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Eight Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Coupons — oh really?!

Yahoo Finance released an article earlier this week on 8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Coupons. Articles like these always leave me shaking my head.

No offense to the author, but I believe she is very misinformed. A quick internet search would have proven most of her points invalid.

Of course, I’m biased as I believe everyone should use coupons in some way, shape or form. Unless you make half a million dollars each year and own an island, I believe you could benefit from using coupons — if even just to casually use them for a few products each week and shave $40 off your grocery budget every month.

Andrea did a great job of responding and rebutting each of the author’s points in her post. And, just for kicks, I thought I’d do the same. So here are the eight arguments for not using coupons from Yahoo along with my rebuttals:

Argument #1 You have to buy a newspaper.

My Rebuttal: Actually, I use lots of coupons and haven’t purchased a newspaper in over two years. Check out my article on 10 Ways to Get Coupons for Free.

Argument #2: Clipping coupons takes time.

My Rebuttal: Yes, clipping coupons takes time, but in most cases, it’s time very well spent. I mean, where else can you find a job you can do from your home that earns you $30-$50 per hour in tax-free savings?

To be honest, I really don’t spend any extra time clipping coupons. I bring my coupon box each week to a regular family gathering and clip and file while engaged in our discussions. I figure if my mouth and brain are going to be busy, I might as well keep my hands productive, too.

If you want to save even more time, try the no-coupon-clipping method of using coupons.

Argument #3: Getting a newspaper invites lots of additional advertising into your home.

My Rebuttal: Who says you have to bring the whole newspaper into your home? We don’t. We only bring coupon inserts to be clipped.

Argument #4: Many of the coupons will be for things you neither need nor want.

My Rebuttal: Yes, and that’s why there’s this thing called a trashcan. No one says you have to clip and use every coupon — especially if you didn’t pay for them. Use the coupons which work for you, toss the rest.

However, I’d also argue that if you’re willing to try new things which are free, almost-free or more-than-free, you might discover some new products you love! Or, if you have the time and energy, you could also consider buying things you can get for free or more-than-free with coupons and donating them if you won’t use them.

Argument #5: Coupons can tempt you to spend your grocery dollars on things you shouldn’t.

My Rebuttal: If coupons are tempting you to spend your grocery dollars on things you shouldn’t, you might consider not going grocery shopping because just walking down a grocery store aisle can tempt you to spend all sorts of money you shouldn’t spend. One reason you need to learn self discipline is that, otherwise, you’ll likely spend money on things you shouldn’t all the rest of your life.

My advice is to create a grocery budget and shop with cash in order to help encourage self-discipline. After all, it’s pretty hard to spend a lot of money you don’t have at the grocery store when you have a budget and pay with cash!

Argument #6: The same coupons tend to be offered over and over again.

My Rebuttal: Seriously, has this author ever even clipped coupons before? Yes, there are some coupons that you see regularly, but the whole point of coupons is very often to introduce new products. So there is a wide variety of coupons offered — especially with the advent of printable coupons and coupons offered through Facebook.

And at any rate, I like it when great coupons which net free or almost-free products appear again and again. It enables me to keep my pantry and stockpile filled for pennies on the dollar!

Argument #7: You might become a slave to coupons.

In explaining her point, the author says:

“It can be very difficult to buy something without a coupon once you get used to using coupons. Knowing that you can get ice cream for $2.50 might make it difficult for you to spend $4 on it…”

My Rebuttal: Okay, I admit it. I’m a Coupon Slave. Because seriously? Who pays $4 for ice cream? It’s very rare we ever pay over $2 for it!

Jesting aside, she does have a point here. It is possible to become so obsessed with coupons and bargain-shopping that you spend excessive amounts of time planning and shopping.  That’s why I always suggest you consider how much time you realistically have to invest and how much you are saving per hour.

If your other priorities are suffering or you are saving less than $15 per hour, you need to step back and take a look at how to streamline things so couponing is more effective and rewarding for you and your family.

Argument #8: Shopping takes longer.

My Rebuttal: It can, but it doesn’t have to. If you take the time to plan a menu and plan your shopping trip, you can actually save time on shopping and meal prep.

How? Because having a plan and following the plan is always going to save you time and effort when compared to having no plan and just flying by the seat of your pants. Instead of waiting until 5 p.m. to figure out dinner and then running to the store to pick up things to make dinner, you can write out a menu for the whole week and make one big shopping trip to buy everything.

