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

by Linsey Knerl on 18 August 2009 121 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.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

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
Emily Manuola

Do I use coupons? HA!!! I use them on the regular to purchase items on sale (AKA loss leaders) at a grocery store that doubles coupons up to 50 cents. Some items I get for free and some I pay very little. I buy my meat at the same store and I bring my own bags which gets me points toward 10 cents off a gallon of gas on my next fill-up. My husband always tells the cashier "Watch this" when I hand over the coupons. I save at least 65 to 70%. I LOVE coupons!

Guest's picture
Guest

CLIP!! $.025 off is as good as a quarter in your pocket. If you saw a quarter lying on the sidewalk, you'd pick it up, wouldn't you? And often a store will double it value. My only caveat is to NOT let availability of coupons control my buying behavior.

Guest's picture
Holly

I rarely clip coupons, though I'll use them if they come inside a package of something I've already purchased. I spent years trying to get coupons doubled at stores (that supposedly doubled coupons), never having them doubled, then getting home and not using the products I'd purchased -- has led me to realize the waste of time and money that is, for me, clipping coupons. For some people, I"m sure this is a great way to save money. But avoiding unnecessary purchases in the first place (and shopping at stores that have lower costs) is my current preferred method.

Guest's picture

Not me, but my wife does it all the time. She saves around $25 per month by using coupons, and all it takes is about an hour of her time once a month clipping and organizing. $25/mo (often higher) doesn't seem like a lot, but it's $300 in a year, without having to leave the house.

Guest's picture
Erika

I had to comment, not just for the $10 chance, but because I read Carrie's blog too. I have my own strategies for saving money, but I shop more around what I want to eat & make and try to find bargains along the way.

I will use coupons ONLY if they're for stuff I normally buy, and if they fall in my lap - they're on the shelf, they're in/on the package, etc. I love reading about extreme savings like Carrie gets, but they really dictate what you eat. I like to choose what I like. I buy vegetables & fruits mostly in season at my local fruit store, I buy in bulk when it makes sense, I buy out the case when my meats go on sale and freeze them, I go to the stores where my favorite items are cheapest and taste best (even Whole Foods has a couple of bargains), and I print out an aisle-by-aisle list so I don't get distracted by other stuff. It's hard enough for me to plan, shop and cook in addition to having a job outside the home...so the long answer to the short question is NO, I'm not a clipper.

Guest's picture
Mel

Very few of the items I buy have coupons as I usually only get fruits/veggies/staples. I do try to use coupons for cat food/litter but usually the store brand is less expensive then the name brand with coupon. I do have a few items that if i see a dollar off c oupon for I will clip but I don't go out of my way much to do it.

Guest's picture
falnfenix

my mother clips those she thinks i'll use. usually she's spot-on. i, however, don't clip, because that would require getting the paper, which i don't find to be a terribly good "poor skill." i'd rather find coupons online, or take them from those who won't use them. i don't use them if we don't need the product, or wouldn't normally buy it. i HAVE managed to save quite a bit using this technique. i also sift through my coupon booklet monthly and recycle that which i haven't used.

Guest's picture
Alice

I clip coupons only for things that I need or use frequently. I often use them in conjunction with a sale. While I am not as fanatical about it as some, it's only me in the house, so I don't buy as much as a person with a spouse and/or kids, but it definitely saves me a lot of money over the course of a year.

Guest's picture
Alice

For regular groceries, I clip coupons, but only the ones from the free neighbor newspaper and from online sites. Don't want to pay for a newspaper. So, I probably don't make much savings there -- maybe $1-2/week.

For warehouse stores like Costco, I definitely take advantage of their coupons and will wait until I get a coupon to buy items like paper towels and toilet paper. This provides good savings, usually $10+ per trip.

Guest's picture
Jeremy

We clipped and stockpiled and saved for months and months.. then life got busy. Now, nearly a year later we are running low on a lot of the stockpiled items that we had, so we decided that we needed to start again.

We are again clipping and again getting some great deals. It's all a game to us.. where we can get the best deal... and our stockpile is enjoying getting full again.

Guest's picture
Diana W.

I love coupons! I live alone so my grocery bill is already pretty low, but money is tight so every little bit helps. Unfortunately, I did the math and the cost of subscribing to a newspaper just for the weekly coupons would offset any savings. Luckily, I have a generous aunt who is an avid coupon clipper. Every week or two she sends me her extra coupons. I don't know if I'm an "avid" coupon-clipper, myself, but I definitely get a thrill when I see that total drop as my coupons are applied. :)

Guest's picture
Emily

I don't get a Sunday paper or many coupons in the mail, but if I did, I would definitely use them more. My printer is also very tempermental, so printing them is hard too. But I do love coupons! =)

Guest's picture
RebeccaP

I go through stages of coupon clipping. When I am trying to build up my stock pile of stuff, I clip lots of coupons. After my stock pile has reached its max, I take a little break and relax for a while.

