The title is rather deceptive. I can almost guarantee this is the one and only time where you will see the word coupon appear on my blog. If it appears again it will be a total fluke. That is because I do not coupon. I don’t buy into the lie that it will save you money. I know, I know, there are extreme couponers out there who would hang me by my toes and then have me burned at the stake for such blasphemy, but hear me out.
There are two very simple aspects to the coupon question that I researched a long time ago and have stuck with ever since.
1. Coupon are generally only printed and therefor only good for name brand items.
Yes, you can save a dollar here, fifty cents there, and it can accumulate into quite a bit at the check out counter, but how are you “saving” this money. You are buying name brands first off, which tend to be more expensive, and yet no more effective or better tasting or longer lasting than their cheap off brand neighbors. Lets take for example
St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub
$3.87 at Wal-Mart for 6oz
Equate Refreshing Apricot Scrub
$1.97 at Wal-Mart for 6oz
I couldn’t find a current coupon for the name brand but I see them every now and again for lets say $0.50. Even with that $0.50 savings your totals still come to:
Name Brand: $3.37
Equate Brand $1.97
This is still a difference of $1.40.
That may not seem like a lot to you, but over time it adds up. I’ve used both and they work just the same. You can take nearly any facial cleanser and find a store brand that will work just as well. Your family doesn’t like store brand conditioner or chicken nuggets and so on and so forth. Keep that name brand bottle and put the store brand in it. If they ever notice the difference I will be astonished. We like name brands. We are supposed to. They spend a lot of money trying to convince us that we like them.
2. Couponing has a cost
There are several hidden costs to couponing that Idon’t think get enough credit. Firstly, typically if you are buying a paper to acquire coupons then you are spending money on that endevour. If you get a paper subscription just for the coupons then chances are you aren’t saving any money. Even if you use one the zillions of online coupon printing resources you are still spending money just not in the way we traditionally see it. Your time is valuable. How much time does it take to sit down and find the coupons, cut them out, organize them, keep up with which ones are in date, and then find the best place to use them. I plan all my grocery excursions and I generally have an idea of the prices in various places, and I take a glance at the sales papers that come in the mail for free with the local Courier Journal and that does take a little bit of time, but you have to do that anyway whether couponing or not to find the best deals.
This weeks Thrifty Thursday money saving tip is to use your head. Just because something seems like it will save you money doesn’t mean it actually will. If you just love a particular name brand item, then by all means buy it, but really consider what it is you are buying and whether or not that coupon is actually saving you any money.
How have you been thrifty this week?