This website is all about stretching dollars and how to get the most with one smallish income. I’m sure we all have some knowledge of “extreme couponers”. We’re talking about those people who somehow manage to clip coupons, then go to the right store on the right day at the right time, and load up their carts with health and beauty items, pickles, and ketchup for mere pennies. I’ve seen blog posts and even television shows about the subject, yet for the majority of us, we still buy our kosher dills with cold-hard-cash. Why is that? To answer the question we first need to explore three types of “couponers”.
Click here to go to How Stuff Works and read their article on Extreme Couponing
1. Extreme Couponers People who use this method spend a great deal of time researching the circulars, clipping coupons from newspapers and magazines, and hitting up their relatives and friends for discarded coupons. They plan the trip, organize their clippings, and only buy what they can get for almost nothing. These shopping trips have nothing to do with what’s on the family’s grocery list. The goal is to buy as much stuff as they can for as little as possible, whether that stuff is needed right this minute or not. Extreme couponers, for that reason, need a place to stockpile their finds until someday their family DOES need the item, saving them money in the future. This CAN be a way to stretch dollars, but for the majority of us, the reality is, coupons may just make a person spend more money.
2. The Rational Couponer Many buyers have decided there’s just not enough time in the day to research, plan, clip coupons, beg the neighbors for more coupons, and stalk the stores for their double coupon deals and absolute best prices. We figure if we clip the coupons we get in our mail and newspaper and take it along with us when we are shopping, we can save SOME money by using coupons on the things we needed to buy anyhow. This process CAN save families a little cash, but only if the coupon buy is a true savings. Let’s review an example. If a Rational Couponer generally buys store brand corn for 69c a can but has a 20c coupon for Del Monte corn priced at 92c a can, the buyer does the math and realizes that the Del Monte corn is actually going to COST an additional 3c. At this point, the Rational Couponer makes one of two choices. Either she buys the store brand knowing the Del Monte corn isn’t a real savings, or she may rationalize to herself “but it’s a name brand, it’s only 3c more, and there’s probably more food and less water in this can than the generic”. So the Rational Couponer, even after doing the math, may spend an additional 3c more on their groceries USING a coupon.
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3. Just Use It Couponer This is the buyer that the coupons were printed for. She’s busy but she wants to stretch a dollar. She’s got a hungry toddler tugging her pants leg asking for the cookies, and a baby in the carrier screaming because his pacifier fell in the car and she forgot to grab it before she went inside. She hurries down the isles, scratching off the items on her list as quickly as possible. She vaguely remembers that there’s a Del Monte corn coupon and she grabs the name brand and throws it in the cart. Sound familiar? Yep, that was me when my boys were 1 and 3.
To really get more bang-for-your-buck, you need to take all three of our couponers listed above and roll them into one. She’s the Practical Couponer.
Practical Couponer This is how you can really save some money with coupons. You realize you don’t have 80 hours a week to scour the newspapers and stalk your neighbor’s mailbox waiting for her to throw out her unwanted coupons. You are the Practical Couponer. You clip the coupons you have, ask Grandma for extra coupons when the savings really will help your family this month, and let the rest slide. You take advantage of double coupons when possible and you spend a few hours a month instead of the majority of your free time (what’s that, right?) planning a monthly trip for double coupon shopping. During that trip you stockpile only the items that will help your family over the next few weeks or months. For most of your grocery trips however, you are the Rational Couponer, and you either save a little on coupons or get better quality for the money you spend. When you are in a hurry, you realize this and skip coupon shopping, using the best prices as your guide.