Monday, January 3, 2011

Are Coupons Really Worth the Time and Effort Put In?

Every Wednesday, my ads come in the mail, and I generally get the Redplum coupons then. Sometimes I even go into the garbage can next to the mailboxes and take coupons that other people have thrown out. I clip all evening Wednesday and organize my stash.

Then on Sunday, I buy one paper for $2, separate out the ads and coupons, and clip away. I decide if it's worth it to buy more papers, and it oftentimes is, so I go down to the corner and buy more. Then I come home to clip and organize.

After I put the baby to bed on Sunday evening, I look through my circulars and see what kind of coupon matchups there are.

What is on my list of NEEDS?
What can I get for FREE?
Which stores do I currently have CREDITS with?

I spend a total of about 5 hours a week clipping, researching, and strategizing. I don't "pre-shop" like some people do, because I don't have the time, and I always have Jasper with me. I make a plan, and if the plan fails, I either switch gears, or I go home to finish it later.

I don't consider it work, all the planning, because I really enjoy it. I enjoy the rush when I get up to the counter with a cartload of stuff and then hand over my coupons and watch the numbers go down.

I actually often have dreams about coupons.

But besides the pleasure value, there is absolutely a monetary value to using coupons. The previous post detailed my trip to CVS for the first week of 2011. If I ONLY used coupons at CVS, and this week was an average week, this is how coupons would impact my individual income for a year.

I spent $8 on papers to buy coupons this week.
CVS is about 1.5 miles away from me, and since I get 32 MPG in my car, that comes out to 14 cents each way, or 28 cents total.

So my spending comes to $8.28 before I even shop.

In the store, I spent out of pocket $15.97, including taxes on applicable items.
My total spending is now $24.25. The value of the items I bought in CVS the week of 1/2/2011 was $69.25.

After considering gas, papers, and out of pocket expense, I saved $45.

Now, if this was an average week, I only shopped at CVS, and I did this every week for all of 2011, I would save $2,340. Working part-time, as I do right now, three days a week, if I actually got to work every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the rest of the year, I would net $7,176. So JUST by shopping at CVS and seriously clipping coupons and planning for a few hours a week, I've increased my individual income to $9,516.

I, personally, do not only shop at CVS, as you all well know. I also shop at Walgreens, Kroger, Target, occasionally HEB, and sometimes, yes, Walmart. I've even shown up at Dollar General for really exciting sales.
If I could save $45 a week at each of these 7 stores, I would save $16,380.

I've never saved that much before personally. But most weeks I save way more than $45. In fact, this week I've already done that because I've been working on Walgreens, and providing that I don't go into labor, tomorrow I've got plans for Kroger, HEB and Target.

This year, I am going to do my best to add up all the savings I can come home with. I'll add them up at the end of the week, and by this time next year I'll be able to tell you what my total (NONTAXABLE!!) coupon income is.

So, are coupons worth it? Well, I might be a little biased, but if you managed to read this far into the post without quitting, I'm thinking coupons are worth it to you.

Get on board!


  1. I love this post! Thanks so much! It really puts things in perspective for me. I don't coupon very much because I don't like taking all 3 kids with me, but I can see now that it's always worth it!

  2. Ashley, I wanted to recommend that you put a twitter button or a retweet button on your posts. I'd love to retweet this page and share it with the world of twitter!

  3. Hey Heather! Thanks for stopping! I'm glad this post helped you out. I've done my couponing with the stroller in one hand and the grocery cart in the other, muttering "Excuse me," 6 zillion times, I've done it while threatening the big kids with their video games, and it might be a pain in the store, and sometimes I forget things, but when I see the receipt, it becomes worth it!

    Also, I am totally technologically challenged, and I have no idea how to make a twitter button. I've always wondered how people get the "retweet" and "share on facebook" buttons, and to be honest, I've coveted them bigtime! I will try to figure it out tomorrow since I've been ordered off my feet until next week!