Guest's picture
Min

But I don't seek them out, generally. I'll skim store fliers for stuff I already buy, but most of my coupon use comes from the ones printed out at the grocery store counter.

Guest's picture
Carrie

I totally agree with what you said, and it goes for all bargain-hunting -- do what makes sense and fits into your lifestyle. Don't let it TAKE OVER your life.

Guest's picture
cavale

yes! i clip coupons like crazy. i don't even buy newspapers, i just head out to the recycling center on sunday and get tons of free coupons.

recently i broke my foot, and my boyfriend and i have spent about TWICE what we usually spend, since i can't get out there and shop the grocery sales like i used to.

Guest's picture
Jen W

I generally do not clip coupons for grocery items, as we eat mostly whole foods and avoid packaged, processed stuff. I will, however, use them to save money on things like personal items, additional percent off when I'm scoring some good buys on Macy's clearance racks, etc. Kohl's often has $10 off a minimum purchase of $10 or more (hello, free undies! LOL), or 40% off one item at the craft store.

For grocery-savings, my strategy is to have a spreadsheet with my master price list, which I alphabetize by item. I note who has the lowest price on a specific item (and amount of product) as well as the sale price that comes around on occasion, which can sometimes undercut the lowest price at another store where we shop.

Guest's picture
Molly

I love clipping coupons.

I find the whole sorting, recycling ones I don't want, clipping, filing, weeding, using, process very soothing. It tickles that "organization" need and "pitch" need without a ton of stuff. And it comes with my paper every week.

Granted, I don't actually use many of my coupons, but I do make a point to always use a few (cat litter, dishwashing detergent), and so while the return may not be huge monetarily, it is huge in terms of expense per enjoyment hour. :-)

Guest's picture
Christy K

Yes, I do clip coupons. Every Sunday I get several papers and cut the coupons from those. I also look for extra sets at the recycling center, or I purchase them at Coupon Clippers or Ebay. I'm not brand specific on 99% of what I buy, so I combine sales and loss leaders with coupons so I can stockpile. It does get tedious at times but we are a family of 5 on a tight budget and it saves us a ton of money. It's a nice feeling knowing we have something to fall back on if there were a job loss or injury and we couldn't get to the store so often. And I have to admit, it's a small thrill to get things for free! LOL

Guest's picture
Kelli

I'd love to be one of those who saves $100+ on their grocery bills by clipping coupons...but I'm not. Maybe someday, but I haven't yet taken the time to create a system that is practical and will work for my current situation.

Guest's picture
Jamie

I am a big coupon clipper! I usually just check the Sunday paper and match the coupons for items I use with store flyers for extra deals. I've even written to Kashi and Amy's foods and was sent coupons for free items! It's a way to save a few bucks, and since I enjoy it, it's worth it for me.

Guest's picture
Amy

I'm not a very avid couponer. I try to use them when I can, but I buy a lot of store brand products, which are often cheaper than name brand + coupon.

For items where I refuse to buy store brand, like facial and bath tissue, I look for sales and/or coupons online.

Though I don't do much coupon-clipping now, I know that it's something extra I can do when times are tight.

Guest's picture
Shelly

I love using coupons! I first started clipping coupons at the age of eleven.I wanted something from the store that wasn't on sale,so my mom didn't buy it....so, the next time we got a newspaper,I clipped and saved up coupons for our next grocery trip. I found many items on sale, that I wanted and had coupons for;I also had coupons for a lot of the items my mom had too. I have been couponing for 22 years now,and I've gotten my five kids into couponing too. I do buy a lot of organic fresh fruits and vegetables,but I clip and save many coupons because its just plain fun. I also like writing to many companies(especially organic)requesting coupons. Many times companies are glad to send you a booklet coupons. If couponing isn't for you,then I understand,but this Momma loves it and can't stop.

Guest's picture
Grant Parish

Because I don't have kids, pets, or eat much packaged food, I find that most coupons are for products I don't use.

If run across a coupon for something I use anyway, I'll grab it but I don't seek out or spend any time clipping. I shop at Costco and the saving on most all items they stock is better than going to my local grocery with coupons.

