etc.). As I shop, I pull the coupon for each item and put it in the front pocket of my binder.
      I live equally close to Kroger and Publix, so I go to both stores most weeks. I buy most of my items at Kroger because I find they have better everyday prices. I go to Publix to get buy-one-get-one-free deals and special offers.
      I hope this is helpful! Blogs like this one and Southern Savers have informed me about so many deals I would have otherwise missed. Like double coupon days, etc.

  • Kimberley says:

    I would love a to try a custom made skirt from the Modest Mom

  • CJ says:

    Even if you only use a few coupons every once in a while you are doing yourself good. A lady in front of me at Walgreens the other day paid $8 for body wash. I wanted to tell her I had probably 20 of them at home I got for free. Why pay $8 for something when for a little time and effort you can get it for free? Then put that $8 into savings, or treat yourself to lunch, or buy a gift for someone. Coupon savings really do add up.

  • Steph says:

    Great post, Crystal – I loved the bold statement, “I believe everyone should use coupons”! Way to go. And *thank you* for teaching us how….

  • Tania says:

    I would coupon but there are no stores in my local area that accept printables: not my Kroger or Target or Meijer or Wal*Mart or Walgreens or CVS. I don’t get the paper really ever because I read my news online and only get it if there is a phenomenal coupon.

    I wish I was lucky enough to live some place where stores wanted business.

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