But before we talk about the mechanics of finding, organizing and using coupons, I want to address what – in my experience – seems to hold so many people back from really saving money with coupons.
Misconceptions about coupons that prevent us from fully embracing them. And therefore, prevent us from becoming money-saving rock stars!
So, today, I want to delve into the most common misconceptions that I hear – and then debunk them, one by one.
Coupon Misconception #1: Using coupons is taking advantage of the stores or the manufacturers.
Let me be clear: Manufacturers don’t release coupons for their products because they have taken pity on us poor, struggling consumers! Ha!
They do it because it’s effective and inexpensive marketing. Putting products on sale and releasing coupons for those products is a great way to get us to pay attention.
And it works! We buy their stuff more often when we have a coupon for it – and/or it’s on sale.
Of course, the average consumer may buy something because they have a coupon for it, realize they like the product, and then buy it again the next week – at full price. This is what the manufacturers are counting on. We, however, are going to be too strategic in our couponing to fall into that full-price trap!
Coupon Misconception #2: You don’t save enough money to make it worth your time.
There are two parts to this misconception, I think – #1. That is takes sooooo long to coupon that it’s just not worth it, and #2. That even if you do it, you only save a few cents or maybe a few dollars. Again, not worth it.
If this was true – that it took hours and hours to coupon and at the end of the day, you could only save $.50 or even $5 – I’d agree. That would not be worth it.
But I typically spend two hours per week on all my coupon endeavors. That means making my lists, pulling my coupons, AND going shopping. And for that two-hour investment, I typically save anywhere from 25% – 85% off my bill.
By doing the things I talked about last week, plus the simple, strategic couponing techniques I’ll be teaching you in this series, I cut our grocery spending from over $1200 a month to under $600 a month. And I spend about 8 hours a month doing that. That’s a pay rate of $75 per hour. Of AFTER TAX money. For me, that’s definitely worth it.
Coupon Misconception #3: There aren’t coupons for the types of food my family eats (i.e. kosher, healthy, organic). It’s all junk food.
I won’t disagree that there are many coupons for chips, crackers and cereal. I’m with you. Really. If I want to feed my kids fruit snacks, I give them an orange or a banana.
So please believe me when I say that you can still put a premium on purchasing healthy, whole and even organic foods AND save money with coupons. Maybe you won’t save as much as someone who only eats foods that come from a box – but you will certainly save enough money to make it worth your time (2 hours).
I regularly post about coupons for organic foods – not to mention basic staples like pastas, rice, beans, cereal, bread, produce, dairy and lots more. And yes, I’m talking about hechshered brands!
Even if you were to totally write off couponing for food, you could still save a ton on your personal care items and household cleaning supplies. I estimate that we are saving at least $100 a month on those items alone!
Coupon Misconception #4: It’s cheaper just to buy the store brand or to shop at Costco.
I will concede that there are certain products that will always be cheaper at Costco. Here’s my list, in fact, of the seven things that I only buy at Costco! But there are many products at Costco that are actually MORE expensive than those at your local grocery store.
And yes, when you are comparing the full price of a box of General Mills Cheerios to a box of Store Brand Os, the store-brand option is always going to be cheaper.
But through strategic couponing, you won’t be comparing full price to full price. You’re going to be comparing coupon-with-sale-with-in-store-promo price (don’t worry – I’ll be covering all this in an upcoming post) to store brand price. And you are going to find that you can not only get your yellow box of Cheerios for less than the generic Os, but you can pay as little as $.50 for it!
(By the way, your price book is going to be invaluable as we learn how to do all this strategic couponing stuff, so if you haven’t started yours yet – you might want to do that!)
Coupon Misconception #5: People will think I’m cheap/poor/obnoxious/entitled/fill-in-the-blank if I use coupons.
I’m one of those people that doesn’t like it when people don’t like me. So I understand this worry.
Plus, the reality is – and I’m saying this as delicately as I can – that many of us have encountered some very real prejudices about our attitudes toward money based on our religion. So, I can certainly understand why you don’t want to be seen as feeding in to those stereotypes.
And yes, sometimes cashiers do seem a little put-out by the people that come up to their check-out line with a stack of coupons. Or other patrons roll their eyes and make an obnoxious comment.
But you know what? I’m saving about $200 – $400 a month, just by using coupons. And those savings make a real difference in my family’s budget.
Plus, when I use my coupons, I do it as a mensch. I don’t jack up the line and make a dozen customers wait for me to run 15 transactions. If I have more than one transaction, or a large stack of coupons, I let people go in front of me. I don’t shop at peak times. And I try to be as organized and as pleasant as possible.
So, if a cashier is a little short with me or another customer seems put-out, I’m going to have to assume that it’s more about their day – and less about my coupon savings. We all have bad days; don’t let them stop you from saving your family a few hundred dollars a month.
Are there other couponing misconceptions that are holding you back? Let’s talk in the comments section!