Clipping Coupons: Do You? How Much Do You Save?

So - I used to be a coupon queen and then I fell out of the habit. But I’ve decided to get back on the coupon-clipping train.

This weekend I moved in to my new place and needed a lot of starter supplies - so I spent about $110 - and saved over $10 in coupons.

I’ve also handed my bf a few coupons he could use - and he’s been pretty happy about saving a few dollars here and there.

What about you? Do you actively clip/use coupons? Is this a new habit developed from the economy? Or this is something you’ve always done?

Got any good coupon tips?

I never have, but I’m curious. Does this actually save money, or does it convince you to buy stuff you otherwise would not?

We save between $2 and $5 per trip, but we save a lot more by planning our menu around what is on sale. We never buy anything we don’t usually use just because there is a coupon, but might buy ahead if one is expiring. The real way to save is to stock up when things are cheap - when Starbucks coffee is $5.99 a bag, we buy enough to last until the next sale.

For me, I only clip coupons for things I want/need or stuff I am interested in trying. Sometimes it’s a brand I use all the time - so it’s a definite savings. Sometimes it seems like the grocery store will run a special within a week or two of the coupon - so if I am savvy, I save twice.

Obviously, part of the appeal for advertisers to offer coupons is for us to try something we might not normally. And sometimes it’s worth it to try something out. But I don’t buy something just because I have a coupon - I tend to compare more than just price.

For me, savings is a combination of type of store, product price, size & value, and coupon.

The thing is to know what you actually need (making a list) and THEN seeing what coupons you have that go with that.

I don’t in general. Borders gives me coupons and if I remember I take them along, but mostly I can’t be bothered.

There’s some evidence that people fall into three different shopping styles, only one of which uses coupons much at all. The group that tends to spend the least is not the group that uses all the coupons.

The group that does spend the least (the Carefrees) also tends to go to the store the fewest number of times per week. I wonder if minimizing trips to the store might be more important than clipping coupons or comparison shopping or planning ahead what to buy in saving money at the grocery store.

I’m a Carefree shopper, and don’t use coupons. I minimize my trips to the grocery store, and when I’m there try to stay as short a time as possible, because I’m lazy and don’t really like grocery shopping. I wonder if I’d save money if I did try to clip coupons, or make myself unhappy while spending more.

I do this.

Anne, do you find that you eat out more because you shop less? Do you tend to cook the majority of your meals at home? Just curious.

Part of my clipping & planning is because I’m trying to change my habit of just eating out for lunch & dinner or defaulting to frozen dinners. I figure if I start planning more meals and using coupons, I can save money while eating healthier.

I tend to just shop 1-2 times a week (once at Trader Joe’s where I can get most of my gluten-free stuff and once at a ‘regular’ grocery store.)

I don’t usually bother, since I don’t buy much in the way of processed foods for which one can get coupons. If they gave vegetable coupons, I’d be all over those.

Well, I guess the idea of the coupon is to push stuff, but only foolish people fall for that.

Anyway, we clip coupons for the things we want, wait for them to go on sale, and then buy them for even less.

I hate it, when ever I come across “Money Saving Tips” , and it proceeds to list things I already do.

I also hate that every now and then, one person who is the “Get” for the story takes 100 dollars plus in groceries and works it down to like 2 pennies.

As if that happens all the time.

For me, its not worth it. Then again, I buy the store / private label brand whenever I can.

I use coupons whenever I can - even if you guys who claim you always “buy vegetables”, presumably you’re not boiling them and chowing down plain. Presumably you’re sautéing them in oil, dressing them in something, spicing them with something, etc. Unless you live in a major city, you’re buying frozen veggies in the winter, packaged pastas or starches of some sort, etc. All of these things have coupons for them. As for the “buying stuff you normally wouldn’t”, coupons get me to try all sorts of stuff that I now buy regularly that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Now I routinely buy Larabars and Fiber 1 bars, when I previously was buying less tasty alternatives.

I shop mainly according to the store circular, and do coupons for yogurt, and lots for toiletries - just this week, $3 off contact solution. For months there was one by Marcal, a new “green” paper towel/toilet paper maker that was for a FREE (no purchase necessary) roll of TP or box of tissues. Now, they felt like shit on my face, and we used them as napkins, but c’mon, I mean, how can you NOT. I’ve noticed that in the recession coupons have gotten weaker and weaker.

