Ask The Readers: To Clip or Not to Clip? (A Chance to Win $10!)

By Linsey Knerl on 18 August 2009 122 comments
Photo: Stuart Caie

We proudly boast some of the best savings gurus here at Wise Bread.  In fact, our own Carrie Kirby keeps quite a log of the best ways to save via coupons at Shoplifting With Permission and on the ChicagoNow's Frugalista blog.  Sometimes, I find myself envying her savvy.  After all, who wouldn't like to walk away with free coffee from time to time.

But as I learn to declutter my lifestyle, spend more time with my kids, and truly examine just how badly I need dozens of bottles of free shampoo, I struggle with whether clipping coupons is something I really need to do.  What is my time worth? Can I go generic and get the same deal? Where will I store all my freebies? I go back and forth on the issue quite regularly.  (Luckily, Carrie and others still inspire me to take their advice and apply it when and how it will fit my life.  I feel lucky to have them as a resource!)

So what do you think, dear readers?  Are you an avid coupon-clipper?  Do you plan on becoming one?  Have you shunned the practice out of principle, time, or apathy?  Maybe you clip a little here and there, but leave the hardcore stuff to the pros... We want to hear about it!  Leave a comment with your coupon clipping philosiphy, and be entered to win one ot two $10 Amazon GC's!  (We award winners every week, and $10 is enough to snag a book, a music album download, or the entire digital season 1 of The Office -- plus some cookies!)

 Those of you who aren’t familiar with the “drill,” read below for full details:

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer.  Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Thursday, August 20th at 11:59am CST. Winners will be announced after August 20th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

 Good luck!  


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Guest's picture
Mariel Martinez

If you are foreigner, like me, coupons are not something anyone would talke about, sometimes, most people do not even bother to stop thinking that there is no such a thing as coupons in many countries. You either trust what you are buying, and most of it is local, or you don´t and buy it anyway, specially if there is no competition in the area we are talking about.

I think that most people take coupons for granted, and yet, I was so surprised that when you buy something like a cream, sometimes it alreday comes with a coupon inside the package, so that you can remember the brand name, and become loyal to it...

Having coupons has its advantages... It saves you money, BUT ONLY, AND ONLY IF, YOU WERE ALREADY GOING TO BUY THAT STUFF ANYWAY. Otherwise, generic may work as well, without hurting your wallet.

As for the time and the value of it, well, if you are foreginer, like, me, and live with very little, or if you are a student, or if you are unemployed, yet you want to keep some of your old life with you (the times in which you could afford other than generic), coupons offer a solution.

But be carefull though, when you are looking for coupons, you are sending the sign that you need them, that you don´t have enough money, or that you want to appear to others that may see the brands you consume, what you are actually not, and the real question is, for what purpouse?

Guest's picture

I love coupons. Last time I was at the grocery store I had $27 worth (of course it was food I was going to buy anyway). I also love the BOGO ones for shampoo and razors.

Guest's picture

I clip coupons that are convenient. I don't go to meetings, conventions, etc., but do take all the coupons I can get from stores I frequent, flyers that arrive at my house and the Sunday paper.

I am often able to redeem five-ten dollars via coupons as I do the week's shopping.

I clip as I watch TV which helps avoid commercials and doesn't waste other time.

Guest's picture

I find myself using coupons more often now, not because of the economy, but because I now find it fun (aside: I like talk radio now too).

I am definitely not a fanatic though. I don't buy things I don't like/use even if they end up to be free, but I do occasionally buy things that we like, but definitely don't need because it's such a good deal. Case in point: pop-tarts for $1. Bought 10, got 2 free movie tickets and qualified for a $10 rebate. AWESOME. Now, do two DINKs really need 10 boxes of Pop-Tarts? Um, no, but we do like them and we got the Pop-tarts for free plus 2 movie tickets. Who could pass that up?! Also, the look on my husband's face when I unpacked them was so totally worth it.

Guest's picture

I do clip coupons, especially for anything that I'm already planning to buy. Sometimes I get to the store and realize the generic is cheaper, but with rewards and double coupons, you can really get some great deals!

