Monday, September 5, 2011

Is Couponing Worth It?

Sometimes I ask myself, "Is using coupons really worth it?" I'm usually thinking of all the time spent clipping coupons, getting my shopping lists together and then of course shopping. And it just makes me wonder somtimes.

And then I've had people ask me that very question, "Is it really worth it?". Occasionally I've even heard some very rude comments about "those people that waste their time couponing". So finally last week as I was thinking about this whole thing some more, I decided to crunch some numbers and see what I could learn. Here's what I discovered.

Between coupons and sales, this is what I saved each month on my grocery and household items for the first six months of the year.

Jan.: $551.47
Feb.: $624.50
March: $554.15
April: $410.34
May: $265.12
June: $405.28

Total Saved: $2810.86

Now say I was doing this as a job and wanted to see what my "pay" was based on the money I saved buy using coupons and shopping sales. There were 25 weeks in those first 6 months and say that I spent 10 hours each week clipping coupons, planning my shopping trips, and actually shopping. (And trust me, I'm pretty sure I spend NOWHERE near that amount of time!) I would still be making the equivalent of $11.24/hr.! (This is calculated from the amount I saved.)

Not only did I save $2,810.86 in those six months but I also got LOTS of grocery and household items for myself. Plus I was able to have fun sharing my stockpile with others.

So, the next time I have someone ask me, "Is couponing REALLY worth it?" I'm going to ask them if they think making $11/hr. by going shopping is worth it.

What do you think?


  1. Do you figure your cost savings by what the store says you "saved"? I find that often to use a coupon, I'm buying a name brand item that I wouldn't normally purchase if I didn't have a coupon. So to be fair, I need to figure the usual cost I would purchase that item for.

    Or am I just thinking too hard?


  2. Thanks for the question, Gina! Yes, that was how I figured this. And no, I don't think you're thinking too hard. :) Before I used coupons I also only bought store brand items. But now I can get name brand items for free or for $0.50 or less. My point is, it is still quite a bit cheaper than the store brand items that I used to buy.

    Still, you are right that the savings wouldn't be quite as much if you did as you said and figured in the usual cost you would purchase the item for. That was some of the reason I allowed 10 hrs. per week given to couponing- which was quite generous. I wanted to allow for some of those extra things. I also realize that the savings at the store are often inflated because much of my shopping is done at drugstores and their prices are typically much higher than Walmart and Target.

    Does that all make sense?

    And just in case you're curious, I'd estimate that I spend maybe 5 to 6 hours a week couponing. But quite a bit of that time is spent shopping and I'd be doing that some of the time anyway even if I wasn't couponing.

    Oh and one more thing...please don't hear me saying that everyone must coupon! I know some people simply do not enjoy it or don't do it for other reasons. For us, it has saved us so much money and enabled us to get ahead financially. It has felt like a huge blessing that God led me to discover the whole world of couponing quite by accident 3 yrs. ago. I'm also keenly aware that there are other ways people save money- such as the way you do by gardening.

  3. I think for myself, I'd take my average monthly grocery spending, subtract my average couponing monthly amount and check the difference. I think I am spending 30-50 more per month than you are w/o couponing, so I'm not sure if the time is worth it to me. Of course, that's not a completely fair comparison because our prices could be different, and we prob. buy different foods. I did coupon for awhile and loved it, but I can't get back into it. :/ I just do sporadic little jaunts when there's a really great deal that works for me.

  4. Christy, just curious, does that amount include things like diapers, razors, shampoo etc.? Because if so, I need to learn some things from you! :) True, our prices are probably different, but if you're living in a big city I'm guessing you're prices aren't at the lowest end of the spectrum.

    I wish I'd remember what I spent on grocery/household items before I couponed, but I can't. Besides prices have gone up like crazy in that amount of time. One thing I have found interesting is that we eat healthier and better since I coupon because I can get things that I wouldn't have bought otherwise for really cheap.

  5. No, it doesn't. I've always included cleaners and paper products, but not personal care items. Yeah, that would make a big difference! My budget hasn't really changed since moving to the city, because we are able to get some things from the mission--you never know what, but it does help! Cereal, cream soups, pasta, beans, and shampoo (and occasionally diapers) are some things I can often find over there if I go at the right time. I was thinking more of my pre-move budget because it's not really fair to compare if I'm getting some things free. Still, a lot of the things I can get free some of the time are things I would have couponed for. Cereal is one of the main areas where couponing helped me when I did it. I never did it all out--didn't get the Sunday paper, even so my deals weren't as good.