Now, of course, if you enjoy couponing and see it as your hobby (a hobby that saves your family money, too!), you can spend more time grocery shopping than average folks do. But usually, the savings you’ll reap is also very significant. (And if it’s not, then you likely need to see my point above about re-prioritizing!).

Whew! There’s so much more I could say on each of these points. It was hard to condense my rebuttals to a paragraph or two. But I figured I’d leave it at that and let you chime in.

Do you agree with any of the author’s arguments for why you shouldn’t use coupons? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

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225 Comments

  • Sarah says:

    Great post. I have yet to read the full article but enjoyed the summary of arguments and agree.
    I shared it with a co-worker and she said that the manufacturers should quit offering coupons and make the prices lower for all. Good point, even if wishful thinking in today’s socitey. I went on to tell her about Aldi. 🙂
    Now I’m off to find consistent sources for free newspaper coupons as “mom” is about to become my full-time job title (losing access to said co-workers coupons.)

  • I’ll just add my comment to the other 150 🙂

    Seriously!?
    You should always do what’s right for you and your family but actually telling people not to use coupons is crazy. Particularly since it seems as if the author has never used a coupon.

    I liked your rebuttals and have to save that I do spend more time in the store. Why? It is my hobby. It’s fun and challenging. PLUS I spend under 1/2 of what I used to on groceries and that was when it was just 2 adults and an infant! Oh, the extra savings and family fun we get to have with the extra money.

    I wrote a quick list post yesterday on 10 reasons why I love coupons 🙂

    http://www.thecouponchallenge.com/2010/07/10-reasons-why-i-love-using-coupons.html

  • Julie McClung says:

    Great post!

    I save TONS of money using coupons. I don’t have anyone around to bum coupons off of, and I don’t know where there are any recycling bins (rural area). So, I use a coupon clipping service. Talk about time-saved! I plan what I want to buy for the week, and order my coupons on Monday, and receive them on/around Thursday. I shop on Saturday. I love this. I used to buy multiple papers, but I get as many coupons as I want (sometimes in multiples of 10-20) without having to buy a paper for every single one, and for a way better price (usually around 10-15 dollars, sent priority). This week, Lord-willing, I’ll save over $100 just in coupon savings, much less grouping it with the store deals!

    Your site has helped me in the journey, and I am ever so grateful!

  • franki says:

    read article -got stuck on could spend the time mopping the floor while watching TV instead of couponing.
    Many coupon-ers are stuck at home and need the mental gymnastics of figuring out the best way to use a $5 off $25 or pre-determine your total to absorb overage. Better than doing crossword puzzles.
    Once read article on keeping the brain alert and noted one activity that doesn’t help is housework. In my house, it could absorb my my time unless I had something useful to change my focus- like reducing costs for groceries, et al.

  • karen says:

    AMEN!

  • Allison says:

    Good grief– I thought the article would have some sort of GOOD reason, something morally unacceptable, like maybe coupons are printed on machines run by toddlers in sweatshops in third world countries. But these aren’t even good reasons! I guess if you read between the lines it makes the point that if you are undisciplined or uninformed you could overspend just for the sake of using a coupon. But other than that I can’t see much value in the article.

  • Rhonda says:

    Actually, someone might have commented on this already, but the author who wrote that post actually had a saving money blog where she advocated the use of coupons. So something up there, huh?
    Anyway, I found the excuses for not using coupons pretty lame and thought originally it was written by someone who had no knowledge of coupon use~I think it’s actually the opposite of that. So maybe she just put these “arguments” together to write an article to support the opposing view? Funny…………hmm

  • I can see both sides of this issue. I’m all for anything that will save money. On the other hand, I no longer shop for food in the supermarket, since I don’t want to feed my family all the chemicals, salt, and sugar that are in all the commercially processed supermarket foods. I do, however, see nothing wrong with using coupons for paper and cleaning products and toiletries – although I do get a lot of that at the 99 Cent store.

    I also often use the restaurant coupons, which offer considerable savings for those of us who like to eat out.

  • Lee says:

    Fabulous rebuttals!!!

  • Kara says:

    I read a little about the article on Hip2save and her rebuttal. Then I went and read the article, I wanted to reach through the computer and yell at the author. I do agree that you can become a slave to couponing, but it can be a good thing, with time management.
    I told my husband about the article, he thought she was nuts. If I can save my family at least $100 a month on items we need, we’re all for it.

  • Yahoo has been posting some really awful articles lately….did anyone see the one about feeding your baby solids last week?
    Just misinformed or badly written….
    Anyhow, I live in a smaller town and while other people here manage to find alot more coupons than I, I simply do not have time, but i do use coupons whenever I can and find i save alot when I combine them with markdowns generally.

