I know when I first started thinking about couponing, I couldn't bear the thought of shelling out money each week for a Sunday paper. I mean, if I were to buy 1 paper, that would be a whole $2.00 out of my grocery budget!! I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to save that much using coupons and make it worth the expense of having to buy the coupons. It seems a little backwards - spend money to save money.
But I plunged in, and started out buying 2 papers each week. I clipped any and all coupons, and had my coupon binder filled up pretty fast. And I kinda blew my budget those first several weeks, too. It didn't help that about the time I started couponing was the same time that stores were running some really amazing sales on stuff. Like, REALLY amazing sales. I got alot of great stuff for much, much less than if I had bought that stuff at regular price without coupons. I don't regret buying those things.
Is it really worth it to spend the money on the paper? Will I get my money "back" in savings? You bet! I buy 2 papers each week, and the cost just went up to $2/paper. So that's $4. Or, just this week I subscribed to home delivery for 2 copies of the paper (we'll see if they deliver tomorrow!), and that's $1.90/paper, so $3.80/week just to have coupons and throw the rest of the paper, ads, and "stuff" into the recycling. I haven't actually done the math, but I know that I'm getting my money's worth. Some weeks I might not save $3.80 by using coupons... but another week I might save twice that much. It really helps that Kroger doubles coupons up to $.50. So, yeah, my answer is yes, it's worth it to buy the paper for the coupons.
And if you don't want to shell out for the Sunday paper, there are several other ways you can get coupons without paying for them. You can print them off the internet! Just now I printed off a $1.00 coupon for Velveeta Cheese. Velveeta is on my "want" list. The coupon doesn't expire until 4/30/09, so I have 3 1/2 months to find some Velveeta on sale and get a great deal! So far I haven't had any trouble with any stores taking internet printed coupons. I've heard that there are some places that don't take them, but I play by the rules and hope everyone else does, too, so our stores will trust us and our internet printed coupons!
Another "free" coupon option is to load coupons onto your store's loyalty card. I know for my area, I think it's just Kroger and CVS, but there's a list of stores you can load coupons onto. They are free, but they do expire. And once they're loaded, the next time you buy that item, the coupon automatically comes off your card when the card is scanned during that transaction. Some new information about the "e-coupons" though, is that you are NOT supposed to combine them with a paper coupon. For awhile that was good, ok and accepted. It's just been found out that you aren't supposed to do that. So... don't do it. It means being a little more careful on how I load my coupons onto my card (since you can't choose to NOT use the coupon on the card if you are buying that item), but that's easy enough for me. I simply make up my shopping list, then look over the e-coupon sites to see if there's any coupons that are better than my paper ones or that I want to use. Then if there are, I make sure and mark it on my list that it's an e-coupon so I know not to use a paper coupon with that product. (By the way, e-coupons do not double.)
Is it worth my time? I guess that depends on how valuable your time is to you! To me, it's worth it because I want to stretch every. single. penny. And pinch it until it squeals. And the booger comes out of Lincoln's nose. It did take me several weeks to get the hang of it. I'm still not the fastest couponing shopper in the world, I'm sure, but it's worth it to me. If it takes me an extra 1/2 hour and I save $6 by using coupons, I just "made" $12/hour. Kinda :)
Now you know my thoughts on couponing. I really do think it's worth it. There are a bunch of different ways to coupon. If one way doesn't work for you, you can always try another! So if you're thinking about it but unsure about jumping in and joining the rest of us... c'mon in, the water's fine!
If you have any questions, leave me a comment, or go check out any of these blogs:
Stretching A Buck
Internet Printable Coupons:
The blogs above and Erin at $5 Dinners all have a "Printable Coupons" bar on the side of their blog that you can print from, and that's where I get mine.
A few hints for printing coupons:
~ Use the Fast Normal or Draft setting on your printer. It will save ink (since printable coupons do take some ink!)
~ You can use "used" paper! I have done this (just make sure you're printing on the blank side of the paper!) and haven't had any trouble using the coupon.
~ Most coupons you can print multiple times. Some have a print limit and it will tell you if you've reached the limit.
~ If you're unsure if you're store takes internet coupons, just go to the Customer Service desk and ask :)