Thursday, March 10, 2011

Myths of Couponing

There were a lot of reasons why for most of my life I have not really used coupons. However, after trying to use coupons in a more efficient way, I see that they are not true. Also, you do not have to be a crazy coupon lady like me with a 3 inch binder full of coupons. Couponing can be done on many levels. Here are the myths:

#1 There is nothing I would buy that I would use a coupon on.

We all use deodorant, toilet paper and toothpaste, or we have an entirely different problem on our hands! Actually, some of the best savings are on things you cannot even eat. I have not paid for one bottle of saline solution, toothpaste or deodorant since I started couponing.

So if you think you will have to give up your whole foods, healthy lifestyle, you are wrong. Think of it this way, if you go into Shoprite or any other major food store chain, the many of the eatable items in that store will be over-processed and unhealthy. This would be the reason why Traders Joes is about 4 isles and Shoprite has at least 12. Logically, this would suggest that many of the coupons would be for processed foods like cereal, cracker or artificial frozen food. However, there are still lots of coupons for healthy items, just like there are plenty of healthy choices at Shoprite. Also, you must realize that produce coupons are rare. Cheap produce is found instead by buying in season. Do not forget pharmacies too, I have gotten 6 large containers of regular (not instant) oatmeal for free from Rid Aid.

#2 I would not save enough to make it worth cutting all those coupons.

I can easily save at least $10-20 in manufacture coupons in one shopping trip, combining those coupons on store discounts(sales), I can save 50% off my bill. If you try a little harder you can save 70% to 95% off your bill. The time commitment for a big discount would take me about 10 minutes to read a couponing blog, 30 minutes to pull or print coupons and about 1 hour to shop. However, this depends on how long your list is; how well your coupons are organized; and how well you know your store. Since I have been paid $100 for 1 to 2 hours of work, it makes it MORE than worth my time.

Also there are plenty of deals that involve no coupons at all. Recently I saved $730 on our vacation by making 1 phone call after seeing an advertisement. Even though we booked our trip already, they were happy to adjust our reservations to include the promotion. Couponing is a way of life. You do not have to have a coupon binder or order 4 papers a week. While you will save more if you do, do what you can in the season you are in. Just questions yourself if there is a coupon or discount code for what you want to buy. For example, before you go out on a date with your husband, look on line for discounts for restaurant you want to go to. A couple minutes on Google could save you $5 to $10 bucks.

#3 I have no place to store a stockpile, so I can't coupon.
As I have said above, couponing is more of a way to live. While a stockpile will help you save big, you do not necessarily have to have one to coupon. The good news is a lot of the expensive items can be gotten for free are small in size. You can get great deals on over the counter drugs, vitamins, make up and skin care products, which do not take up a lot of room. You can get them for free, and that would save you a lot of money. So, you still would be stockpiling, but it just would be much smaller. You have to make do with what you have available.

One of the best things about couponing is that you can donate a ton of items, and all it will cost you is your time. Obviously, this requirers absolutely no space. Pregnancy centers need diapers, shelters need deodorant and toothpaste, those who have lost their job need food and laundry detergent. Keep one for yourself, donate the other 3!

#4 I have tried using coupons before, and I have never saved that much. I just am not good at it.
While sometimes I match up deals myself, usually I find all my deals on a couponing blog. I list the blogs I use in posts under "couponing," and I keep up on the blogs by using Google Reader. On the blogs it lists match ups of manufacture coupons with store deals. It tells me the exact coupon, and where to get it or print it. They also calculate the lowest price, though this may be different at your store, so you still need to do your math.

The blogs also tell me if there is a Catalina deal, that is when the little printer next to the register prints out a coupon. However, usually catalinas are only noted on the blogs if it is a certain value off your next order or for a free item. Getting a 75 cents off 3 bottles of Coffee Mate is not an earthshaderinq catalina. The other day I spent $25 after coupons, and got a $20 and $3 catalina off my next shopping order. While the weekly ad from the store described what items qualified for these catalinas, the blogs told me exactly, down to the oz, what to buy, how many to buy, and what coupons I could stack to get this deal. The best part is it took me all of 10 seconds to read it, simple. So, if you want to quickly find the deals, you have to read the blogs.

#5 Coupons cost the store and manufacture a loss in money.
Actually, coupons are just like money. The store gets the full amount back from the manufacture and also get 8 cents a coupon for handling it. If it is a store coupon the store takes the cost, just as if they discounted an item. Both parties do this happily. Why? It gets you in their store because they make their money by moving volume. A Rite Aid manager once told me that they make their ads around the coupons printed in Sunday papers. So, it is no surprise when we match up a coupon to a store deal to make a great deal.

The manufacture just wants to get to you try their product, in hopes you will buy more and tell all your friends too. These are major corporations, they know exactly how many coupons have been used. Remember too, they printed them in the first place. :-)

Coupon fraud does cost stores and companies a lot of money, and can earn you jail time or heavy fine. That is why a couponer should always play by the rules and educate themselves about fake coupons. Coupon fraud costs all of us money!

#6 Couponing is greedy, you should leave the deals for the poor people.
Well, you could be greedy in just about anything. Even John Wesley suggested living on less, so you could save more and give more. Couponing is about making your money more efficient, so you can be more available to God. In addition, if you coupon, you can teach those who are financially struggling how to coupon too. You would be able to help so many people.

However, couponing could also mean that you are a hoarder or you are not a considerate shopper. Like the woman who cleared out the store and bought 40 rolls of free toilet. Maybe she was going donate them, I do not know her heart. But I do know she was inconsiderate of the other shoppers that really needed that deal, not to mention the store. Leave some for the other shoppers.

Well, those are all I could think of today (actually over several days, I get interrupted a lot).

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