Guest's picture
Linda Lambert

Yes, I do! I get one newspaper,as a gift from my mom, but rarely does it have what I need, I don't buy stuff or get it unless it is almost free, unless it is what I need...I go online to get coupons for a handling fee, like Rebbecca's forms and coupons, The coupon clipper, or Coupon surfer and order from them, being a single mom with two kids on a very low income - plus I take my 80 something mom to shop, we save an average of %50 every week. You can find these sites by googling them and I check coupons against sales and expiration dates. Its a part time job, but I'd rather be here with my kids and did I say I have rescued a few animals, that eat on the cheap this way too. It stretches my income and there are room for treats too- sale+ double coupon = Free sometimes!
Why buy tooth paste when it goes on sale and there is .75 coupons doubled? Online you can get bunches and stockpile for when there are no sales.
These sites usually have the coupons to me within the week and have a vast array, you don't do the clipping they do! Easiest part time job in the world! They have everything! I have been doing it this way for years!

Guest's picture
MichaelM

When coupons come to my house, I flip through them to see if there is anything that we regularly use, or any fantastic deals on stuff we don't use as often.

As a result, we don't use many coupons. Besides, the amount of savings on name-brand things compared to the store-brand things we buy is minimal if it exists at all.

Guest's picture
Teaspoon

No, I don't clip coupons. I shop primarily at Kroger, and occasionally I will be given coupons at the checkout counter, which I will then use in subsequent trips. But that is about the extent of my coupon-clipping. I buy mostly generics, and it's hard to get coupons for those items anyhow, which are still typically cheaper than brand name items with a coupon.

Guest's picture
jbd

I struggle with this too- often I find that items bought with coupons combined with a sale still cost more than the off brand. other times that isn't the case. so do I spend time, clipping and hoping to be able to use the deal? sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. More often I don't. Plus, I find that most coupons are for high sugar, high processed food and I am trying to avoid those things. There are very few coupons for produce.

Guest's picture
Guest

I mostly buy staples like beans, flour...and get produce at the market. So I usually can't find a lot of useful coupons, so I kind of gave up trying. I usually get a check-out coupon for my coffee, though -- buy 2 bags for $1 or $2 off. Since I brand loyal to my coffee, that helps a lot. I'll buy the biggest bags they have and stick 1 in the freezer.

Guest's picture
Mick

And she is a extreme couponer. Just this weekend she went to CVS, spent over $29.00 and after all the coupons were entered the bill came to 84 cents. Which she paid with the store gift card from the previous weekend shopping trip there getting those deals. She routinely gets products where they are paying us take it. She can sometimes make anywhere from .01 to 2 bucks per item depending on the deal. Sometimes if an item is a little too junk foodie for us we drop that in the Food Shelf box on our way out. And with school supplies being offered for free with deals lately, whatever our kid dosn't need or use we have donated that stuff as well. I remeber a few years ago a grocery store in our area foolishly offered a double coupon day. We went in there spent well over $90.00 and I think at the end the bill was like $3.21. We still have that reciept, it's longer than my arm! Now they only offer double coupons on Wednesdays, and only the first 5 coupons, and you have to spend a minimum of $25.00. To this day I still think she's to blame for that!

Guest's picture
Natalie

I've recently started trying the clipping coupon route, but I just can't seem to get the same results as the pros that blog online about their free groceries. It almost has to be a full time job to see some major results. I can pretty much slash my bill by 25% just by purchasing the sale items, and for now, that's good enough for me :)

Guest's picture
David

To me coupons is another tool for impulsive shoppers. I know in the past I've thought to myself "oh this is on sale with this coupon, I'll buy it." It's actually not a great deal as stores already know in advance what coupons are coming out in circulation and price it in. A lot of times I'll clip the coupons I may need and just wait on using them. If I end up using them great, if not then it's not a big deal because a lot of these manufacture coupons will come around again. I know people get great deals like 20 free boxes of cereal, but I ask myself if I really need 20 boxes of free cereal.

Guest's picture
@nD

My wife really enjoys clipping coupons, and puts them to use all the time. For the past few weeks Kmart has been doubling manufacturer coupons up to $2 (found on cover of weekly ad), and my wife has been racking up the savings. To take it up a notch, Kmart has a Smart Rewards program that allows you to earn points from your purchases, and even offers a chance to win a prize during check out (notification prints on receipt). Combine all this, and we get lots of useful items at a very low price. Kmart is not the only place my wife saves money. When grocery shopping, my wife saves anywhere between $25-$50/month, and also carries a folder in her car w/those full page ads for those spontaneous stops at a fast food restaurant.

