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Kicking Those Coupons to the Curb: Giving Up on Couponing

Since my son arrived, (eleven months ago), I’ve focused much less time and energy hunting down bargains in and around my area. Before his birth I thought nothing of dropping by the drugstore on my way home from work or making an extra trip to the grocery store to stock up on good deals.

It seemed to take no time to pop in and out of a store, so I didn’t have any qualms about making a few extra stops between here and there. My RSS reader was full of websites and blogs that told me where to find cheap deodorant and how to buy at least two or three products for free each week.

While I was never an extreme shopper I did slowly fill our hall closet with one free bottle of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and toothpaste after another. After a few weeks of this I was hooked and found myself learning the drugstore lingo and rolling over ECBs, (CVS’s extra care coupons), week after week.

These days it seems like a whole lot of hassle to clip coupons and shop at multiple stores. Yanking my son in and out of the car seat, (I drive a very low to the ground old-school Toyota Camry), isn’t easy.

It’s a real pain to drag him out of the car so I can buy one tube of toothpaste or one bottle of shampoo. I don’t mind taking him to the grocery store or even shopping for clothes, but dragging him out and about for one free item doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

To keep the coupons for free products rolling it seems I need to shop every week at CVS and Rite Aid. On more than one occasion in the past three months my coupons expired when I forgot to return to the store.

I’m considering giving up on the majority of my coupon clipping and bargain shopping. I may print a few coupons from coupons.com from time to time, but I am very close to dropping my Sunday newspaper subscription. I decided to put the paper on hold for a few weeks to see if I might change my mind, but as of now I’m 90% sure I won’t renew when my subscription expires.

Most weeks I don’t find a whole lot of coupons for products we use. We buy a lot more fresh meat and produce these days. Other than the occasional box of cereal or crackers I rarely buy prepackaged foods. I still use coupons for personal products, but with my fully stocked closet I won’t need to buy these items for quite awhile.

These days I’m not sure coupons provide a lot of bang for my buck. In my last three trips to the grocery store I used less than 5 coupons clipped from the newspaper. When I consider how much time it takes to clip, organize and later weed out my coupon binder I’m just not sure it’s worth the hassle.

How about you? Do you use a lot of coupons these days? If so, what is your source: the paper, the Internet, elsewhere? If not, have you decreased your use or did you always avoid clipping coupons?

Kristen | The Frugal Girl

Monday 1st of October 2012

I'm with you...once you have kids, especially a baby in a carseat, stopping in for a free tube of toothpaste is torture (especially if, God forbid, they're out of the free toothpaste!)

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 26th of September 2012

I think my couponing days are coming to an end. Like most of you I just don't find a lot of value in all the clipping and sorting and even when I do clip and sort they often expire before I can match them with a sale. Thank you for all the comments and letting me know I am not alone!

ladygoat

Tuesday 25th of September 2012

I also gave up couponing when I had kids. It just wasn't worth it, trying to navigate a store check out with a kid and a bunch of coupons.

Instead, when I see a good sale price, I just stock up a LOT if it's not something perishable.

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 26th of September 2012

That's what my husband suggested as well. Try to stock up on buy-one-get-one deals and other sales that require reading the circular rather than clipping, sorting and hoping my son doesn't rip them all out of my hand before I reach the checkout. Thanks for the comment!

Beatrice

Monday 24th of September 2012

I rarely clip coupons but I do use ones I get in the mail, online, or at the counter. I get suckered into going into CVS whenever I get those 20-30% off coupons. However, I've noticed that they can be quite sneaky with those coupons. For example, the discount doesn't apply to items that are already on sale. Well, that includes their buy-one-get-one-half-off deals that they often don't put a sign out for in front of the product. So sometimes I'll buy an item (thinking that it's not a sale item and that the coupon will apply) only to find out it was one of those buy-one-get-one-half-off deals and I ended up paying full price. Very annoying. Then once, I used a 20% coupon and after I got the subtotal, I whipped out another coupon (one of those $2 extra care bucks) and when they subtotaled it again, I saw the $2 coupon was applied but my 20% total discount was also lowered. When I questioned why they did that, they just said something about having to make an "adjustment" after receiving the other coupon. I would have been better off using the two coupons at separate times. The difference was not that much but it just annoys me that they can't be more straight forward about discounts. Babies R US also goes to great lengths to confuse the consumer when using coupons. They print out a gazillion coupons every time I make a purchase and have me doing math to figure out if a deal is worth it. Then they introduced that VIB card that gives you an extra 10% discount on diapers and baby food if you put $ on it and buy those items from there. Staples also comes to mind with those rebates and Staples Rewards programs. So much hassle/confusion to save a few bucks! What happened to just simple sales and straight-forward coupons where you can easily calculate what you'll pay at the end?

P.S. I also have a baby (she'll be 11 months next week) so I know how tiresome it can be lugging them from store to store. These days I find myself carefully planning my shopping excursions so that I'm making way less frivolous trips.

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 26th of September 2012

I totally agree with the confusing coupon policies. Babies-R-Us in particular drives me crazy. Each store has their own policy and each seems to be more confusing than the next. By the time you learn the rules they often change them.

P.S. I'm glad I'm not the only one in the 'I don't want to drag my baby around town boat' :)

Ellen K.

Monday 24th of September 2012

A friend and I were recently talking about how frustrating it is to read so many personal finance tips that do not seem to address the realities of life in households with small children. I use coupons for toiletries and household items that I can buy at Target. I also have the 5% Target debit card. But as a SAHM with two potty-training 3 year olds who occasionally have their own ideas about getting in and out of the car, it's a real inconvenience to drive to multiple stores across town in search of the greatest deals. My twins started preschool recently, so woohoo! I can go to a second grocery store to buy a few preferred items. But it still saves time to always shop at one store so that I can map my grocery list by store layout, and I find I stick to the list more often this way too.

I very, very rarely use coupons for groceries. I try to shop the perimeter, avoid too many processed foods, and buy the store brand. If I see a coupon for something I will use, I'll clip it.

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 26th of September 2012

I too shop the perimeter and stay out of the other aisles. Shopping at one store is so much easier than driving all over town to save a few dollars here and there. Sometimes the easy approach is the better approach regardless of how much money I save.