Law School
Personal Finance

Are Coupons Worth Your Time?

One personal finance tip that you see pop up over and over again is to clip coupons. Some people claim to save hundreds of dollars each month just by clipping coupons. There’s an entire site dedicated to helping consumers get the best deal on their groceries using coupons.

I don’t clip coupons for groceries. Never have and I’m not sure I ever will. I’ve tried clipping coupons on Sunday, but usually give up after 5 minutes. I just don’t think it’s worth the time investment. Here’s a quick break down why I think clipping coupons is a waste of time.

Coupons for stuff I don’t buy. Every time I’ve sat down to look through coupons on Sunday, I mainly find coupons for stuff I just don’t buy. I haven’t eaten a Lunchable since 4th grade, so I’m not interested in getting two for the price of one. We have to remember that coupons aren’t printed because food manufacturers want to help out our budget. Coupons are a marketing strategy to get consumers to purchase something they wouldn’t buy in the first place. I’ve also noticed that coupons get issued for stuff that’s already overpriced to begin with. I can save 15 minutes of my time and save the same amount of money buying the generic brand than clipping a coupon for the name brand.

Coupons can increase travel time. Some coupons are valid only at certain stores. Instead of doing your grocery shopping in 45 minutes in one store, in order to get the good deal with your coupon, you might have to drive across town, extending the amount of time of your errand. In addition to wasting time, the extra driving to get the deal wastes expensive gas. After you factor in the cost of gas, the extra effort to get the good deal will probably be mitigated.

Extra clutter. Clipped coupons means just one more thing to keep track of. I’m really trying to reduce the amount of stuff in my life and extra pieces of little paper floating around won’t help. I’m sure many people have established awesome systems to organize their grocery coupons. If it works for them, more power to them. Personally, I don’t think establishing such a system would be worth the time investment.

While I don’t clip coupons for groceries, I will clip coupons for restaurants. Restaurants offer great deals in the Sunday paper. My wife and I have had several cheap date nights thanks coupons from restaurants. Our favorite breakfast place, IHOP, often has coupons in the paper for buy one meal get the other free. You can’t beat that.

What do you all think? What’s been your experience with coupons? Any suggestions on making coupon clipping worth it? Drop a line in the comment box. I’m looking forward to you suggestions!

Image by BigFreaky