Guest's picture
Sarah

I vary between times of avid couponing to build the stockpile and taking a breather to use what we have. Currently, I'm not going gung-ho for every deay (we're pretty well stocked!), but am focusing on items that we really need and will use or are just too good to pass up (like the $25 in free Kraft groceries at Albertson's!).

Guest's picture
Kate

I clip coupons too, but like many others have said, I generally keep it to a reasonable level. I won't buy something I don't need just because I have a coupon - but I prevent that by only clipping coupons for products we'd genuinely have a use for. But if I don't have an opinion between brands, a coupon could sway me to purchase one brand over another. It doesn't take too much effort, and the savings are great.

Guest's picture
tlb

From spending hours in front of I Love Lucy licking green stamps for my mom (that dates me, I know) to being a young, broke bride to working 60 hour weeks running a company, I've run the gammit from adoring to abhorring the inocuous cents-off coupon.

Standing at the checkout watching $20.00 disappear from the grocery total is a near spiritual experience but spending a good part of Sunday afternoon clipping and filing, then (1) forgetting the coupon folder at home for several weeks, only to have the coupons expire when I finally get my act together or (2) leaving the folder in the baby seat of the grocery cart after loading the 12 bags of groceries (self-bagged) and speeding off -- clipping has also been a heartbreak ;)

I'm still on the fence about the true worth -- time expended vs dollars saved and will be interested in further comments here on WiseBread. I'm still skeptical after all these years of people that say they load a cart full of $300.00 worth of groceries and end up with the store owing them money after the final tally.

WiseBread keep up the good work!

Guest's picture
Kristen

I clip coupons for what I regularly buy. My main goal is to pay for the weekly subscription to the newspaper. My secondary goal is to save money on things were are already buying. I figure even if you get something for close to free but wouldn't have bought it without the coupons you are still spending money you wouldn't have spent.

Guest's picture
GT0163C

I'm an avid coupon clipper and it works well for me. I combine deals with sales and rarely have to pay for personal care products. I get snack foods, which I eat in moderation when life gets crazy, for around 25% or less of the regular grocery store price. It takes me a bit of time, but not a lot. I've developed a system that balances usability with ease of maintainability. It's not the prettiest of systems and I don't get all the deals, but it does save me a significant amount of money. And, by stockpiling things when I can, it also saves me time and hassle. I don't run out of personal care or paper products and rarely out of most food items. When I get extras of things I can't or won't use before they go bad, I donate them or pass them on to friends.
Couponing isn't for everyone, but it does work well for me.

Guest's picture
Colleen

I am an avid clipper...and now my husband is too. We purchase multiple papers on Sundays and have friends and family share their unused coupons. I also participate in a Coupon Train by mail. I stockpile any item we use regularly and free items that I won't use are donated. With two teenage boys at home, we can't save enough for college, school activities, etc. Couponing takes alot of time and commitment, but it helps pay for so many other things!

Guest's picture
Kat

Week after week I look at the coupons available in the newspaper and can't find a single thing that I usually buy. (Produce comes from a CSA, meat 1/8 of a cow at a time and bulk grains and staples) Last week, I saw a coupon for Kraft cheese - finally! When I got to the store, the store brand was cheaper than the Kraft - even with the coupon!

I live in an area that doesn't offer double coupons, which is a total bummer!

We're getting a dog soon, so hopefully I'll be able to use coupons for food and treats.

Guest's picture
Jessica

Yes, I try to use coupons whenever I can. I don't spend a lot of time at it but I usually find any time spent is more than worthwhile, whether it's grocery shopping or shopping online. We have a BJ's Warehouse Club near us & they provide store coupons to members, plus you can use manufacturer's coupons at the same time. Most of our groceries are meats, fresh produce, etc, but I use a lot of coupons for household items. I will still buy off-brand items if it's cheaper, so it just depends. I have to say that it gives me a little rush when I get a really good deal! To make it even more fun, when I get home from running errands I always add up how much I saved with coupons & immediately transfer that amount into our savings. It's very rewarding to see how much progress you can make towards a goal with just little bits at a time.

Guest's picture
Suzie

I am able to double coupons at our grocery stores and clip coupons for products I use. If I find an especially good coupon and sale on something I do not use, I will buy it for the Food Pantry. It makes my dollars go much farther, whether for myself or charity.

Guest's picture

I used to clip lots of coupons but in the interest of time, I now clip only for products I use (or seriously want to try), and only if I think I'll need them before the expiration date. Also, if I get a coupon (or two) for a product, I'll bypass any others I find for the next month or so.

