Grocery Coupons are really BIG where I live. Because many of the stores will double and triple coupons up to a dollar. So getting a dollar off of many items is pretty enticing! Most of the coupons come out of the Sunday paper. And you can get up to 6 Sunday papers so that get the most bang for your buck.
The idea is you match up coupons with items that are on sale to maximize your benefit. Also you buy as many as possible at the price in order to last you until it goes on sale again.
Every week a lot of people are able to get some very cheap food.
While I agree that food is an area where we can all save money, I am going to go against the grain and discuss some of the down sides of grocery coupons. And how to use them to actually save money and health. I will share my experience of an avid coupon clipper and what I learned.
Cost of coupons vs. savings - Coupons are generally not free, at least not in large quantities. And since 4 children is considered a large family nowadays, I needed to buy large quantities. There are a few places online where you can print various coupons, but only one of each. So in order to get coupons I bought 6 Sunday papers.
There are over a hundred coupons each week! It can be mind boggling. So I purchased a subscription, like many of my friends, to a web based program that kept track of which coupons I had and which stores had sales and matched them up. It was very simple to operate!
I felt I was doing such a great job, saving money for my family. I would purchase many items, with a low total, and see my savings on the receipt, every time! Soon I realized that a lot of the savings I got was just from buying things on sale and the extra from the coupons didn't always make up for the $50 a month I was spending to buy the coupons & the subscription.
When I did save a lot of money from my grocery coupons I bought a lot unhealthy food for my family. Which brings me to my next point.
Most of the coupons are for unhealthy, processed foods, filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and/or many other preservatives. I found for the most part the food we were eating was not healthy for us! We had lots of cake mixes & frosting, hamburger helper, "fruit snacks" with zero fruit in them, and a variety of other processed foods. A typical meal would consist of a box meal that only needed chicken added - maybe it was pasta or rice with a premade sauce, biscuits from premade dough, and canned veggies. These meals are high in sodium and preservatives. And low in vital nutrients. When I stopped buying all the processed foods. I soon found that most of my coupons went unused. Because I was not using many of the coupons it became unprofitable for me.
I also had to travel to all the different stores to match the sale with the grocery coupon. This not only took time, but more money spent on fuel.
I know there are some stores that price match. But I have not found any store that will price match both the sale & the double or tripled coupon. Plus the stores that do price match in my area limited the distance the competing store could be. What a mess. So I drove around from store to store with my specific grocery coupons and coordinating lists, buying unhealthy food!
When it comes to reducing costs I also had to compare savings from grocery coupons, with the potential increase in cost of dental & doctor bills due to poor eating habits.
Although I have stopped using grocery coupons regularly, I did learn a few valuable lessons that I use today. Really shop the ads! I always looked before but I pay much more attention and when possible I do stock up on needed items, like toilet paper. I write down the prices from each store on the things that are good and use them for my weekly meal planning. I get the best produce at the best price, and I do price match but it is generally for cheese, eggs and produce. I also still use coupons if they are free & are for healthy food!
There are many ways to save money on food (look for tips on other pages) but, be careful when using grocery coupons that you are really saving money and feeding your body what it needs!
"A man in debt is so far a slave,"