  • Erin says:

    regarding argument #1 – because there could not possibly be any other reason in the whole world to buy a newspaper? How about… for the news?? Or for upcoming local events, or a chuckle at the comics or sports updates? I think we should look at it like… I would buy a Sunday paper anyway (which is true) and I end up MAKING MONEY on it!! Our paper is like $1.50 on Sundays (my hubby always goes and buys it for me on Sunday mornings so I’m kinda not sure of the price) and end up saving at least (AT LEAST) $10 with coupons. And that’s if I don’t “try” very hard. Oye. There’s a lot more extravagant things we spend $1.50 on!

  • Betsy Durand says:

    Lots I could say, but it’s already been said by many of your loyal readers….however, as to her argument on having tons of coupons that she would not use and the “problem” of what to do with them, let me say thank you to you, Crystal, for pointing me to a solution to this problem. And I am not referring to the trash can! You posted an article last year on sending coupons to military families who can use them on bases around the world. I have been doing this now for almost a year and it has been a blessing to see how they can help others who use products that I may not use and can help save them $$. It’s really not all about us anyway, is it?! Couponing or anything else should not be about me (1 Cor. 10:31). Even couponing can help us think about how we can help others….

  • Letty says:

    Love this post!!! I was offended my the feature article as well- and thought- wow- this lady really doesn’t understand the whole point of couponing!

  • Susan S. says:

    AMEN SISTER!!

  • Rose says:

    This woman is probably making sooooooo much money with here book, that she does’nt need to use coupons. I just love it when the so called experts try to make others look like they don’t have a mind of their own.

  • Jeana says:

    I think that article was horrible! I am so blessed to be a person that makes nearly a half million dollars a year and I still use coupons! If it wasn’t for coupons and my frugal ways, our family would not have all that we have now. I will be a couponer until the day I die!

  • Lauren B says:

    Hi Crystal,

    My friend sent me a link to your ‘savings for the week’ column from one of the parenting sites (I don’t even remember because I went straight to your blog). I knew immediately that your site would be a huge resource for me.

    I really enjoyed this post – and I wanted to comment because I relate very much to argument #7. I recently discovered the joys of discounts, and more importantly, how readily available they are. (Especially online!)

    Long story short, I have no desire to buy anything at full price anymore! Although I wouldn’t call myself a “slave”, the habit led me to your blog, and I wanted to express my appreciation for sharing all these great deals with us coupon-clippers!

    Thanks! Lauren

  • Liz Dorsey says:

    I have 3 kids and cereals are always changing, so coupons give us a cheaper way to try new cereals. Plus, I can send my older kids through the store to try and find stuff with the coupons, they are learning grocery shopping (yes they are boys!) and some savings stuff too. I love to find out where the Total Cinnamon Crunch cereal went, seriously, can’t find it anywhere now… And candy coupons are great when we (um, I mean the boys, hahaha) need a treat.

    Liz

  • I’m not crazy about coupons, myself, but I would never tell my girlfriend that she’s wasting her time when she helps us to save money. We do need to buy those paper towels, laundry detergents, sooner or later!

  • Anne says:

    Easy enough. If the same amount of money fell down on the ground – would you pick it up ? Most of us would say yes. It’s all about the respect of money and personal choice.

  • Krystal says:

    I think the point that irritates me the most is that “most of the coupons will be for items you neither need nor want.” I clip ALL the coupons. I save the ones I want to use and then I mail the ones I don’t want or ones that end up expiring to military bases for military families to use since they can use expired ones. Sharing coupons is a very easy way to help out other families.

  • Tania says:

    As I posted on Facebook, I think the article is true. Couponing is a way for some people and some items but not all. For example, a strict macrobiotic that avoids all sugar, processed foods, and the like and promotes ‘stranger’ foods that normally don’t get marked down or sold at Kroger can’t benefit from heavy couponing. Product couponing (like shampoos and papers, etc.) but not from food. For some people in cases like that, scouring to find a handful of $.50 coupons isn’t worth the 10 – 15 minutes of effort.

    We shouldn’t be critical because others have ‘their’ way of doing things just because we have ‘our’ way.

    • Crystal says:

      If you use coupons for household and beauty products only, and 15-30 minutes of effort reduces your grocery bill by $15-$20 per week, I’d say it’s every bit worth it. And the article completely discounted that — which is why it bothered me so much!

      But, of course, that’s just my opinion. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    Crystal~
    You are so right!

