Are we Crazy for using Coupons?

Since we started using coupons a few years ago we have totaled more than $100,000 in savings. Sure we’ve lost some receipts, but the point is that Couponing has allowed us to spend waaay less than the average family, while obtaining name brand grocery items, toiletries, and Health and Beauty products. Couponing has made it possible for us to give and donate like never before, which in turn gives us great joy. Yet, when we talk with other people about Couponing and how we achieve such great savings… well, we get looked at like we belong in the looney bin.

Most people we talk to seem interested in couponing UNTIL we give them some details. For instance, the moment we say that we buy 20 newspapers a week, that’s when their eyes start to glaze over and we’ve lost them. They cannot imagine themselves buying 20 papers a week.. so it’s CRAZY for US to do it right? When we tell them that we research deals on the internet, they imagine spending hours in front of the computer staring at numbers, then they promptly claim “Nope… not me… too much time!”

Based on all these reactions, I started asking myself “are we crazy for using Coupons?”

It would be absolutely crazy to waste time and money if we were not getting SOMETHING out of it right? So I decided to calculate the costs vs benefits of our couponing endeavors to find out if it was really worth all the effort. Here’s what I came up with in terms of money and time:

Money:

So exactly how much money do we pay out in order to do the couponing we do? What are our monthly expenses relating to couponing?

  • Newspapers – $42.02 per week to buy 20 newspapers. We always get 20 so that when a good sale/coupon combo comes along, we can get enough good deals to last until the next sale. ($168.08 a month)
  • Printer Paper – We get all our printer paper at Staples when they have a rebate promotion. Usually it’s $4.99 for a ream of paper and a rebate makes it free. Other times we get $3.99 rebate back so our net cost per ream of paper is less than a buck. (Less than $5 a month)
  • Printer Ink – We use HP-60 Black Cartridges which cost between $11-$14 each for about 250 printed pages. We probably change the cartridge once a week. ($60 a month)
  • Gas – We fill up out tank about 2-3 times a month, not all of that is coupon shopping. So I’m going to estimate half of our gas is used for that purpose. ($100 a month)

So that’s about $333 a month for our expenses related to couponing. Is that Crazy?

Time:

Here’s a breakdown of how long it takes to do our coupon related activities.

  • Organizing Coupons – After we’ve brought home the 20 newspapers, it takes us 1 hour to pull out the coupon inserts, organize them, and file them away for later use. (1 Hour per week).
  • Researching Deals – We don’t spend a lot of time looking for deals. We simply visit our favorite coupon bloggers websites and we follow them on facebook. The deals come to us in our facebook feed. When we see a deal we like, we write it down and print any printable coupons we might need for that deal, and we cut out the filed coupons we might need. This only takes a few minutes each time we go through this process. Since we do a lot of deals these small chunks of time can add up (60-90 minutes per week).
  • Shopping – We spend an average of 20-30 minutes actually shopping in the store. We’re only going to get the deals we researched and nothing else, so we “get in… and get out” fairly quickly. In a shopping trip we may visit a few grocery stores and pharmacies stores before going home, so we might spend 1-3 hours away. We shop like this about twice a week. (6 Hours Shopping per week).

All in all.. we spend less than 10 hours a week doing couponing activities.

So if we are spending 10 hours a week plus $333 dollars a month, is it worth it?

Let’s look at it this way.

Before we started couponing…

  • We spent about $600 a month to get $600 worth of groceries, toiletries, and home goods.
  • We shopped at Aldi’s or Save-a-Lot (bag your own groceries type places)
  • We were constantly running out of razors, shampoo, peanut butter, bread, etc. Causing us to make an almost daily trip to the grocery store. I frequently ran to the store for a missing recipe item for dinner.
  • There were many items we did not buy, such as Doritos chips, John Frieda shampoo, or Gillette Fusion razors… these were LUXURY items we counldn’t afford.
  • My wife and I both worked full time jobs.

… and today:

  • We spend about $733 a month. (That’s the $333 expenses and $400 for the items we buy after using coupons). We receive $3500-$4000 worth of name brand groceries, toiletries, home goods, health and beauty products, and more per month.
  • We shop at Publix, Winn Dixie, Walgreens, CVS, and Target. These stores accept coupons and/or have rewards programs.
  • Our pantry is FULL, and we are well stocked for 2-3 months on just about everything that lasts. Excess items are donated frequently
  • What we once considered LUXURY items, we now get for free or nearly free. Gillette Fusion razors for $1? Doritos for $.45? John Frieda Shampoo FREE? Yes.. we’ll not only get one or two at that price… we’ll get 20!
  • My wife no longer works. She doesn’t have to anymore.

I’m not certain if this is a compelling enough case for you to seriously consider couponing for your family. All I know is that we used to struggle to make ends meet, and today we don’t. We feel BLESSED instead of poor. The stockpile is growing, the family enjoys better food, my wife doesn’t have to work unless she chooses to, and we give and donate like never before.

So you can call me crazy if you want to, but I am very happy living this way.

What are your thoughts? Are we crazy?

About David Bibby

David Bibby is one of the administrators here at Coupon Fed Family. He has written many articles on couponing that have been featured on other websites, including the very popular Money Crashers guide to Extreme Couponing.

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