Practical ways to live better on less.
I am not a fan of couponing, nor the emphasis that so many financial experts place on this overrated money-saving tactic. There are so many more effective means to save & cut down on your expenses. In my experience, couponing has a very low return on investment, especially when you account for the amount of work involved. I have listed my top 7 reasons why couponing harms more than it helps.
Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Couponing
1. Couponing forces you to buy items you don’t need. Too many people tend to buy items just because there is a coupon available. Does this mean that the product is higher quality? healthier? The answer is no! In fact, usually it is the exact opposite. Most healthy items rarely ever go on sale. If a item is on sale, there is usually some reason behind the “deal.”
2. Couponing wastes a lot of time. The time spend searching & cutting out coupons versus the savings (usually a very small number) just isn’t worth the effort. You could literally spend hours each day searching through flyers and online websites. You should really focus on earning more money versus trying to save a few dollars. You could use the time you spend couponing on a part time job.
We have all seen reality TV programs such as “Extreme Couponing” where the actor saves hundreds of dollars at the register. However, this is the exception. And, you have to wonder how much time they gave up to save that amount of money? And even worse how much junk is loaded in their cart?
3. Couponing leads you into a pattern of shopping for deals, not health. You should be buying mostly produce, and other perishable items that aren’t available by coupon. Coupons tend to be available mostly on processed, boxed, and canned goods. You might be saving a tiny amount of extra money, but at what future cost? Remember that eating healthy now will save you money in the future!
4. Couponing fanatics often end up with expired items. I have seen TV shows where people have pantries stacked with dozens of bottles/cans of a good. Are they really going to use all those before the expiration date? Yes, canned & boxed goods last longer than perishable items, but they still have expiration dates. Also, you are losing your day-day disposable income for the upfront cost of storing items that will likely expire and end up in the trash.
5. Coupons do not always provide the best deals. Often coupons are available for name brand products, which still come out to a higher price than the generic versions. Most testers agree that the difference in quality between name brand and generic is small, or in most cases, non existent. Generic products are offered at a fraction of the cost (no coupon required, no time lost) – check to see if the coupon for the name brand really saves you more.
6. Couponing often becomes an obsession. For many, couponing becomes a rush that is no longer just about finding deals, but more a full time obsession. There are many more useful things to do with your time. Why not spend the extra time turning a hobby into a paid side job? At least you will be getting something out of your time. An enormous amount of time is spent clipping from newspapers, searching online coupon sites, sitting in traffic, standing in check out lanes, and putting away stockpiles of groceries. Remember, time is money.
7. It costs time and money to coupon. Think about the gas you would need to drive around to all these different stores. With gas prices as high as they are today, you probably aren’t getting as much of a deal as you thought. You would save more by sticking to one store. What about the money spent on newspapers, printer ink, & endless shopping excursions for unnecessary items? Couponing as a hobby can be rather expensive.
There is a difference between heading to your favorite store for the day and quickly checking the website to see if a coupon is available. This is not an obsession – you already intended on visiting the store, and you are not just clipping out any old coupon just to save money.
Do you really want to sacrifice something as important as your health? Buy what you need for the week from the store, whether there is a coupon or not. Don’t change your dietary habits based on a coupon. If you are going to coupon, do so moderately and only if you truly intended on buying the item. Don’t ever buy just based on a sale. And stick to just one store to cut down your driving time and stress level!
What are your thoughts on couponing? Is it a waste of time compared to the small monetary gain?