I like clipping this way because I'm usually pretty aware of what coupons I have and have a general idea of when they'll expire. Lots less clutter!

Guest's picture
NMPatricia

Hmmmmmmm it seems like one could divide the comments (would never want to divide people!) into several categories. I am of the sort that I use them when they apply to something I want. But we use mostly unprocessed foods, so it is tough to get coupons for those items. LOL I try to find coupons (and yes, I puruse the Sunday paper) for stuff, but rarely has it made much of a difference. And I too have had my share of problems redeeming coupons. I have learned to go on line, but, too, my printer can get cranky trying to print coupons. Would love to be one of those who saves lots of money, but haven't been able to make it work for me.

Guest's picture
Guest

The time it takes to clip coupons is really not so much considering the savings, plus my kids like to help. all the free and nearly free stuff that I don't use or don't need more of we give to organizations that do need it.

Guest's picture
kimberly

No clipping - I buy things I don't need if I attach myself by clipping the coupon. I save the intact inserts and pull out what I need if I see a great deal matchup.

Guest's picture
Mary

I've been clipping for over a year now, and used to clip EVERYTHING. But I soon found that I was spending more time being a coupon fairy than actually shopping! Between buying the Sunday paper for the inserts and printing online coupons, I was losing $$.

So I scaled back. These days, I find printable coupons online and sign up for newsletters - but just for the products I regularly use. Then, I wait for sales on these items to max out the savings!

Guest's picture
bobthebunny

I don't typically clip coupons (because I don't get the newspaper), although some of my extended family does. So, I ask them to hold on to coupons for certain products that I use and they don't. I will also use coupons that come in or on a package of something I'm buying. Additionally, I make sure to sign up for coupons for free products if I see a link online. And I ALWAYS make sure to look for coupon codes for online purchases.

Guest's picture
Paige

I always clip coupons. It really helps out the grocery budget.

Guest's picture
Dory

I clip coupons pretty regularly. Most things I buy are either on sale, or I have a coupon for it. It really can make a difference.

Guest's picture
Alissa

I only use coupons for items I already plan to buy and once in a while as an excuse to try a new product. I know that coupons are another way to advertise a product, get you to buy items you don't really need, and I'm wary of deals like "55 cents off when you buy 2" unless I'm sure I'll use both items soon.

Guest's picture
Kristin

I print coupons from online sites like MyPoints (where I save money with the coupons AND earn points toward saving even more money), but I only print coupons for items that I actually use and buy regularly.

Guest's picture
Riptide

We go through the coupons for things that we need and generally can't make at home cheaper. At the store if the items aren't on sale, we don't get them. We also make sure that even if it's on sale and add the coupon that the store brand isn't cheaper.

Guest's picture
Blakely

I'm always on the look out for coupons. I buy a lot of toothpaste and like items for little or nothing with coupons. Coupons help me stretch my grocery budget each week.

Guest's picture

I love the savings you can get with coupons but I make sure to only clip coupons for those things that I would normally purchase. Then I wait for the item to reach the bottom of its sales cycle (usually a 2 for 1 sale) and scoop in to get a real bargain.

Interestingly at our website our informal survey showed that 50% of respondents use coupons sometimes, 42% use coupons always, and 8% never use coupons.

Guest's picture
Scott

In your post you say "apply it when and how it will fit my life" That is the secret to almost anything in life. Use coupons when it works for you and don't when it doesn't. If you value your time or hobbies more than clipping coupons then don't clip. Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich says making more money is more profitable than saving a few cents here and there. If you read Simple Dollar, Trent explains that every financial decision is a choice we make based on our own lifestyle needs. It makes sense for me to make my own home repairs where I've saved hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars but this may not be a wise choice for someone else. Apply what works for you, when it works for you and how it works for you.

Guest's picture
sbm

Nope. Don't buy papers; stores here don't accept printed online coupons; what I would save isn't worth the time or memory it would take to use them effectively.

Guest's picture
Justine

I have a tendency to clip coupons for a while and accumulate "stuff" and then go cold turkey for a while as I use up the accumulated goodness I've acquired.

Guest's picture
Jen

I do but only for things that I normally use. My grocery store doubles coupons, too. The few $$ I save makes me feel OK about spending money on the Sunday paper which I can read online for free.

Guest's picture
Kasey

I clip them if I have the time, but I don't have a good way to organize them so I tend to lose them.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Aldi. Their regular prices are about 30% less than the regular grocery stores, and the savings are the greatest on precisely those processed foods that you most commonly find coupons for. Of my total grocery bill, less than half is processed, "couponable" items. The rest is stuff like meat, milk, and produce, where you're not going to save any money anyhow. Even if I were able to get *all* couponable items for 50% off, every week, through coupons, I think it'd still come out to more than what I spend at Aldi, and it would cost me more time and effort, to boot.