Guest's picture

I'm big on coupons - for years I've kept track of how much the coupons total to each shopping trip... it helps keep me motivated. Sometimes I do accumulate more than I can use and it's a bit of a pain to hold onto it, but recently I gave a box of that stuff to a woman I met at school who had just moved into a homeless shelter to get away from an abusive husband... without coupons and freebies I'd never be able to help out that way.

Guest's picture

I took a class in January about couponing. I learned a lot, and have tried to implement as much as I can. I bought about seven bags (my own of course!) of groceries once and when the checker told me the total I said, "Does that look like $50 worth of groceries?" He said, "No, actually it looks like a lot more than that." I didn't even use many coupons that time, keeping a list of best prices has been my key to saving money.

Guest's picture
Connie Corey

I use them religiously, but highly selectively. I go for the best bang for the buck with a sale + coupon combo. I don't buy stuff just because I have a coupon - it has to earn it's use!

Guest's picture

I use coupons as often as possible, but only on items I normally buy. Rather than clipping them from the newspaper (which I find to be a waste of time and money) I order them online. When I find really great coupons for items I like, I'll order multiples and save them. Next time that item is on sale, I'll use the coupons and save big. With a combination of sales, BOGOs, and double coupons, I usually end up with at least 1 item for free (or very close).

Guest's picture

I tried to use them, but all I ever did was collect them, carry them around for awhile, then remember I had them only to discover they were all expired. So, I finally decided all I was doing was creating clutter and gave it up. It was also hard to find coupons for things like fresh vegetables and whole foods, which is mostly what we eat.

Guest's picture

When my kids were at home - 3 boys - I used coupons all the time but only for items we would normally buy or in order to try a new product. Coupons for food were tops on my list, but clothing, toys but only for gifts and store coupons followed closely.

Now that it is just my husband and I coupons are not used as often. This week, however, I'm using coupons for Starbucks Ice Cream $1 off on a BOGO deal (and a real treat because we only buy ice cream on a BOGO deal), Hellman's mayo on sale with $.50 cpn, Cascadian Farms granola bars again BOGO with $1 cpn.

My local WinnDixie does a lot of BOGO on meats and since coupons on meat are rare - once a month I'll stock up and save $40-$45 and spend $40-$45. We are able to live well on our SS because of coupon use, BOGOs and thrifty cooking. I can't even participate in the Friday Food Waste blogs because we don't have any - well I did have a blueberry go bad in the bottom corner of the clamshell package but that hardly matters.

I don't get the newspaper so rely on my neighbor to give me coupons from Sunday paper and coupons with the free Green Sheet weekly and thru the mail. Also use many web sites.

Doubt any of you remember back in the 60s & 70s when if you used coupons you were give CASH BACK!! I always put it aside for special things like vacations.

Guest's picture

Well, since I've switched to organic foods that really knocked off a lot of the coupon cutting for me. Now I try to look at the products and ask myself "Is it something I would want to consider buying without a coupon?" If the answer is yes, I clip. If not I feel no qualms about passing it by. The deals are there but now I'd rather pay a bit more for quality and impact.

Guest's picture
Tammy S

I used to clip coupons years ago and then got out of the habit for whatever reason. I'm back now!
It's a pain and a joy. And I don't buy things I would not normally buy anyway, just because I have a coupon.

Guest's picture

I say a penny saved is a penny earned, especialy when you can get the high-dollar coupons. I use them every single week!

Guest's picture

I was once an avid clipper. I had an organizer and went to the grocery stores that doubled my coupons. One day, while shopping, my organizer was stolen from my cart. I was so discouraged because of the amount of time I had invested in filling that organizer that I have never been a true clipper since.

I will use coupons, but I don't go out of my way to do so. I buy the house brands and I stock up when stuff I use goes on sale.

I keep it simple and use less stuff.

Guest's picture

I am not a frequent coupon clipper, sometimes I do clip them when I see a necessity item such as bread in the mailings. However, I find that sometimes coupons will dictate your purchases, I dont need that extra bag of chips, but if there's a coupon for $2 off, I might just slip up and buy it. Coupons can save you money on items that you were going to purchase, however, it may also cause you to spend more, even if those goods are at a discounted price.