    When we first got married and lived in TX I started on a grocery budget of $150 a month! It was 9 years ago, but even then I'm still kind of amazed. :) It was TIGHT) I'm wondering about the healthier eating part, though. It often seemed to me that coupons were for unhealthy foods. We buy basically no snack foods and very few prepared foods. (Often pictures of couponiner's stashes are filled with lots of things we never eat--not sure your pictures look as much that way, though) However, it probably helps you cut your basics down so you can buy more produce which I would love!!


  6. That's great that you can get some stuff from the mission. I'm sure every little bit helps! And even if you aren't including household/personal care items, I'd say you were doing pretty good without couponing! I'm not sure how much I'll be able to keep up with it once our baby comes and we've been wondering how much of an increase we should expect to budget for if I can't do it. That helps me know a bit.

    Wow, $150/mo.! Yeah, I can imagine that was tight! I'm kind of thinking we budgeted about $150-$175 for grocery stuff only when we were first married and I was ALWAYS struggling to stay under budget. Maybe that is why I say we eat better now. :) We did without a lot of stuff that most people consider a necessity. (Still do sometimes.) We rarely ate cheese, except for shredded cheese in casseroles etc. We rarely ate salads or fresh fruit. We hardly ever had ice cream, used cream cheese etc. You get the picture. I feel like now with using coupons I can buy some of those things- esp. lots of fresh fruits and veggies and cheese- and still stay under budget. I also occasionally get nuts which is a healthy snack for me. Anyway....I'm getting long winded! But that is what I was thinking of when I said we eat better. I do occasionally get prepared foods, but usually only if I can get them free. Otherwise, what's the point? They simply aren't very good for you!

  7. Couponing has helped us so much already and I still don't do as much as you do but I'm learning and enjoying it at the same time. Most of what I've learned so far was from your blog and I'd like to thank you for your time and effort you put into it:)
    I also have a question which doesn't have much to do with your post but I'm wondering what's a good price on toilet paper and paper towels. Thanks,Sarah

  8. Sarah, you are more than welcome! You all are an inspiration to us in how you have allowed God to shape your view of finances. And if I have been even a small part of that, then I feel honored. It brings me joy to help others save money!

    As for the TP and paper towels...depends on what brand you like. We use and prefer the Scott brand TP and if I can find the 12 packs for $6.99 I feel like that is good. Although the sale price seems to be rising to $7.49. :( (CVS frequently has this on sale and Rite Aid does sometimes too.) I think for other brands like Cottonelle, a good buy price would be somewhere between $0.25-$0.50 a roll.

    I don't use lots of paper towels, but if I can find them for $0.50-$0.75 a roll I consider that good.

    You might enjoy looking over For the Mommas price list guide. She lives over towards West Chester so her prices are very similar to ours. I actually looked there to see what she recommends for TP since I always buy the Scott and wasn't sure what other brands run. Here's the link:

  9. We did the same--just cut a lot of foods that would be considered staples. My husband is a huge cheese fan, so I wasn't so quick to cut that. Neither of us is a huge meat eater, though, so going a little more skimply with meat in recipes or using other proteins like beans helps tremendously.

    I do admire you for being willing to put your spending out there because that can be kind of a private area. :) It helped me to be able to compare a little, and get an idea how I'm doing. And also I do enjoy this blog a lot, so thanks for the work you put into it. :)

    Our little conversation is making think about how I'd like to hear more about how people save money--what are ways you save in addition to couponing. A post idea sometime if you feel like it. =)


  10. Thanks Christy! I often feel surprised that anyone even reads this blog. But I am grateful they do. :) And as I said to Sarah, if I can help someone save money and be able to save, it makes me happy and feels rewarding.

    Yes, blogging about saving money and sharing my spending does feel kind of personal. Sometimes I struggle knowing what to post because I don't want to come across as having learned it all or knowing everything about living frugally. Neither do I want people to be discouraged if they aren't saving as much or are spending more than we do. And I know that money is such a sensitive topic and one that we can do a lot of comparing in. However, I feel like God blessed me with a quick mind in this area and has given me a passion for it and so I want to use it well too.

    Thanks for the post idea! I love when people do that. I don't always know what people find helpful. I'll have to think some on that- and yes, you just might see a post in the future. :)


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