I'd rather pay $1.79 for a box of cereal, than pay $3.79 minus a $1.00 coupon.

Guest's picture
Kristy

I hardly ever use coupons - but mostly because I hardly ever see coupons for things I buy. We don't have kids, so we don't spend money on much besides food and gas. We also try to buy the least-processed forms of food that we can, and coupons tend to be for things that come in boxes.

~Q

Guest's picture
BRB

I definitely do clip! Just this past weekend we saved $20 on new running shoes that my husband needed and $20 at a restaurant that we wanted a friend to try. That's enough proof for me!

Guest's picture
Jeremiah

I used to burn through cash like it was gas in an H1. Since getting married to a "dutch", aka frugal, gal, I have since changed my ways. We've always tried to spend as little as possible on groceries and such but haven't used coupons until a few months ago. We subscribed to an online coupon site and had great luck with it. Once we got the hang of it, we canceled our subscription (to save more cash) and simply work the system we learned and altered a bit. We follow these steps below.

1. Get a binder and some baseball card holders. You should be able to get these at Wal-Mart. We ended up getting a box of 100 off eBay.com.

2. Get the Sunday paper.

3. Cut out the coupons for the items we are likely to use. Regardless of brand. Brand loyalty will drain you of precious dollars.

4. Organize the coupons in the binder. use a page for each category. Some ways to do this is alphabetically by brand name or store name or type of food. Do what makes best sense for you and the way you think.

5. Look through the ads for the stores you go to and those that you don't but are near you. We look through the Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, CVS, and Walgreen's ads. Write down the items that look like good deals and then see if you have coupons for them. This will be a bit discouraging at first since most coupons won't get used for a few weeks. Give it some time though.

6. Maximize your coupons with store coupons when possible. Some stores have their own "coupon" program. For instance, CVS has Extra Care bucks. We've had great luck with these. They work like cash but have an expiration date. Certain sale items qualify for these coupons that you can use on future purchases.

7. Hit the stores weekly and buy only the items you would typically buy and that you have coupons for at first, if you don't know what the prices typically are. The only exceptions are items that never have coupons, like meat, produce, etc. If you know pork roast for $1.50 a pound is a good price, put it on your list.

8. Start a list of the items that you buy and the lowest prices that you get them for. This will allow you to make educated decisions on future purchases. We use a spreadsheet for this. To make it easy to look things up, we order them by item type, i.e. Dairy, Meat, etc., and then by item name, i.e. Apples, Eggs, etc.

This system has worked great for us. We've had a few bumps in the road, i.e. forgot a coupon or two, bought the wrong item, etc., but we've stuck with it, saved some dough, and tried some new stores, like CVS. Happy clipping.

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Rob O.

I definitely clip! I routinely save $7-12 on gorcery trips with coupons and I rarely allow them to tempt me into items I wouldn't have bought anyway.

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katie

I use online coupons and always google "(merchant or product) discount" or "(merchant or product) coupon" when I purchase anything online. I haven't had *much* luck with clipping, but I did get some cheap and tasty strawberries a couple of weeks ago with a coupon.

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Carole

Yes, I absolutely do use coupons, and I take them to the store in town that doubles the amount. What a savings it make.

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bluecanary81

I clip coupons. I save them. I sort them. I buy Sunday papers solely for the purpose of getting them. I sign up for free ones online. I buy coupon books from school kids. I match coupons to sales at stores. My 6-word obituary will be "I have a coupon for that."
That being said, I try to stick to coupons there's a chance I'll actually use, and I still compare prices when I get to the store. We don't do cereal, so $1 off three boxes of cheerios will get me nowhere. I do stock up when I get a good coupon and am able to match it to a good sale.
I <3 coupons.

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rbee

We have several sources for coupons and we save at least 5-8% each time we shop for groceries.

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Diasdiem

Subscribed to the Grocery Game to see what the good deals were. The whole thing didn't really work out for me. I tried getting a Sunday subscription to the news paper so I could get the coupons there, but for like the first month they didn't deliver it to my 2nd-floor apartment so I canceled. Which meant I had to buy a Sunday paper when I thought of it. Some weeks there was hardly anything in it I would use. Same thing for online coupons. I'm a little wary of installing random plugins just to print coupons, and some of these sites would only print one coupon per page, which is a huge waste of ink. And quite often I would buy things that, while I used them, I wouldn't have otherwise have bought if I hadn't had a coupon. In the end I think I save more just by stocking up when things are on sale, using the in-store coupons at HEB, and buying store brands instead of brand names for things I don't care about.

