My Kind Of Coupons

Coupons have always been a little mysterious to me. When I think of coupons I think of a long envelope style plastic binder with separators in it and bunches of little pieces of paper organized by category.

Like this one. Yes! Just like this one:

I think about sitting on the floor tearing along the perforated lines ripping out the little pieces of colored newsprint paper. Oh, and it would start on a Sunday morning and last all day.

Yes.

ALL DAY.

I seem to have some semi-suppressed childhood memories bubbling up.

The whole coupon acquistion process seems to take a VERY long time for not that big of result. I see the end result as: me with a bunch of name brand items I wouldn’t normally buy and maybe 25¢ off the one thing I normally would buy.

With coupons my “Time or Money” philosophy comes to mind. If you’re not familiar with my “Time or Money” philosophy it just means: you’re gonna pay for it with your time if not your money or your money if not your time. So you have to decide which one you wanna spend because you’re gonna be paying one or the other.

After seeing all sorts of buzz on Twitter last night about this show called Extreme Couponing (youtubed it since we only have the most basic of basic cable – so we can get clear reception – and we don’t get that channel) can only make me assume that my past couponing technique has been all wrong.

That show looks INTENSE. If I was gonna coupon I think that’s the kind of couponing I could really get behind.

You know, since moderation isn’t really my thing. Have you noticed?

Do you use coupons? Do you think coupons are worth the trouble? How do you manage them? What’s the most you’ve ever saved? What do you think about this show? Did you see it?

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com

24 comments

24 thoughts on “My Kind Of Coupons

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  1. Laura

    I'm actually watching the show this morning off the DVR. A bit sickening, but some of these people were hit hard by the recession, so somewhat understandable. I find it interesting to see the ads for "Extreme Couponing" next to ads for "Hoarding". Both are reactions to the same feeling of not having enough, I think.

    Which brings me to, Yes, I use coupons if they are for something I know I'll buy anyway.

    1) Bed Bath and Beyond honors even expired "20% off one item" coupons, so I usually have a few of those in a kitchen drawer for when I need new $10 headphones or a wedding gift off someone's registry.

    2)Did you know some of your PRESCRIPTION drugs have coupons? They're called "customer appreciation" coupons. In general, if you are using a non-generic drug, you can go to that drug's website and print off a coupon that lowers your co-pay for the drug to $5 or free (instead of $20 for a non-generic). Granted, it's only for a few months, but I've gotten my asthma inhaler for free a few times, and I know my mother has gotten some lower-cost tamoxifen or other post-cancer drugs for a reduced rate. All you have to do is print off the coupon and then turn it in to the pharmacist when you go to pick up your filled prescription. So easy.

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  2. Sarah M

    Coupons were a love/hate relationship, but when I got married last August and we suddenly had three children full-time, that makes a huge difference. We had always had two kids part-time and one child about 3/4 time, but we only had to pack a lunch for one of the kids (the 3/4 kid). Suddenly, three lunches, five times a week, plus three breakfasts, five times a week, and now, it's way too expensive to eat out with five people, so five dinners, seven times a week. . . people are either going to get really skinny b/c there isn't any food, or you have to make some changes. One saving grace was that now I had access to the commissary. . . major savings there with or without coupons.

    I watched the first episode of Extreme Couponing whenever it came on. . . .my first reaction. . . WOW!! That is amazing. . . albeit a reality show, there is some hype, but it does inspire. I started using more coupons to save a few cents here and there, but it was still expensive. I couldn't get the results my friends were getting and posting on facebook. Roll around to January and my house was down to two people b/c my husband deployed and his two went to live with their mom in another state. Now there is just me and my son (the 3/4 kid). I started looking at local coupon blogs, they offer match ups on their sites so the "dirty work" is done. Then I found a coupon class. . . yes, I paid $10 to learn to use coupons. With my busy life, sitting down to learn on my own just wasn't an option. I had tried and only saved a few bucks. So to pay a small price to have it spoon-fed to me . . BINGO!!! The class was amazing. It focused on local stores and how to maximize your deals.

