Stop! Before you unsubscribe, just be aware that I’m still going to help you with grocery coupon use. :) This post is more about why it didn’t work for us, and why it might not work for you. It all depends, like just about everything in personal finance.
See all the grocery coupon experiment posts.
What’s more, I am now very interested in using coupons for non-grocery items, like toiletries, paper towels, etc. So while my approach didn’t work for our groceries, it may still have positive effects on our “home goods” budget.
I’ve tried to evaluate our failure with some objectivity and list the primary reasons why it didn’t work:
- We currently spend about $300 each month to feed a family of 3. In the grand scheme of our budget, there’s not as much savings to be had as, for example, a family that spends $1,000 on food per month.
- Over 75% of our grocery budget is spent on fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Since coupons for these niches are rare, that leaves about $75 of our total food budget that could be reduced by coupon use. You also can’t “stockpile” fresh groceries like you would with typical “extreme couponing.”
- Coupons don’t often align with the rest of the groceries we buy. On the remaining $75, we rarely want to buy the products that are advertised on coupons.
- A majority of our fruit & vegetable budget is spent in cash, at the local farmer’s market. They would laugh at my coupons. ;)
- We try to buy organic foods, whenever possible and affordable. While the organic coupon market is expanding, deals are still not as widely available.
- As coupons become more popular, I believe they will become less sustainable. As shows like Extreme Couponing become the latest craze and get people excited about coupon use, manufacturers and grocery stores may start feeling the pressure and change their policies.
- Coupons are time-consuming. Given the small savings to be had, and the amount of time required to find, sort, track, and use coupons, it’s simply not worth it for us.
Finally, since drafting this post, I noticed Wise Bread came up with their own list of reasons they’re avoiding extreme couponing, which include the time commitment and space required to store your stockpiles. I agree with most of their points, so I would encourage you to take a look at their post.
Do you use coupons? Why or why not? How have you overcome some of the reasons they failed in our situation?