Guest's picture

I am not an avid coupon clipper. I only clip coupons of items that I already intended to buy. I don't buy things just because there is a discount for it.

Guest's picture

I visit sites like that pair the coupons with the sales flyers for me. One common thread in the comments section was that people can't find coupons for produce. Just yesterday I went to Target with my $1 off a pineapple coupon and my $1 off a 1lb or more of apples coupon. Go to to print only the # & type of Target coupons you want without the wasted paper.

Guest's picture

Like others have said, I can't stand paying full price if I don't have to for hair care, soap, deoderant, etc. Just this week I've gotten two deoderants for free.

For the most part, I follow a few deal/coupon blogs and read the postings that pair coupons and sales at my stores (mostly Super Target). Target has great coupons I can pair up with manufacturer coupons, and do have produce coupons. I've gotten free small loaves of French bread and nearly free bananas twice this week. I print the printables that work for my family, and ignore the rest.

I routinely save 50% or more on each shopping trip, and spend no more than two hours of my time each week.

Guest's picture
Lisa B.

I have recently started coupon clipping, and am enjoying it so far, for the most part. I follow a couple of great blogs, and have been having an awesome time saving money and getting free stuff.

I used to believe that coupons were a waste of time because they were only for brand name items and processed food. I also do not eat a lot of processed food and I cook all meals at home. But I still find plenty of coupons for things we do like to eat, as well as toiletries and other stuff I hate spending money on. When you stack coupons and take advantage of sales, that's when you save money. And it's better to get coupons for free-I ask my dad for his, and I raid the recycle bin of our rental condo for more coupons. Fred Meyer also has a coupon exchange bin at the front of the store which is great, I can't believe the people who don't look at their coupons and discard catalinas with free items on them(Thanks!)

I still have to do a better job of streamlining - It takes me about three times as long to do a shopping trip now than it did before now that I have coupons because I'm always digging in my organizer looking for a coupon.

Our income has been drastically reduced over the last year and a half, so I feel good about being able to use coupons to stockpile necessities for times when money is tight.

Guest's picture

I try to use coupons, but getting online coupons is NOT as simple as they say. 9 times out of 10 you have to 1) answer a survey 2) buy a product
3) ask for information from one of the sponsors which you don't want/need and 4) download their tool bar in order to print the coupons. I like cutting because I'm dieting and it keeps my hands off the refrigerator/freezer doors. Also, I have this bad habit I'm trying to break - SALES!!! My family says, "The word sale to you is like waving a red cape in front of a bull. You buy things you normally wouldn't buy." I would also make suggestions:
1) If you don't like coupons and/or if like me you have "senior moments" and forget the coupons, use your grocery store club cards - grab a store circular, look for special manager sales, in-store unadvertised sales.
NOTE: I have found that sometimes a well-known brand is cheaper than the store brand so take time if you can and compare prices. I went to grocery shopping the other day and forgot the coupons. Following the above advice, I SAVED $35.00 and the total bill was over $100. 2) I'm now getting in the habit of going with a list. I go through my food cupboards, refrigerator/freezer, and ask family. This way I won't be overloaded with the same items, i.e. 5 boxes of angel hair spaghetti, 6 cans of tomato soup, etc. 3) My word processing program (Microsoft) prints out grocery list forms, so all I have to do is type in the info and print it out. I guess I should add that I love grocery shopping - great way to exercise: walking, lifting, pushing the cart. If you do find yourself overloaded with duplicates, please consider donating them to a food pantry. I cleaned out my cupboard the other day and filled 6 bags of food to give to my temple - food pantries around our area make pick-ups every week. Also, coupons are great donations for charities - people and animals. Grocery stores have coupon boxes when you exit the store. I put in the store coupons I get at the cash register that I don't use and the ones I clipped for them while getting the ones I use.

Guest's picture

I try to avoid processed foods so most coupons don't apply to me. When I see a coupon that does apply to me, I clip and use it, but I don't do it very often. Still, our grocery bills are quite low because we stick to generic brands and whole foods.