    Now, when Wednesday rolls around, I look at the match ups, if there is something I use, I pull my coupons out and go and get it. The rule here is I only get it if it's a) something we use on a regular basis or b) free and I have been wanting to try it or I know someone else who uses it. You have to limit yourself to the items you use. If not you will go crazy running around and spend more of that precious time on stupid stuff. I go to two stores, b/c those are the ones that are close. If they don't have it, oh well. If it's something that I really need that week, then I will go to one more store, but only if I pass it on my way to somewhere else. The sales all run in cycles, so good news! IT WILL BE ON SALE AGAIN!! I wish everyone would acknowledge that and leave some for the rest of us.

    I use coupons wherever I can, this includes Groupons, Daily Deal websites, etc. We saved a lot of money at Christmas (we have to buy for nearly 60 people) by using Groupons and coupons and getting up at strange hours for the deals.

    It's overwhelming when you first get started, but it really doesn't take all day. The very first time I did it, it took me about two hours and that included going to the store to get my binder, baseball card pockets, etc. After that, it was just a filing job, so I caught up on DVR and ate chinese food while I did it.

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  3. Jen

    I think one of the things that I really had to look at (as I watched the majority of the program going, it's hoarders all over again, but it's with useful stuff that can be broken down by the human body, and by the toilet, etc.) is yes they have bought $650 for $2.99 or whatever but it gets to the point where they have it and have no immediate need for it so it becomes "food storage" in the case of a huge natural disaster will those people who have a lot of the necessary items "SHARE THE LOAD" I understand the second girl in the program saw that she could "extend" her money because she didn't have a lot of money, and yes it's gone to the extreme because now she buys everything by the cart load. Food expires eventually and the money that she did save for the "FREE" or $0.50 cent box of pasta will be eventually wasted money, and time.

    As important as food storage is. There is excessiveness. The compulsive need to "shop" and know that you've bought $600+ for $2.99 it's not always the best way to go.

    The thing that I would consider if I coupon-ed like that would be how much do I need to provide for my family, and how much of it can I use for food storage, and how much I can help my community, my church, my neighbours, the homeless, etc.

    sorry that was a blog post in itself.

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  4. anna newell jones

    laura, i was thinking more about the line in your comment that said "I find it interesting to see the ads for 'Extreme Couponing' next to ads for 'Hoarding'. Both are reactions to the same feeling of not having enough, I think." i have to tell you that i could not agree more. it seems that there is a lot of fear in both of those show concepts. not fear of like a monster or something but a fear of not having enough. that fear thrives and manifests in these ways of: extreme couponing and hoarders. so glad you brought that up.

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  5. Katie

    I have seen the ads for this show! They have these ginormous shopping carts filled to the brim, like they're going into the Biosphere or something. My immediate reaction is to be super impressed at their mad saving skillz. But I would imagine that the majority of the perishable products they buy go to waste, unless they have 20 children. I was brought up to feel so guilty for throwing food away. Nowadays I even feel guilty for throwing away the end pieces of bread loafs! But maybe they have the storage capacity to keep everything for longer periods. I totally agree with the above comments though- food hoarding probably results from the same emotional reactions as hoarding other objects.

    I like those Groupon things though! My friends and I have started giving those as birthday presents. Sometimes they have really amazing deals on things we wouldn't normally buy ourselves, like spending $20 for $60 at a nice hair salon, or 2-for-1 tickets to a play. You have to keep your eyes peeled but they have nice things every once in a while. :)

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  6. Chelle

    Can someone tell me what Groupon is or are?

    My husband does coupon clipping out of the weekly insert, but NOTHING like this. He usually shops the store's sale with coupons and gets pretty lucky and saves about $40 a week with their sales and the coupons he clips. He's a much better shopper than I am because he plans ahead and doesn't go off the list.

    I had heard of the show and didn't know which channel it was on or when. I agree after watching the clip you posted that it seems an awful lot like the same mindset as "Hoarding" and these people are pretty much devoting ALL of their time to getting those groceries for nothing. It definitely is the time vs. money argument. I think I'd like to get a little more value out of coupons and would love suggestions for websites.

    I have, by the way, used a prescription coupon and gotten the drug for $15 instead of the $40 copay, even though the coupon I got was expired. They are still honoring it and it lasts for four months. So those are well worth checking out.

