Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why I Don't Coupon

I don't coupon.
I feed our family of 5 on $300.00 or less a month, including paper products, toiletries/health & beauty.
Without coupons.
I've heard of this extreme couponing craze and I have wonderful friends who are a part of Savings Angel. I don't know anyone personally that's got the Walgreens Couponing/Rebate Deal figured out.
I did attempt the Walgreens thing... twice. And left both times seriously frustrated... the deals weren't there and the coupon stacking didn't work like it worked for others. I decided that serious frustration was not something I wanted to continually encounter on my quest for further frugality. So I quit.
And I don't miss it.
Here's what I've personally learned about couponing and why it doesn't really work for me...
:: I don't get a newspaper, I read my news online. So I'd have to start buying the paper or work to find friends who buy the paper who would be willing to give me their coupons. And it can't be just any paper-- you need to buy the big city papers, that's where the great coupons are at. A friend that does Savings Angel gets 5 copies of the USA Today in order to reap the coupons. Plus you need to factor in the $20 monthly subscription fee for Savings Angel. I would really, truly like to know what the actual monthly savings is of the average Savings Angel shopper when you factor in the cost of newspapers for coupons, subscription fees, time spent calculating and planning plus the additional gas for driving to multiple stores.
:: I don't find a lot of coupons for the items my family uses. There aren't coupons out there for fresh fruits and vegetables or raw meats, which just so happen to be the most expensive items on my shopping list. 
:: As a rule, I'm not brand loyal (there are a few, very few exceptions) but instead shop the best bang for my buck. I have found the items I often purchase are cheaper than the brand names with the coupon and so I'm one of those people who ends up leaving the coupon next to the advertised item for someone else to find and enjoy.
:: It has been my experience that coupons are mostly for boxed, prepackaged, high fat/sodium, low on nutrition items that I wouldn't normally buy.
:: I do about 80-90% of my shopping at Aldi. They don't take coupons.
:: I like to buy local. Fresh local... the farmer's markets don't take coupons...
:: I enjoy cooking and baking... making my own yogurt, baking bread, cooking oatmeal instead of serving cereal out of a box for breakfast [We do eat bagged prepackaged cereal once or at the most twice a week].
:: Couponing is time consuming. I'd rather use my time doing something else... like planning out a month's worth of menu plans (which is a major help on keeping the grocery budget in check.)
Are there exceptions?
Sure. I like to use restaurant coupons when possible for restaurants we like to frequent or would really like to try. We also help out our local band boosters club by purchasing a "band card" for $10 with discounts for local restaurants. 

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