Frugal living is usually equated with coupon clipping. People often ask about my ‘extreme couponing techniques.’ Truth is: I don’t have any. I’m not a coupon user because I don’t think spending money to save money is sustainable.
Since September is National Coupon Month, here are…
4 Reasons to Shop Without Coupons
This is what I like to call ‘thoughtful spending’ – because while we do have to buy items, let’s think about our purchases and how they impact our health, the environment, and our wallets.
I find that largely, coupons aren’t worth using. If an item is available in the bulk section (Need tips for shopping in the bulk bin food section?) or as a generic store version, it’s usually less expensive than the coupon discounted price on name brands. Example: At the dentist recently, they offered me a ‘big’ coupon ($2 off) on fluoride rinse. I declined because I know the store brand is half the cost of the name brand – without a coupon.
There’s real value in using a coupon on an item that you or your family truly uses. Stocking up and buying more than is actually needed is wasteful – plus see #4 below. Yes, I’m all for a deal – on items you need and use.
Most coupons are only offered on processed, pre-packaged foods that aren’t healthy. Unless stores and companies are offering coupons on wholesome, real foods, I pass. If the coupon circular of the Sunday newspaper had coupons for organic apples or broccoli or red peppers, I’d clip those! (I do receive an email newsletter from Earthbound Farm’s – Organic Bound. Their coupons arrive in my email in-box. Coupons for fresh greens and frozen fruits? Yes, please!)
It’s time consuming to keep track of coupons and for my time, even if the coupon makes it close on price; it’s more of a hassle. Knowing prices and whether something is a good deal or not is more important. Shopping at warehouse stores or buying lots of an item isn’t always the best price. Shopping at a store that is no frills and offers healthy foods at a good price is where I want to spend my time – and not driving all over town for one item to save .35 cents.
Do we really want to use our homes for storing items we bought in bulk or on sale? Stock-piling household goods and storing products may be good for the companies who’ve sold us these items but is it a smart use of space inside our homes?
I have stocked up on items – plastic wrap, water pitcher filters, tissue, etc. – and stored them in our basement only to buy them again because I forgot we had them. After getting burned by this a few times, I stopped buying items that had to be stored outside of the kitchen or pantry and only purchase items we need. We need to remind ourselves that it’s okay to run out of an item and stop stock-piling.
There’s nothing wrong with clipping coupons. I recently clipped a few for my kiddos who are teenagers. They use particular brands of body care products (think name brand here) and buy those items for themselves. I happily clipped and passed those coupons on. The concept of spending money to save it doesn’t compute for me – or my budget. I’d rather spend less – and go on a fabulous trip – or add to my savings account.
Does using coupons compute for you? Do you have a secret source of healthy coupons to share?
Go Gingham related links:
Strategic frugality: our life approach to living and time as a luxury
How to save money each month
Frugal grocery shopping – Tips to save money, resources and time
Shopping: bulk bins – Tips for shopping from the bulk bins
11 reasons to meal plan every week – It’s a big time food budget saver!