Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Coupon? 9 Great Reasons to Start!

A friend of mine recently asked me "Why do you waste time with coupons? Aren't they only worth a few cents each? How does this possibly translate into saved money? Aren't you buying a ton of junk you don't need, like those families on T.V?"
Our finances make it impossible NOT to coupon.  We have a lot of medical debt, 2 vehicles that need a lot of work done, and 4 mouths to feed.  Our household is severely paycheck to paycheck. The reasons people coupon can vary wildly...I read (too) many couponer blogs, and I have seen everything from middle class families saving for Disney trips to families trying to stretch their food budget far enough to get by in between paychecks.
Your personal reasons might vary, but there are a few reasons to coupon that are pretty good regardless of your situation.

I am going to be very clear that I do not condone the misuse of coupons in any form, so keep this in mind. 

1.) Coupon values can range from a few cents to several dollars
I have also seen some HIGH value ones out there. Paired with sales, or stacked with other coupons, this can mean huge savings or FREE items.
For Example:
Item: Crest Toothpaste
Item Regular Price: $1.96
Store Sale/Loyalty card Price: $1.80
Store Coupon Savings: .75 cents off
Manufacturer Coupon Savings: $1.00 off
Final Price: .05 cents

I see a lot of bloggers who claim to never pay for toothpaste, but since we have some dental issues in our house and require some special toothpaste, I can never seem to manage that, although I NEVER pay full price. The above price is what people who stockpile would call a 'stock up price'.

2.) Coupons + Sales + Rebates = Maximum Savings or Money Makers
I would like to stress that if the rebate form requires you to have been unhappy or dissatisfied with the product, and you are happy with it, then it is unethical to redeem this rebate. Don't ruin the game for everyone, eh?
That being said, you can quite often get an item free (or 'darn near free' as I like to say) with very little out of pocket expense by combining coupons with rebates.
For Example:
Item: Brita (Self Filtering) Drinking Bottle
Item Regular Price: $8.88
Store Sale/Loyalty card Price: $6.00
Manufacturer Coupon Savings: $2.00 Off
Rebate form Savings: $5.00 Back (Part of the Brita Challenge, February 2012)
Final Price: +$1.00 Money Maker

3.) You can stretch your household budget farther by paying less for items you already use.
We spent a small fortune in cereal before I began couponing. Everyone in the house will eat it for breakfast or as a snack, so I need to have a good amount of it around. Couponing means I can make healthier/organic choices and spend less to feed this ravenous bunch! Or if I spend a LOT less on the food and toiletries, I can (with a coupon of course) get a bottle of Glade for the shoe closet (2 boys+2 tom-boy girls=stinky feets) or some beauty products to make myself look a little less tired...and STILL have money in my pocket when I leave the store!

4.) If you receive Link/Snap benefits, your allowance will get you much more bang for your buck.
This follows #3 for a reason. The same principle applies. If you spend less on the food, you can get more of it or can spend a tiny bit more for healthier alternatives. You will have more money at the end of each month.

5.) You can try new/new to you products for less than retail value.
There is nothing I hate more than getting lotion or something like that home and hating it, and thinking of that wasted money...

6.) If you get into the habit of taking cash and leaving the cards at home, you will spend less. 
No, really. I do this all the time. And when I have cash left in my pocket on the trip home, I swing by the bank and drop it into the savings account. yeah, sure its only 20 bucks here or there. But trust me, it adds up fast. This translates into actual savings you can track and show off!

7.) Giving feels good.
If you somehow find yourself with 20 boxes of noodles and no need for it all, you can share the love, and give it to a struggling friend or relative, or the local food pantry or bread line.

8.) Your expired coupons can help our service members. 

The military and their families are able to use manufacturer coupons after they expire, for up to 6 months at their their expiration dates! [They are only good at their Commissaries, and  if they are stationed abroad.]
http://www.ocpnet.org/

Idea: Start a local coupon swap! Then once a month get the members together and round up all of the expired coupons. Split the cost to mail the envelope (or box!) in to the site.

Note: You don’t need to inform them that you are adopting a base or tally anything. The more work you put on yourself the least likely you are going to stick with it. Just pick a base, fill your envelope and send it off to the brave,hardworking troops!
(Thank you, Southern Savers)

9.) If you keep it in moderation, and are smart, you can turn this into a hobby than benefits your entire household, pay down debt or save for a family trip.

Your reasons for couponing will be your own...and  the coupon community welcomes you regardless!