In the last few years there have literally been thousands of couponing sites that have sprouted up throughout the web. While couponing has been around for decades, the most recent recession and wave of media coverage on ‘extreme couponers’ has propelled couponing into a very popular money-saving art form.
But it hasn’t come free of criticism. Coupon critics are quick to point out that many families spend hours to save a few dollars and don’t take the time to calculate how much money they’re saving compared to the time spent on the entire couponing process.
The very idea behind couponing is to save your family money, but if you sacrifice spending hours with your family just to save a few dollars each month, is it really worth it?
The truth is that while most people like the idea of couponing, they really don’t understand all that goes into the preparation, organization, and research involved with couponing. While there are plenty of resources to teach you how to coupon, the fact remains that you just aren’t going to be an overnight couponing success. It takes a lot of dedication and hours each week in order to save hundreds of dollars each year.
Calculating The Cost of Couponing
So before you jump onto the extreme couponing bandwagon, let’s do some math to find out how much couponing really saves someone on average.
First, a reality check.
The couponers you see on TV who plan for giant purchase in order to pay $12.00 for $700 worth of goods (yes, it’s possible), spend an enormous amount of time and effort collecting hundreds of coupons. In my opinion, it’s not worth letting coupons consume your life like that.
A more reasonable approach is to aim for 20-50% savings on items that you normally buy without buying way too much in terms of quantity.
From our experience in using coupons over the last two years, we found that on any given week, we’ll spend an average of 3 hours a week.
Time Spent On Couponing
- 1 hour clipping and sorting coupons,
- 1 hour looking for online coupon and planning our Sunday shopping trip,
- 1 hour shopping at Walgreens for the deals we’ve found that week.
Now for the math. On average, for a coupon trip to Walgreens, we will spend about $10-15 on $50-$60 worth of items. That’s a savings of about $45 per week just on Walgreens items (toiletries, paper goods, deodorant, etc). At three hour a week, the savings calculates to a little over $15.00 an hour for that example.
Have there been weeks of much higher savings? Sure, but that’s a conservative estimate on how two people reasonably use coupons.
Is It Worth Saving a Few Bucks?
Admittedly, $15 an hour isn’t huge savings, but it’s not bad considering the amount of work we put into it. For our family of two, the savings are small – but for a family of four or more, the savings can easily double. The good news is that it doesn’t take much more time to coupon for a larger family, so your savings can be significantly higher simply because of the extra volume that you buy.
At the end of the day, you just need to be honest with yourself about how much time it takes to coupon. If the savings are worth it to you, then go for it. Your time is valuable and saving money is important. But if you don’t take the time to calculate what your time is worth, you’ll let the small savings keep you from doing the things you enjoy most. Plus, you might find that your time is better spent on ways to make money instead of trying to save with coupons.
What do you think about saving money with coupons? Is it worth your time? Would you rather devote your time to saving money or making money? Leave a comment below!