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Weighing the Time-Value of Clipping Coupons

Money Keys

A few months ago I transferred a prescription from CVS to Rite Aid. This seemed like a no-brainer since the drug store is slightly closer to my house, newly renovated and much cleaner and more efficient than our local CVS. I earned $25 in UP Rewards for that transfer, which I used to buy four packs of diapers. That purchase kicked out another $20 worth of UP Rewards which I promptly used a few days after Thanksgiving.

The drug stores know exactly how to rope customers into returning to their stores each week and I have certainly fallen victim to their game. I have been back to the store four times since filling that initial prescription, but haven’t spent more than $2 out of pocket any of those four times.

Since I’m not a fan of couponing I decided to weigh the time-value of each future transaction. I allowed myself no more than five minutes to look over the circular, search for deals and clip coupons each Sunday. If I didn’t see anything useful I skipped shopping all together that week. I refused to purchase unnecessary products just to roll my UP Rewards.

On average I spent five minutes searching for deals and clipping coupons.  It took another ten to fifteen minutes to drive to the store, shop and wait in line. Thankfully none of my transactions were held up by invalid coupons or other register errors. I shopped early in the morning after dropping my son off at preschool so I was often the only person in line.

My list of purchases included four spin toothbrushes, eight packs of Pampers diapers, four bottles of body wash, two packs of hair ties, two bottles of lotion, a pack of q-tips, four sticks of deodorant, four packs of disposable razors, tape, chocolate, laundry detergent and dish-washing liquid. There were a couple of other items thrown into this mix, but I can’t remember them off the top of my head. The total retail value for the items listed above totaled roughly $275.

Each trip to the store averaged fifteen minutes and preparation for each trip took an additional five minutes for a grand total of twenty minutes per trip. I shopped on four different occasions, which means I spent roughly 80 minutes all together and saved over $275 in total or $68 per trip. Based on my calculations I saved $206 for one hour’s worth of work.

While I tend to steer away from coupons these recent shopping ventures have fulfilled my need to stock up on basic necessities before the baby arrives. New moms often think of stocking up on baby necessities, but often overlook stocking up on other household items. After my son was born I found it extremely useful to reach in the cupboard and find whatever I needed. I liked the idea of being able to hunker down for a few months without the need to rush out to the store or pay full price for items when I clearly didn’t have the time or inclination to look for bargains.

I have ten dollars worth of UP rewards remaining and I believe this week I’ll use the last of them. I don’t plan to coupon or buy any more supplies after they are gone. Despite the subsequent problems that prescription caused I did save more money than I ever imagined on household supplies. Even better yet I fulfilled another one of my crazy nesting impulses.

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