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The Cost of Couponing: Is it really worth it?

Back in 2009, I wrote Why coupons could cost you more money. Today, I bring you an awesome post from the female perspective.

CouponingMost of you, I am sure, have probably cut coupons at some point. Coupons were first used in America in 1909 when Post made an innovative effort to increase sales of breakfast cereals and other products. Many view couponing as a great way to save a few extra bucks.

Then there are those who have become masters of this sport and participate in what has become known as Extreme Couponing. This term applies to those individuals who order the maximum number of newspapers available for collecting coupons, clip multiple copies of specific coupons, organize them in large 3 ring binders, hunt local stores for best sales and deals, and hit the store at 12:01 am on the first valid coupon day to ensure first dibs on the coupon goods. Many of these extreme couponers, some friends and neighbors of mine, would gather in groups to barter and hunt together.

I have couponed before. I would order 4 copies of the paper, spend hours clipping and organizing any coupons that looked appealing, head to the store at my own convenience only to find that most of the coupon items were sold out, and then stand in line forever while the annoyed cashier checked me out and the line of customers behind me rolled their eyes and stared at their watches.

I was not an extreme couponer and I found that on average I saved between $50-$75 per shopping trip. Meaning, that for me, I would spend 4-5 hours per week, ignoring my family and doing something that I hated to save some cash.

My friends who lived by this method of shopping literally had rooms full of food, which sounds appealing to many I am sure but let me enlighten you on the types of food that these people had stores of: insane amounts of sugary breakfast cereals, brownie and cake mixes, soda, PowerAde, Yoplait yogurt, canned fruit soaked in syrup, etc.

My somewhat obvious point being that their store of food included nothing that was nutritional or useful in creating meals.

My couponing endeavors did not last long because the cost was just too much…allow me to explain.  These extreme couponers dedicate much of their time, health and happiness to this lifestyle and what are they truly getting in return?

As a personal trainer and health and wellness coach, I do what I LOVE for a living and I make decent money doing it! I found that I could sacrifice hours of my life each week to the couponing gods and receive a relatively small return for my sacrifice or I could allow myself to work one extra hour doing something I loved to bring in that same amount that I could have saved couponing. Furthermore, because of my chosen profession and personal belief in wholesome food there were minimal coupons that qualified for a healthy diet but in my efforts to save money I was trying new products that were just flat out bad for my health.

The natural conclusion that I came to was that my time was worth more that what the couponing industry would have me believe, my health and diet are up to me and will not be determined by the couponing industry, and my happiness, i.e. my relationship with my husband and children, will not be sacrificed to financially benefit large uninvolved corporations.

There may be some of you out there who have found a happy medium, who eat well, save money, and enjoy your couponing endeavors. If so I applaud you, wish you well and invite your feedback!

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