If you live in North America, you have probably heard of the TV show Extreme Couponing. In this program, people aggressively clip coupons, go shopping and end-up with a massive amount of products costing them $ 5.00 or less.
I am sure a lot of people are envious, and would love to have the same result with their own shopping. I used to be too, until I started digging further.
All participants in the show told they easily spent 20 to 25 hours a week couponing. This is the equivalent of a part-time job! If you have that much time to spare, you are better off actually taking a part-time job. In British Columbia, even at the minimum wage -$ 10.25/h-, you would net close to $ 485.00 on a semi-monthly basis.
Are you saving that much on your purchases? If you live in Canada, it is very unlikely. Canadian stores seldom match coupon rates or allow several coupons to be used on a single item.
I think coupons actually promote compulsive buying and waste. How many times have you bought an item you didn’t need “just because you had a coupon”? To make the most of your coupons, you usually need to buy in bulk. The majority of products have a shelf-live, i.e. 3 months, 6 months, a year or 2 at most. How many bottles of shampoo do you think you will use in the next 2 years?
I am not saying you should discard coupons altogether. Do your own test and math to see if couponing is worth your time and help your finances.
I do my grocery shopping at the same store every week. This store has a built-in coupon card. I receive any available discount when I check-out. I always look for a rebate on the items I need. On average, I save $ 10 to $ 25 each time, closer to $ 10 most of the time though. Over the course of a year, it adds up to over $ 500.
I definitely take the savings, but I will not spend hours clipping coupons. The savings to time ratio is not worth it for me.