Pros and Cons of Using Coupons

Using coupons has lots of advantages, but can also be a pain. Here's everything to know before you commit to using coupons on a regular basis.

Amanda Thomas
7-minute read
Episode #147

Coupons - what do you think of when I say that word? Who do you think is the average coupon user? I bet the “crazy coupon lady” from a reality TV show popped in to your head. But the real answer may surprise you.

Did you know that households with incomes above $100,000 are twice as likely to coupon than households earning less than $35,000? Or that college graduates are twice as likely to use coupons than people who didn’t graduate high school?

Does that change your view on using coupons?

If you have dabbled in couponing, or you are thinking of starting down the road of clipping coupons, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Is it worth it?” Even before getting started down the road of couponing, it’s easy to see that it takes time, energy, and focus to be able to use coupons to their maximum benefit. For those reasons, I’ve come up with a list of pros and cons to help you determine if couponing is right for you:

The Upside of Couponing

You Can Save Money

The most obvious reason people want to start using coupons is because it has the potential to save money. While most people are not going to use coupons to the extent of the crazy coupon ladies on TV, I’ve found that in using coupons on a moderate basis, I can save about $12-20 per shopping week. It may not seem like much, but over the course of a year, that savings averages almost $1,000. That’s a decent chunk of change! Check out these ideas of Where to Find Free Coupons

You Can Stock Up on Staples

Coupons for things like pasta, canned vegetables, and other canned and boxed goods are very common. If you pair these coupons up when these same items are on sale, you can stock up your pantry with staples to last you for weeks or even months.

Bonus Tip: If a newspaper has a particularly large amount of coupons for items you use, get another copy of the newspaper and stock up on more of those coupons! (Dollar stores typically have discounted newspapers available after the Sunday morning rush), or you can swap with friends or find extras online.

You Can Get Free Shampoo, Soap, Toothpaste, and More

The key to getting these items for free is using them at a store that has sales in which these items are discounted to 10 for $10, or similar - and that the store rounds all coupons up to $1. This way, if you have a coupon for $.40 off shampoo and the store is running a special that makes Suave $1 per bottle, you can literally get a free bottle of shampoo. They do this often for hand soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and other necessities so you can quite literally never pay a dime for these items again.

You Can Donate Extras

I am on the Board of Directors for a domestic violence shelter that helps women and children. Often when women flee an abusive relationship, they've had very little time to escape and therefore have few belongings on them. For that reason, the shelter goes through a lot of shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorant.

This means I always have a place where I can donate excess items from my couponing efforts. You can do the same. Simply find a local shelter or other organization that would be glad to take your extra toiletries.

You Can Get Treats for Less or Even Free

If you’ve been following the Domestic CEO show for a while, you know that I’m frugal and I like to cook. When you combine those two things, it means that I don’t like to spend money on extra stuff at the grocery store that isn’t necessary. If it were up to me, I’d only be stocking up on ingredients that I can make into yummy meals. The challenge is that I’m married to a snacker.

Mr. Domestic CEO likes his snacks, specifically in the morning and before bed. Couponing gave us a great compromise because I was able to find a variety of snack foods that I normally wouldn’t spend money on, and use coupons to get them for cheap or free. Coupons are a great way to save money on those extras that your family doesn’t want to give up while still substantially cutting your grocery bill.

You Can Try New Items for Less

When brands release a new product, one of the quickest ways to get people to try it is to provide a manufacturer’s coupon for it. Oftentimes stores will discount the item when it’s first released too, so combining a coupon and a discount often leads to getting to try the new items for super cheap.

Couponing Leads to More Coupons

Now I don’t work for a grocery store, so I can’t confirm this, but from my experience the more often I use coupons, the more often I receive coupons from the stores. Grocery stores know a lot about their shoppers, especially when we use those loyalty cards they give us. They put a lot of research into knowing how to motivate their shoppers. They think giving you a few extra coupons at checkout or sending you a few in-store-only coupons through the mail will make you into more loyal shoppers. And they're probably right.

OK, those are the many benefits of couponing. Now, let's look at the downsides.....