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katie

I use online coupons and always google "(merchant or product) discount" or "(merchant or product) coupon" when I purchase anything online. I haven't had *much* luck with clipping, but I did get some cheap and tasty strawberries a couple of weeks ago with a coupon.

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Angela

It's kind of hit or miss with grocery store coupons. Sometimes I get around to clipping them and sometimes not. Sometimes I can use them before they expire and sometimes not.

I do however try really hard to use my CVS extra bucks and Walgreens cashback (or whatever they call it).

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Jackie H

Being a mom of 3 (oldest just turned 5), I don't really have the time to clip coupons, organize them, and go through that whole system. Maybe when the kids get older. I used to do that for my family growing up, so I had a system....though I would have to admit it wasn't very efficient. Haha!

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D D

I will clip coupons if I see them in the mail but do not go out of my way to buy newspapers for them. I find myself searching online for coupons and printing them out more often than clipping anything.

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Sally

I clip coupons if I come across one for something I already buy; otherwise I don't.

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Teresa

For me, I've found myself going of in spurts...doing it intensely for awhile and then completely abondoning it later. It always seems to be an on again off again sort of thing with me.

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SMB

I clip, but ONLY if it's something I'd buy at full price anyway.

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jules

i don't use em - the places i shop (chinatown for groceries and dollar stores for household/personal) don't take them.

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Amy B

A girl I work with and I are firm believers that you should never have to pay full price on anything. A simple google search can get you a coupon/sale info on anything. I'll also admit that I even have an organizer for coupons I may use... yeah I'm a nerd.

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Fran K.

I only clip coupons on products that I use regularly. I put a higher value on coupons that are in the $.55 to $.99 range since they can be doubled at my local grocery stores. I very rarely clip coupons that require you to buy more than one of an item.

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KH

A digital folder that simply jot down the type of coupon and expiration date- and that would become a reminder to get me to one physical folder that I store coupons
I purge the folder once a month

This is the quick way without having to spend some much time organizing it!

Guest's picture

We were $50k in debt and after rethinking our philosophy about money we made the million dollar (pun intended) decision. We will live within our means and, actually live beneath our means so that we can not just get out, but stay out of debt forever. Coupons were a tool that freed money for us to pay off all debt, except our mortgage, in 3 years. I am so passionate about it that I blog too about deals and freebies, like Carrie who was mentioned in the post, but as a means not as an end. Keeping a few bottles of shampoo on hand means I kept the money in my pocket for them and can apply to more important things than shampoo. Okay, I will slowly back away from my soap box...

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bjs1109

Not that much. For one thing, there's almost never coupons for produce and cheese, so they're pretty much useless. Even for the few packaged/cleaning items I buy, I often find that even with a coupon and the item on sale, another brand or the store brand is still cheaper. And I've never seen a store in my area that doubles. So yeah - coupon clipping would be useless, time-wasting activity. Reading ads for sales, and watching for two-fers on store brands really pays off.

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Therese

I really try to just clip coupons for things that I already use, so I am not tempted to buy things just because I have a coupon.

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spaces

I'm not too much of a clipper. I tend to either cook from scratch, and buy in bulk or buy just ingredients, or go out. I do try to clip coupons for things like toiletries.

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Irene

I scan the coupon sites (like coupon.com) and when there is a coupon for something I buy, like Cheerios or Rice Krispies, I print out the coupons until the print limit is reached. Then when it goes on sale (the current trend is for items to go on sale for multiples, like 5 for $10), I stock up. My store doubles coupons up to $1.00 so occassionally I will save a large percentage of my grocery bill. I clip coupons knowing I won't use them all unless the item goes on sale.

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Patricia M Evans

I am a coupon crazy lady!
I use coupons every time I shop, and I just cringe when I see people paying for items at full price!
I don't pay for anything at full price anymore.
If I am at a grocery store and I forgot a coupon, I simply don't buy it until I have that coupon.
I'm obessed with finding the best deals!
I have walked out of Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Target and even fast food restaurants using coupons, their items on sale and double coupons without paying a cent.
woo-hooo!!!! Long live the coupon!!!

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Max

You know those people you hear about who get the six turkeys for free at Thanksgiving by working the store giveaways? Yes, I am that crazy. That said, I only buy stuff with coupons that I would buy for full-price, like toothpaste or soap. Sadly, most coupons these days are for over-packaged food products that I will never eat.