  • Angel says:

    I think the only thing I can say is….bwaaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaaa!!!! I got such a good laugh out of this! No one will ever be able to tell me that couponing isn’t worth it or doesn’t save me money. I spend an hour each week clipping and organizing my coupons. From that (and a few other shopping savvy behaviors) I have reduced my family of four’s grocery budget to $30-35 a week. Not worth it? Haaaahaaaahaaa!

  • Kim says:

    My biggest peave of what she said is her example in #7…
    I mean WHO CARES IF YOU GO HOME WITHOUT ICE CREAM BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T PAY $4 FOR???????? Your family is better off nutritionally for it anway. That’s just dumb. If she had said “you won’t buy lettuce or tomatoes or bananas or apples or “…any other healthy essential to health veggies fruits or whole grains. I would have agreed with her at least somewhat, but ICE CREAM????? As if ice cream is an essential nutrient!!

  • Pamela says:

    I read that article when I was posted on-line and had all the same thoughts as you did. I think she is just a coupon snob and just had space to fill that day ! Most everyone who does couponing knows the real deal!

  • I couldn’t believe this article when I first read it over the weekend. It was very condescending and almost, rude. What a crock of cr@p this woman writes about though. My mom and boyfriend are continously AMAZED at how much money I am able to save and how EASY it truly is! I cut coupons at night during commercials when watching TV with my bf (at his place, of course, b/c I cut off my cable to save more moolah!)…Not to mention my time at stores is literally cut way down because I only go in for what I have coupons for and then I go home! YAY FOR COUPONING AND LIVING FRUGALLY!

  • Lu says:

    When I first read the title to the article I thought how obsurd”
    But then I read it more in detail and realized the author did have a few good points.
    First she said that the coupons are for mostly for processed foods and this is true except for heathcare/beauty.
    Also when she said that we start to become a slave to our coupons, she is totaly right! I mean back in April there were so many deals on smart balance spread and I can’t believe its not butter and all the butter and spreads. I stocked up on so many and now my stockpile is almost gone and yeasterday I was like panicking and literally had to tell myself thats its ok if I don’t have a coupon for the product. I CAN buy a product without a coupon. Its OK. I can even choose the store brand if I still want to save a little if I dont have a coupon. I had to keep repeating this to myself and I did it. I bought it wothout a coupon. It was tought but I did not want to get sooooo obsessed with coupons.

  • Tracey Snyder says:

    Funny thing is Yahoo had another article back in February stating the opposite…

    http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-108816-4123-3-how-to-save-100-in-an-hour?ywaad=ad0035

  • Anita says:

    My husband forwarded this article to me. After reading it, I commented to him that in this author’s case, her ignorance is certainly not bliss. It costs her a big chunk of change..;). I agree with you, Crystal, definitely not someone who is appropriately informed about couponing

  • Kami says:

    Is this person serious? Sure I don’t save as much as you do, but I figure ANY coupon I can use and DO SAVE is a few dollars less that I spent. Yeah me! UGH! Some people really annoy me!

  • Ann B says:

    Those were all the reasons that I had given up on couponing before, but that is because I didn’t have a good plan, strategy or organization. With the help of your blog, I have figured out how to coupon in a way that works for me.
    And yes, it’s easy to become a slave to coupons, but that is where self discipline comes in. I found myself almost obsessed with getting every deal and it got a little rediculous and not to mention very time consuming. That’s when I reevaluated, reorganized and I now have a healthy relationship with coupons again.
    We’ve had a busy summer so my coupon usage isn’t as high as it had been, but everyone needs a break now and then.

    By the way, I read your article in All You about Drug Stores. I thought I new it all but I learned a few things. Thanks!

  • Beth says:

    It seems to me that a new title, “8 Deadly Sins of Couponing” or “8 Traps To Avoid When Using Coupons” or “8 Pitfalls of Coupons” would make the article something you’d like- her points are hangups that COULD happen-it doesn’t mean they have to, or that the are reasons to give up coupons!

  • diane c says:

    I have to say this article didn’t make me mad. It just simply offended me. She is obviously sitting at a desk, making a lot of money writing nonsense. I live in a very small rural community, where the unemployment is over 10% and my husband unemployed over a year. Without coupons, I wouldn’t have made it. Buying the things I use to cook inexpensive meals, or yogurts, or rice, etc would be a challenge otherwise. Feeding a family is hard. Shame on her for being so condescending.

  • Keira says:

    The arguments are weak.
    #1 – Some of us get the paper anyway, for the news in hard copy form, not for the coupons. Then the coupons are a bonus… but so many of my coupons are printables, or I get right in the aisle at the grocery store.