I go to the store 2x a week. For fresh veggies, eggs, and milk, 2x/week is minimum. I do not get the advice to go longer without going to the store; I barely throw food away, so it seems counterintuitive.

melody, as far as breaking the habit, the biggest thing you can do is plan for the whole week ahead. If you know what you’re having for dinner tonight, to a T, you’re very unlikely to go out often. It won’t be 0 if you love to eat out, and don’t berate yourself if it’s not - tonight we went to our favorite little diner because we felt like it, even with the meal plan on a stickey note since Sunday night - but it’ll vastly improve overall.

Household cleaning stuff, laundry supplies and toiletries are where I score best with coupons. Casually playing the drugstore game with coupons means I have an entire closet shelf full of free shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, razors, body washes, etc.

I enjoy the thrill of the good deal, it’s a hobby for me. Figuring out what to do with grocery items that I get super cheap actually helps keep me out of the same old dinners in rotation rut.

It helps if your family isn’t hugely brand loyal, of course, but even if you are; why not clip coupons just for those brands you always buy?

I clip a lot of coupons, but tend to throw away a lot, too. The rule is, be careful with coupons and only buy with them what you were already going to buy. As others have noted, too, only use coupons for stuff that’s already on sale; the products that show up in the coupon circulars are the brand names that sell for a higher price. It rarely makes sense to buy them even with a coupon, if they’re not on sale, because there is usually a store brand alternative that is still cheaper than the name brand w/coupon.

That’s how it is with supermarket coupons. On the other hand, coupons for restaurants can be a very good deal, especially if you want to patronize that restaurant to begin with. I never buy pizza without a coupon, for instance. You can really stretch your food dollars if you use restaurant coupons. This is especially true if it’s you and someone else getting the food; most places do stuff like ‘1/2 off a second meal’ or some such thing. It can make a big difference on your bill.

That’s my take on it. Actual cash value of this post: 1/50th of a cent. Do not double.

I’ve dipped my foot into couponing a few times, but I never saw it make a significant enough dent in my wallet to justify continuing. There’s only 2 of us; we do a major monthly run at Costco and supplement it with perishables/fruit/veggies. We seldom use name brands.

If I had more mouths to feed, it might make a difference, I don’t know.

Oh, and stores around here don’t accept internet coupons. I’m not going to pay almost $5 for a Sunday paper either.

I never do it. Just can’t be bothered, honestly. And I also tend to eat out quite a lot.

I almost never eat breakfast out (that would require getting dressed before breakfast), eat lunch out when I’m at work, and usually don’t eat dinner out. This is because I’m not organized enough to remember to pack a lunch.

I’m trying to do some more meal planning, too. But not really the kind that coupons would help that much with. I’m trying to get us to eat more vegetables cooked from scratch, and there aren’t coupons for those AFAIK.

I’m not understanding “unless you live in a major city.” I live in a very small town, and very rarely buy frozen veggies because there’s always a supply of fresh veggies available. Some things go in and out of season, but things like carrots, onions, etc are always available fresh and tasty.

As far as what I do, I’ve tried to clip coupons before, but they very rarely correspond to the food I want to buy. Most of my shopping is done in the veggy, meat, and dairy section - stuff that rarely has coupons associated with them. They do go on sale in the store, and I’ll sometimes take advantage of that.

For dry goods, coupon items always seem to be stuff I don’t buy. lindsaybluth mentioned contact solution - I use that, but I buy the Target brand, which I’ve rarely seen a coupon for. The name-brand stuff, even with a coupon, is more expensive than the Target brand.

Food items like oils and pasta and all that, same thing - I rarely or never see coupons for the brands I like. Somethings I go store brand, so they rarely get coupons. If I’m not buying store brand, I’m usually buying the high end versions (Italian Pasta, Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the big can, etc) and I never see coupons for those, either.

So I don’t clip coupons. Every time I try, I either end up buying stuff I don’t normally buy, or I spend a half hour carefully going through the coupons and come up with 25 cents of saving for the 30 minutes I just wasted. Not worth it to me.

As mentioned above, if you’re not fussy about brands, and if you can resist the “But I’ve got a coupon!” trickery to buy something you normally don’t buy, you can do well.

We save enough with the Sunday coupons to pay for the newspaper subscription. If you read the paper, and if you buy groceries, why not save a little?

On double or triple coupon weekends I’ve managed to shave $10-$15 off of a $90 grocery bill, but $3-$5 is the norm on regular weeks.
I use them mainly for stuff I’d buy anyway, though once in a while I’ll get something, like frozen White Castle burgers (the only way to get them around here) or State Fair corndogs, just because I have a coupon for them.
I too have wondered about those people you sometimes see on the news who manage to shave their $100 grocery bill down to 5 cents or some ridiculously low amount.

I have to say, back in the hey day of triple coupons, I have sometimes walked out with change back. I remember once buying a bottle of mustard where they ended up owing me $0.49.