Here are my favorite tips:

1. Why buy the Sunday paper when you can get 8 coupon sections from the recycling bin in the garage of the apartment building down the street every weekend without even having to dig?

2. You can combine a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon for additional savings. For example CVS pharmacy runs a 50 cent coupon for Crest toothpaste in their sales circular. You can stack that with a 50 cent coupon Crest ran in the Sunday coupon section for a total savings of $1.

3. In California gift cards purchased with cash have no expiration date. Gift cards include coupons that offer you the full value of a particular item. So if you receive say, 36 "Redeem for a free half gallon of double-churned ice cream" coupons from your neighbor's recycling bin, well, that's 18 gallons of free ice cream you just got yourself that you don't have to store all at once.

4. If I can buy toiletry items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc) using coupons for a super low price (like less than 10 cents) I will buy as much as I can (even if it's not my brand) and donate those items to homeless shelters. My charity dollars go further and purchases stuff that's really needed.

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citygirl

I love clipping and using coupons and I've been doing it since college. The only newspaper I get is the Sunday paper, and I only get that if it's fat with couponery! I also got the Entertainment book for the first time this year that has local coupons in it for everything from grocery stores and museums to golf courses and restaurants. LOVE IT!!

Guest's picture

I am a clipper too! I clipped throughout college because not only was it a relaxing activity on a Sunday morning...but I was poor! Poverty level hasn't changed so when I am not traveling I clip for sure :-)

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pammybear101

Clipping coupons and getting stuff for free or almost free is my hobby. Many people have hobbies that cost money - mine saves me money. It's a win/win situation!

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Kelli

I've been a regular coupon clipper for years, long before this recent economic turbulence. The coupons are my favourite part of the Sunday paper! Why not get something for less if you can? I feel it's very much worth the time and "effort" it takes to find and clip coupons. My coupon usage has increased recently, especially thanks to the Internet. Now, before I go anywhere to buy anything, I always do a quick check online first to see if a coupon exists for whatever product or service and there usually are some! I use coupons or coupon codes both in brick and mortar stores and at online shopping sites. Even if it's "only" a few cents off here and there it really does add up!

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Jess

I use coupons in combination with sales to get food, hba, etc. cheap or free whenever possible. Like others, I tend to stick with staples, unprocessed food, lots of produce for my family, but my husband has a stubborn addiction to Honey Nut Cheerios and diet soda that I'd prefer to satisfy as inexpensively as possible.

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Dawn

I used to scour the internet for coupons and print and clip, but few stores now take internet coupons. If I see one in the paper for something I use, I'll clip it, but otherwise I don't go out of my way.

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Olivia

Most of our grocery shopping is done at the local bump and dent place. They don't take coupons. That said, coupons are a great way to get loss leaders in regular stores down to practically zero. The two regular supermarkets near us post online flyers, perfect for comparing prices. We use couponing in addition to other strategies: perimeter shopping; price book; seasonal foods; farm stands; growing our own; stockpiling; brand flexibility; making a list. It is a game, though a necessary one, and it all adds up.

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adelle

i do clip when i can. the problem of course is remembering to bring the coupons with me...its amazing how much one can save...

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Peggy

Like most posters, I use coupons mostly for toiletries and non-grocery items, but I don't go nuts about it. I carry them around and if I happen to see a sale for something I need then I check to see if I have a coupon.
No offense to the people who brag about spending zero dollars at hte supermarkets and stores, but I call bull. Do you not eat produce or fresh vegetables? There are never coupons for fruit or veggies (fresh, not frozen).

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Leigh

I have lost too much of my time trying to find coupons that I would actually use. (Time is money too!) Most of the coupons I find are for highly processed, non-nutritional foods that I should not be eating anyway. Even if I do find a coupon for Kraft Mac n Cheese, the generic brand is still cheaper and my son doesn't know the difference. Now if they start making coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables, especially locally grown, then I'll be all over them. In the meantime, taking advantage of my store's discount card and store brands saves me tons of money.

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Lauren

I love clipping coupons. Sunday is my favorite day of the week, where I can sit for awhile and clip and compare with the deals being offered. For me, it's something like a game of how little can I pay for something that I need.
The majority of the things I get are toiletries, soaps, toothpaste, feminine items and the like, but sometimes I am also able to combine sales at the grocery store on things like milk so I can make the most of my budget.
The best part is that a lot of the stuff I get is more that I need or my family can use, which allows me to donate it to local groups in need. This combines my love for a deal with the ability to help others in a concrete way.

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Joe

I clip and use regularly.