Enter your email address:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is Cutting Coupons Worth It?

I apologize in advance to those of you who could not care less about couponing, grocery store trips or our Dave Ramsey budgeting trials and tribulations....but I know several of you are geeks like me, so this post is for you!

We have been tracking our finances on a monthly spreadsheet since July of 2007 - which means I have 32 months of spending history to analyze and average when I'm feeling particularly geeky. (Which is far more often than I will admit here.)

This week I decided to take a look at our "Grocery" line item and see if I could pinpoint a pre-couponing and post-couponing difference. Sometimes I really feel like I'm saving tons of money with my pile of coupons and then I wonder if maybe I'm spending the same amount (or more!?) and just getting more for it. I guess either result would be a good thing, but the goal in general is not to see how much stuff I can get for $400, but to supply our family for the month on the money we've allotted to groceries - and anything leftover means saving, giving or playing more.

(Editor's Note: Our "Grocery" budget encompasses perhaps more than the average family's. We buy all of our toiletries, cleaning products, diapers, etc. out of it. Since I shop at Publix for the most part, it doesn't make sense to me to have separate envelopes for those things.)

I can't remember exactly when I began couponing, but it was sometime towards the end of my pregnancy in 2009. So I thought I'd look at our grocery budget from Feb 08 - Feb 09 and then again from Feb 09 to Feb 10.

Here's how things shook out:

Pre-couponing ('08-'09) - $339.71/month
Post-couponing ('09-'10) - $364.43/month

An increase of roundabout 7%. Hmmmm. None of that can be chalked up to inflation (I told you I am a geek - I checked) as consumer prices fell ever so slightly on average from 2008 to 2009. But the post-couponing budget does include diapers and formula which we obviously never purchased before the little man was born.

(Here's where it gets real nerdy - feel free to check out if you were only sticking around to be polite.)

If you consider that we go through approximately 155 diapers (avg. price $0.21) and three canisters of formula (avg. price $18) a month, that's an additional $86.55 we're now spending each month on "Groceries".

Once you back that out of the budget for the 9 months E has been freeloading at Casa Leipprandt (joke!)...our monthly average drops to $299.51.
A decrease of almost 12%!! (12% sounds SO much better than forty bucks doesn't it?)

Which brings me to the main reason I wanted to look at this - I now spend 15-30 minutes each week planning my grocery store trips and cutting coupons. With a real savings of $40/month that means I'm getting paid anywhere from $20/hr to $40/hr to coupon.

As a full-time stay-at-home mom, I'm okay with that hourly wage...but maybe you're a lawyer, a nurse, a chemical engineer...does it make sense for you to coupon too?? Maybe not, unless you can do it much more quickly and save way more than I do.

So I'd love to know your thoughts...

Feeling relieved that you now have an excuse not to coupon? Is $40 a pathetic amount to get excited about? Do people with coupons make you angry? Is our budget way out of whack?

Let me know your thoughts and I'll award a randomly chosen commenter or emailer a $40 gift card to the grocery store of their choice! : ) (Ha! Now you're excited about $40....)

(P.S. Comments/emails will be accepted for drawing until next Wednesday at midnight EST - winner chosen next Thursday morning once I've had my morning coffee)

(P.P.S. Please only comment once! But feel free to encourage your spouse, child, or couponing geek buddies to comment as well.)


  1. Hi Katie!!! First of all. I think it's totally fine to blame E for freeloading....oh how I miss the days of freeloading off my parents. I just started couponing 2 weeks ago. Now...I am a FT employed I will have to see if $40 is worth my time. I am also not the "saver" in the marriage. However, the stats out there on savings with coupons are just too much to pass up. We have monthly budgets dating back to 2003...but a new and improved one (thanks since mid 2008. I will be checking to see if it is worth it!

