19 August 2007

Why I don't clip coupons

The new neighbors came over to play cards (more on that later) and the wife Libby asked me to join her at a coupon swap. Apparently several ladies on the street are getting together and swapping coupons and info on the best places to get deals. I politely declined, but ABM wanted me to give it a second thought. So I sat down to sort through the coupons that Libby gave me to see if there were any I could use.

I used to cut coupons back before I had kids. The main strategy used in saving big bucks with coupons is to hit the stores on double coupon days. Fifteen years' ago, there were no stores here that doubled coupons. The only other way to save money is to use the coupons in combination with store sales. I did it for about six months but ultimately concluded that it wasn't worth my time. Keeping up with sales and what store has the best regular price on what item is a lot of work for someone who also has a job outside the home. It is almost a hobby in itself.

As I was looking through the coupons, I realized an even bigger reason why I don't clip coupons. Our shopping habits are different than that of most families. Other people buy the stuff they "need" and then moan about the cost of groceries. Coupons work for these people because they are looking for a way to spend less money on the stuff that they are going to buy, no matter what. With us, there are whole categories of items that we will not buy unless they are on sale.

For instance, I like body wash but I rarely buy it. I do without it until someone buys it for me as a gift or some store has it on clearance. We aren't brand-loyal, either. We will buy whatever brand is cheaper that week. That means some weeks we get store brand spaghetti sauce, other weeks it's Prego, and then there are times that there is no spaghetti sauce at all.

Since we have already trimmed our shopping list down to the bare necessities, it almost seems like we would be spending more money by shopping with coupons. However, Libby has told us about the great results that another neighbor has had ($160 worth of groceries for only $70) so ABM wants to give it a try. If using coupons will allow us to get more food for the same amount of money, then I am all for it.
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