3 Reasons I Don’t Coupon (& How I Saved To Pay Off $81,400 In Debt)

Why I Don't Coupon

I love to save money. There are very few money-saving tricks that I have not tried or would not be willing to try. In fact, I’ve saved so much money over the past 2 years that I was able to pay off $81,400 of debt. But couponing is one thing that I tried and quit.

Let me start out by saying that I admire all the women who coupon their way to free—or almost free—groceries and household products.  And I’m even more impressed with the dedicated bloggers who stay on top of all the deals and share insider info with others.

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But for me, couponing morphed into a major time suck that generated more work, a pantry full of unhealthy food, paper clutter and, ultimately, more money spent.

Why I Don't Coupon

So, why did I start couponing?

Shortly before my first child was born (before the show extreme couponing aired), I clipped my first coupon. I bought a copy of the Sunday paper at a local grocery store, pulled out the Red Plum and Smart Source circulars and cut out every coupon that looked interesting. I had dozens of clippings and zero plans.

I read every couponing 101 article I could get my hands on. I watched tutorials and I learned the most efficient ways to save money. Within a few weeks, I found that I was actually pretty good at couponing.

Sorry, but I didn’t quit because I was bad at it.

Why I Don't Coupon

On good trips, I saved 50 to 75 percent.

After several months of doing the coupon shuffle, couponing felt more like a burden and less like a blessing for my budget and life. I wanted so badly to love couponing. I wanted to make it work. But, after being honest with myself, I realized it was never going to be my thing. So, I don’t coupon and here is why. 

1. Couponing was stealing my time.

I’m only one person. (Crazy, right?!) I have two young kids, a husband, a house, a dog, a budget, a laundry situation…not to mention a few hobbies that I actually enjoy cooking, gardening and blogging. And I’ll be the first to admit that I have a type-A personality. When I do something, I jump into it with both feet. The more I got into couponing, the more obligated I felt to stay on top of each and every great deal. Couponing was becoming my only hobby and that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time.

2. I was sacrificing my health for a couple bucks.

Some people are able to pass up bags of M&M’s and freezer pizzas for pennies. Not me. I found the allure of processed food cut into my purchases of fresh food, and ultimately, my waistline was reflecting that shift. I know you can find coupons for healthy food. But in my experience, healthy coupons are few and far between. It was too tempting to weed through hundreds of junk food deals to find a coupon for $1 off hummus.

Why I Don't Coupon

3. I was constantly fighting paper clutter—and mental deal clutter.

I’m a firm believer in the power of decluttering to help pay off debt. If you know where everything is, you won’t waste money buying the same thing over and over again. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to get a handle on the clutter in my linen closet, laundry room and the kid’s toys in the playroom. But I still struggle with paper clutter. I even purchased sophisticated filing systems but I couldn’t find a way to stay on top of the daily coupons. It felt like I had coupons in every purse, diaper bag, glove compartment, box, folder, envelope, nook and cranny of the whole house.

So I quit.

(Again, let me reiterate this post is titled Why I Don’t Coupon, not Why You Should Quit Couponing. If couponing helps your budget and you can incorporate it into your life in a non-psychotic-way, go for it!)

And it was so freeing! All of my coupon clutter went into the trash. I quit wondering if I was missing a great deal. Worrying about sales cycles and store hopping stopped stealing real estate in my mind. I also found that I can still save just as much (or MORE) money by replacing coupons with these simple tips below.

How I Save Money Now

1. Aldi. Food at Aldi is so inexpensive. I talk more about my how I shop at Aldi here.

Aldi

2. I plan meals before I go to the grocery store. I don’t go to the store without a plan of 5 to 7 meals to eat for the week. Planning my grocery list is critical to stay on budget.

3. I buy ingredients. For as long as I can remember, I went to the grocery store to buy food. Frozen dinners, pre-packaged snacks, pre-sliced cheese and microwavable lunches. And couponing strongly supported this lifestyle. Then, I quit couponing and I started buying ingredients. Milk, eggs, beans, fruits, vegetables, meat, flour, yeast and more. I found that I was spending less per week on groceries and I have become exponentially better in the kitchen. You actually have to cook food to pull together budget-conscious meals with fresh ingredients!

The TWO Exceptions To My Rule

Okay, so there are a couple exceptions to my no couponing rule. (Don’t hate me.) I do use coupons for online purchases. Before I buy something online, I always check RetailMeNot for a virtual coupon code.

Also, I will occasionally keep coupons that are mailed to my house that I know I will be using in the near future. (I will not keep a coupon for a store I never shop at.) For example, if I know I need to buy a wedding gift for a friend, I will keep a $5 off Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon to buy the gift. Or when I moved, I received a 10% off coupon from Lowe’s that I was able to use toward saving $2,000 off new kitchen appliances.

…And One More Thing About Saving

My general attitude towards saving money is that you should spend the most time making the big cuts. If you’re spending 10 hours a week clipping 50 cent coupons, but you haven’t cut cable, you’re missing the biggest opportunities to save. I saved $1,200 a year by skipping cable. I saved $1,200 a year by using republic wireless phones. And I saved almost $1,000 by switching car insurance companies.

Best of all, because I love you and want you to be debt-free like me, I created a free workbook that outlines how to shave serious money off your monthly bills ASAP. Subscribe below and start saving!

Subscribe & Download For Free!

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I paid off $81,400 in 2 years and I want to give you a FREE copy of the workbook I used to ditch debt!

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Comments

  1. I tried couponing once and gave up because it was so time consuming and most of what we eat are fresh meat, veggies, and fruit which we rarely find coupons for.

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