  2. I think couponing is TOTALLY worth it. Like you Katie, we have two little ones (both still in diapers, ARG!) and I have seen a huge difference. I have been able to cut about $20 a week out of our weekly grocery budget, which is no small taters when you figure over the year that is $1,040!!! More than anything I think couponing makes me think twice about buying something and about the price, whereas before I just bought it, swiped the card and went on my merry way. Plus, I am a little competitive (if you remember) and I like to beat my high score...nerdy I know!

  3. Fun post! I love contests!!!!
    Terrific analysis...goodness, you have so much of your dad in you! I think couponing is completely worth it and I WILL get my act together to begin doing it soon...I promise. I like Erin's long range view of the savings at the end of the year.

  4. Because of you I have started couponing and a LARGE reduction in salary around our household! Your post about couponing is ironic since I told Tonny last night that I needed to call you for a few hints or suggestions. I shop at Kroger since it is the only grocery store other than Ingles up here in the mountains! I average about $25 a week just in coupon savings and that does not include the Kroger card savings or the ecoupons! I have found that my list is based on what is on sale for that week and I always scan for the FREE items or the largest percentage of savings. I have more tootpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss than one family can use, so I plan to donate some of it to charity. I just cannot pass up the freebies! I do have to say that because of couponing, I have tried products that I would have never tried before and have even swapped my loyalty. My pantry is stocked more and Tonny questions how much I am spending because there is always more food, but after one trip to the store with me he is a fan! The total before savings $218 (I thought he was going to have a stroke) but after store savings and coupons the total ended up at $128!!! My problem is the time it takes to go through the Southern Savers list and then getting the coupons together takes me on average at least 2 hours before going to the store and I am spending about 1.5 to 2 hours in the store. YIKES, I want some of my free time back! This is where you come in, I am open to suggestions, tricks, etc. I do find that I am buying a little more each week, but still know that I am getting WAY more groceries than I did before joining the coupon gang. Just this week, I heard the lady behind me say, "Did you see her total before coupons? I need to start clipping!" Then the husband said "I think that is a record savings in the coupon dept!" That made me feel like my time was worth it!

  5. $40 isn't pathetic at all! $40 x 12 is $480 a year! (Yes I used my calculator). $480 would pay for a nice hotel for a weekend away..
    I love couponing but I have a hard time getting coupons. I don't subscribe to the paper so I just get them from my MIL when I can.

  6. I love this post Katie! I'm very impressed with your decrease of 12%.

    To be honest Clark has actually been the primary couponer in our family since we started about 6 months ago. He knows all of the ins and outs while I'm still learning some of the tricks.

    It has definitely been worth it. We have gotten such great deals on diapers (which as you know is huge!) and so many necessities greatly discounted and even free from CVS and Walgreens. :)

  7. Ha.
    Funny HOW many enthusiastic commenters you get when a reward is up for grabs eh?!!
    I have to say Ms Katie, I believe we are twins separated at birth. Many of your (newer) financial goals and milestones pretty much line up with how we've always lived.
    Adding insult to injury, we pretty much lump every single item you listed in your grocery list (toiletries, baby crap, etc) in ours. Plus, I am all over cutting coupons and getting the best deals in town.
    You're doing're on your way to financial freedom...and I think $40/hr is phenomenal...especially in our "line of work". Let's politely call it HR, shall we?

  8. Well you know I am a coupon geek just as much as you... so I would have posted a comment without the $40 giveaway! I always say that a coupon is worth the time. There is so much free money just sitting out there waiting for someone to cut it out and hand it to the store clerk. It doesn't take a genious to do this, just someone who wants to save a buck. Couponing is my new way of life... I can brag by saying that I spent $15.78 last week for $130 worth of groceries. I love couponing.

  9. Katie,

    You should be so proud of me, I spent $205.78 yesterday and saved $52.32!!! ( I shop for two weeks at a time). Not bad huh :o) Just thought I'd share :) (I know the contest is over I just wanted to add a comment any way!)




site design by designer blogs