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  7. anna newell jones

    jen, the line in your comment "Food expires eventually and the money that she did save for the "FREE" or $0.50 cent box of pasta will be eventually wasted money, and time." really drives home the point- what is it all for? how do you make it worth it for you? how do you consume all of it and it really makes me think "how do i REALLY want to spend the hours of my life?"

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  8. Katie

    Hi Chelle,

    Groupon is this cool thing where you enter the name of your city, and they will send you daily email offers from businesses and restaurants in your area. If you are interested in that day's offer, you just "purchase" the coupon and then go to that business or restaurant to redeem it. For example, sometimes they have a restaurant deal that's like, $15 for $30 worth of food and drinks. So you end up saving $15 on a night out on the town! They don't have coupons for everyday, essential things, but rather those every-once-in-a-while kind of things, when you feel like treating yourself or a friend. :)

    Their site is http://www.groupon.com.

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  9. anna newell jones

    hi chelle, it's http://www.groupon.com – they're basically they are coupons for groups.

    below ithis is from their site on how it works:

    Get It: Check your email, Facebook or Twitter feeds for daily deals on cool local businesses.
    Share It: Groupons are more fun when used with friends. Pass along deals by email or broadcast them to your social networks.
    Enjoy It: Print the voucher or bring it up on your mobile device, then present it at the business to get your deal

    Reply
  10. Aubrey

    I totally agree with the emotional similarities between Hoarders and Extreme Couponing. Both groups suffer from a fear of losing what they have, and they are both choosing ways to control what makes them afraid. Neither way seems very practical to me, but I've never been where they have (you know, emotionally).

    As far as coupons for me go, I only use coupons for stuff I already buy. It turns out that I pretty much only use coupons at Papa Murphy's. mmmmmm Take 'n' Bake, baby.

    Also, I got a coupon in the mail for $5 off the thrift store I go to all the time! Score! I love restoring furniture, so I kind of squeaked a little when I got it. The End.

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  11. Connie

    If you coupon and have a food bank to donate the extras to, and you itemize on your tax return you can get a receipt and turn your Hobby into a tax deduction.

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  12. Connie

    I would point out that the extreme couponer gets an adrenaline rush out of the final check out. It's like a game to see if you can beat the system, which they do. I would compare it more to gambling than to hoarding. The hoarders never have such neat well organized homes. Theirs are disasters you can't even walk through. Whereas the couponers homes are very organized. It also can be said they are spending their time but we are spending our time watching them which seems to me to be even a bigger waste of time.

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  13. marianney | A Life Set Free

    30 hours a week couponing??? Are these people for real?? Sorry, but my time is worth way more than that. I am like the rest of the commenters, I use coupons for things I already buy, like the Vitamin World coupon i get in the mail for a couple of bucks off or 50% off my expensive supplements. Totally makes it worth it. I also keep a couple of Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and always get my wedding presents there with the coupon. I have also gotten some prescription coupons recently from my doctor, but I didn't know about them before or that you could get coupons online, Thanks for tip Laura!

    I used to clip coupons from the Sunday paper for groceries years ago, but they always seemed to expire before I could use them, so that was wasted time clipping and organizing them all. Not to mention you have to actually have a newspaper subscription to get the coupons as they aren't included anymore in the ones you buy off the stand.

    The biggest reason I never used the coupons was bc it was for brand names and products I don't normally buy, so am I really saving anything?? Also, the price for a brand name item with the coupon is usually STILL more expensive than the normal price of the generic stuff. Nowadays, I buy healthy and organic food and there are almost never coupons for that stuff. Oh well, for me, the higher cost of organic foods counteracts the future costs of medical bills when I would get illnesses from eating crap food and not taking care of myself.

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  14. Stephanie

    I only ever use the coupons that are printed out at the register or sent directly to me by the grocery store. The coupons are usually for something I buy anyway (which the store knows because they scan my rewards card every time). I haven't gone out of my way for coupons. I agree, the hassle of getting a quarter off of something you wouldn't actually buy doesn't seem worth it.
    I too remember those glossy coupons that came in the Sunday paper. I don't think I could be as organized with them as the people on the show, or even the people who use those nice coupon folders!