    #8 “It can be very difficult to buy something without a coupon once you get used to using coupons. Knowing that you can get ice cream for $2.50 might make it difficult for you to spend $4 on it…”
    This made me laugh! As if this is a BAD thing?? In this scenario, I’ll just wait until I can get it for $2.50 again!
    Oh, the silliness.

  • Beth Moore says:

    I have found the more whole, natural ingredients we use, the less profitable coupon-ing is for our family. We are way more frugal and spend way less money buying whole, fresh ingredients and making our own cleaning products than we ever were with coupons. We also use cloth diapers, no shampoo, family cloth and so forth, so there just aren’t many options for us in terms of coupon usage, other than the occasional meal out or automotive services and things of that nature.
    However, I think it is RIDICULOUS to suggest that the use of coupons isn’t worth it for the average American.

  • Lindsey says:

    This article is so stupid!! If coupons are so bad, why did I just get home from buying 2 tubes of toothpaste for .03? Not only is it great to get things free for obvious reasons, it is really fun for me!! Thanks for teaching me how to use coupons properly Crystal!! 🙂

  • Lynn says:

    If you google the author’s name, she has a personal blog and actually promotes using coupons on her blog and uses them herself. Almost makes you wonder if she is trying to discourage people from using them on purpose and for very selfish reasons. Very sad if thats true….using her “expertise” for the wrong reasons.

  • jean gibson says:

    Thank you for the great rebuttle to this article. She apparently did not interview real people. Does she not know first of all people do not just buy a newspaper for coupons. They buy the newspaper to read the news…duh. I bought the newspaper and threw away the inserts before becoming an avid couponer. What a waste that was. Ok, I will not go on, but thank you again. “You go girl”

  • Marge says:

    The author of that article is a professional writer. She was paid to write a specific article targeted to a specific audience, regardless of what her personal opinions and practices are. Isn’t this eye-opening? Lesson learned: don’t take anything the mainstream media (which includes Yahoo) tells you at face value.

  • Paula Morgan says:

    Hooray for you and Andrea too. Couponing is one of the best ways to help save money on things you normally buy anyway. I think both of you did an excellent job of refuting the 8 reasons WHY NOT TO USE. I will continue to use coupons from newspaper inserts, magazines, blogs, no-print types for my Kroger card, etc. Keep up the good work.

  • Melanie says:

    I had some of the same opinions as the author of the article until just six months ago. I thought it would take to much time, I would get to many coupons I did not need and more paper would pile up around my house. At the beginning of 2010 I decided to give it a try. I found coupons online for the items my family uses and started using them along with store specials. Just out of curiosity, last night I totaled up what I have saved since January, $1, 292.47. I am hooked and I am so glad I started trying to do this. We are self employed, so it has made us have to feel this resession a little less. We will see how the next six months go.

  • Sara says:

    What an inane article! Enough said.

  • Tracy says:

    My only problem with couponing is that many of the coupons I get in the Sunday paper are for products I don’t use. I do clip those on products I do use for my family…..But I often find that they are for the more expensive brands. My personal experience has found that even with coupons, the generics are many times less expensive then the name brands with coupons. I think that coupons work most of the time if you are a brand shopper, but for me, I use them occassionally but find that if I stick to the cheaper items I save money. I do, however, love it when an item we use all the time is on sale and I can pair it with a coupon. Then I get all excited!!

  • Right on! Perfect response. It is obvious that this writer has no idea what a coupon is nor has ever experienced the “high” happiness and joy you get from this “frugal Passion venture” paying pennies for groceries, toiletries and everything else!

  • Kelly says:

    I too was shaking my head when I saw this article the other day. I immediately googled the author and found a way to send her a message. The email I sent her was similar to your list above with a rebutal on all 8 reasons. In addition to the reasons being invalid, she also completely contradicts herself by stating in her Bottom line “you can save a lot of money with coupons” however if you re-read #5 she stated “they won’t truly save you any money.”

    Also let her know how I thought it was great that the article does not allow comments!

    Not sure what Yahoo was thinking when publishing this.

  • Lindsay says:

    Just another example of biased media trying to treat hardworking smart American’s like brainless idiots. I am so tired of media running stories that have not been fact checked! There are tons of people that that could benefit from using coupons as well as other angles to reduce their household spending! I cook almost everything from scratch and still use coupons to contribute to my household budget! Not to mention I work full time, have 2 kids and 1 on the way and I can still make the time to “get paid” $30-$40/hr clipping coupons!!!! Time well spent! Good rebuttal Crystal!

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