Thursday, April 1, 2010

What Does Couponing Cost You?

Did she say what does couponing cost me?  Doesn't she mean what does couponing save me?? 

Yes, I did say cost.  It's true that using coupons can save money - a lot of money.  But have you ever thought about what the cost of couponing is?  When I first learned about couponing, I found myself doing, thinking, and eating things that turned out to be unhealthy.  I think couponing is a hobby/sport/past-time (call it what you will) that can get you in some trouble if you're not careful about it.  I'll explain.

  1. Couponing can cost you lots of time.  It's true - it takes time to clip coupons.  How much time you spend and how you spend your time clipping coupons varies greatly from person to person.  But as the saying goes, it's possible to have too much of a good thing.  I'll admit that when I started couponing, I wasn't very efficient with it.  I took a long time poring over the coupon inserts, searching out couponing blogs and matchups, and filing my coupons in my organizer.  But I have a toddler.  A toddler who doesn't like for me to spend hours on the computer or fooling with paper coupon inserts.  He wants me to interact and play with him.  I realized not long after I started that I needed to decide how long I would spend clipping, searching for, and organizing my coupons.  And I stick to that time allotment.  I know that sometimes I have to quit before I feel like I'm done, and that can sometimes cost me a little bit of money (when I don't have the coupons for the item that is on sale because I can't clip coupons every waking minute of the day).  It's important to set time limits so you don't take important time away from your family just to save a buck.
  2. Couponing can cost you in nutrition/health.  Again, at the beginning, I was completely engulfed in saving money.  There are people out there who blog about how little they're spending on groceries and it's so little that even I can't fathom how they're doing it.  Unless they're buying the cheapest of the cheap foods just to stay within their very low food budget.  But I believe that some of the foods that you can get at the cheapest are about the worst things you can/should put in your body.  Processed, powdered foods can be purchased for pennies.  Does that mean that you should purchase, and live on, that kind of food?  I don't believe so.  After couponing for a few months, I noticed that I was buying more processed foods than I felt comfortable with.  And I've also read my fair share of articles that describe how bad processed foods are for our bodies.  One of the articles I read was about eating as few processed foods as possible.  The author of the article stated that shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store should help you purchase fewer processed foods.  It made sense to me, and I decided to try it.  Granted, everything on the perimeter of the store isn't the most healthy things for you (the beer is on the perimeter of my Kroger), so you'll still have to watch what you're getting.  But if you stick to fresh produce, fresh meats, and dairy (all generally on the perimeter of the store), you'll be much healthier in the end.  I've been eating those types of foods for about 6 months now, and I've gone down 2 pants sizes - without really trying.  (I say two but I'm not exactly sure how they count them - I went from needing to move up to a 14 to comfortably fitting in an 8 - a size I haven't been in since a while before my wedding....not bad!).  Even though my food budget is a little bit higher than it could be, I'm proud of the food I put on the table for my family.  And we are all a little healthier because of it.
  3. Couponing can cost you mental anguish.  This might seem a little bit extreme to say, but I felt quite a lot of stress when I began couponing to save as much money as any other couponer that I encountered.  What pressure!!  Even though I was saving money, I was very hard on myself any time I forgot a coupon, spent more for any item than I could have (because of a sale at another store, or on a different week), or talked about couponing to anyone.  No matter how much I saved, I ached to save more.  Not necessarily because my family needed me to save more, but because I'm competitive.  I've learned that saving money is a good thing, and I know I'm doing better with budgeting and saving than I ever have in my whole life.  So I'm content with that.  I want to share knowledge, teach people how to use coupons and shop around for great deals, and be happy with the fact that I'm saving and helping others save.  And that's what the intent of my blog is. I hope I can teach people how to hold on to a little bit more of their money and feel great about their financial situation.  I tell people, "You spend your life making your money.  It ought to be important enough to you to care about how you spend that money."  That's all I want to do.
How has couponing cost you?  It has saved me tremendously, but only after I learned the ropes, got over the hump, and really looked at what my coupons were doing for me versus what they were taking away from me.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Comment or send me an email!

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