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  15. D.Rosenquist

    The thing that sucks is the Sunday paper cost $2, and I'm only saving $1 on a box of tampons! Ah! Actually, I might have used one other coupon to try a new product. Usually, I only look for coupons of things I KNOW I will buy and will use. Like tampons. :)

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  16. Chelsea

    I've clipped coupons for about 2 years. My husband and I are both college students and like you, are trying to get out of debt. I don't keep a large supply of items in my home, because we have a one bedroom apartment. I dedicate 10% of our grocery budget to stocking up on items that we are always using -canned veggies, toiletries, drygoods, frozen meat, cheese, cleaning supplies, etc. I have a small kitchen, so when the pantry is full, I stop buying. I have two shelves in my linen closet that hold our extra toiltires and one shelf for extra cleaning supplies.

    When I buy things with coupons I usually get a 50-75% discount. A lot of times people say they don't clip coupons because so many of them are for junk food, which is true. I personally don't buy those things, and still find plenty of ways to save on basic whole foods. I try to save on the processed foods we do buy, like cereal, and household goods so that there is more room in my budget for things like produce and lean meats.

    I also shop at a food co-op in my city which has amazing prices on many variaties of cheese and other dairy products and buy a monthly basket of fruit and produce from another local food co-op ($10 for about 4-5lbs). Most food co-ops are able to give great prices on food buy buying in bulk and because they are non-profit. The co-ops that I shop at ask that you do about 2 hours of service per month to give back for your savings- which is an idea that I fully support. I do my service hours at a local alternative high school. If you are interested in eating local, CSA's are also great, but usually cost more and require a long term monetary commitment (such as a growing season).

    One of the best articles that I have read about clipping coupons is found here. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/earn-100-dollars-an-hour-clipping-coupons.aspx

    I highly recommend reading it to get a better understanding about less extreme couponing. With a reasonable investment of time (I do about 45 mins per week) you really can save large amounts on your groceries.

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  17. Allie

    I have to be careful with coupons. Sometimes knowing I have 25% off to World Market just helps me rationalize a trip to that store I might not otherwise have made.

    But for those of you interested – you don't necessarily need to buy the paper to get coupons, you can print them off from website (such as coupons.com) or product websites. Also a good idea to check websites of stores before heading out the door. I frequent outlet malls more often than regular stores and a lot of the larger outlet chains (Tanger, Simon, etc) have coupons you can print off on their websites as well.

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  18. clint

    I'm late to this party, but my two cents:

    I clip the coupons from the Sunday paper. I used to clip a bunch of stuff I really didn't need after reading about these moms who basically walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of goods and a 17-cent bill. I never got there, and I've stopped trying. But I do clip for things I use or may use, then use them when I'm out or when I can combine with a great sale and, better yet, a great sale and special coupon offer (like supper doubling of coupons up to $1.99 face value, for instance).

    I subscribe to Groupon and the local deal of the day that comes out around here, but I've yet to buy anything. I think that could become a trap for people trying to save. They could end up buying things they don't need just because it's a deal.

    All told, it really doesn't take much time to do either.

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  19. Chelle

    Just discovered that the coupons at http://www.yourrxdiscount.com are not valid if you already have insurance. So that was an hour of my time wasted, but valuable knowledge to have. I was hoping to get an additional discount off of my copay, since a couple of my prescriptions are $40 per month. I do have one discount card from one drug manufacturer that I got in the original samples from the doctor. It allows me to get what would be a $40 copay drug for $15 for four months. But after that, it's back to $40.

    What I have found in the little amount of time I've spent on coupon sites that I am searching a lot of websites for coupons for things we buy and not finding the right coupons. All of a sudden, I realize I've been manically searching for an hour or more. I think clipping the coupons from the insert in the paper and pairing it with the grocery store's sale is a much better use of time. I don't know how these extreme couponers are doing it. Maybe I need to watch the show once. But if they are spending 30 hours a week on it, that's a full time job and I already have a couple of those!

    The other thing I like is when I get a discount coupon from a store where I have to spend money anyway. I recently got a coupon for $10.50 at CVS, where I shop about every other week. It was good for anything but prescriptions and I was able to use it on stuff I was going to buy anyway, so I highly recommend the CVS card if you shop there often.

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