Is Couponing Worth the Effort?

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We regularly get Red Plum and Smart Source coupons in our Sunday newspaper. We don’t use coupons much.  We tend to buy house brands.  We’re in a small city and don’t get as many coupons in these inserts as they do in a larger city.  We tried buying the Sunday paper from a nearby major city to get the coupons.  We found more deals, but the paper cost more than what we were saving.  Most of the coupons we get in our inserts aren’t for food products.

I actually did use a coupon yesterday.  Walgreens had a sale on Brach’s candy corn, which also had a manufacturer’s coupon .  You can sometimes get a name brand cheaper than a house brand, if you can combine a coupon with a sale.

I saw The Coupon Mom on Clark Howard’s TV show.  I have since read her books The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half and Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom.  I have followed her system of putting the dates on Red Plum and Smart Source ads and filing them, because she shows combinations of sales and coupons on her website, which indexes coupons by their source and date.  Her website covers sales at the national and major regional chains, but it doesn’t cover our small regional chain and the independent grocery stores.  We often don’t get the coupon and sales combinations that she lists due to the limited coupons in our small city paper.

My wife and I are convinced that we need to do a hybrid system.  We should file individual coupons for name brands we buy, and keep the rest of the coupon inserts filed by date, in case a sale/coupon combination comes up.

Is it worth the effort?  Maybe.  Filing inserts and looking sales up online isn’t too difficult.  It is less effort than clipping every coupon you might ever use and filing them.  It is easy to get caught up in the couponing game.  Remember to consider the general cost of what you are buying for a meal.  A coupon on a convenience product may still create a very high meal cost.

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