How to Save Money » Coupons

Do Coupons Make You Spend More Money?

Is Couponing Hurting You Financially?

Coupon Questions

When I first started using coupons, I had a few coupons and one shelf in my closet where I stored my extra products (I wouldn’t have even called it a stockpile). But after more than a year of serious couponing, I had built a large multi-shelf stockpile with plenty of products.

Having a stockpile is a great way to save money, but lately I have been wondering: “has using coupons and building my stockpile made me spend more money than I would have spent normally?”

I was going to be all scientific about it and do the math to see the actual spending difference, but around the time I became more serious about using coupons and stockpiling, I went from a single gal to a couple and their dog.

Since my partner and I were spending more money with more people in the house and more income coming in, that threw all the math out the window.

So without being scientific about it, this is how I figured out the ways that I avoided overspending:

I stuck to my budget

Whether you use coupons or not, it’s important to stick to your budget when shopping. And using coupons won’t actually save you money if you still spend, spend, spend just because something is a “good deal”.

Before shopping, I made sure to check the sale flyers, so when using my coupons I knew I was getting the best price possible and only stocking up as much as my budget allowed.

I only bought things I needed

My stockpile is full of items that we use on a regular basis; toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher tabs, lotion and juice, just to name a few. Some things you won’t find in my stockpile: cat food, coffee, diapers and baby wipes.

You won’t find these items in my stockpile because these are items that we do not use. We will not spend money on these items just because we have coupons for them. I would much rather trade coupons or give coupons to others who will actually use those products.

The exception to only buying what we will use is when I buy items for my donation bin. If I can get a great deal on items that I know the shelter or food bank is in need of, I will pick some up. Of course, still making sure I am staying within my budget.

Stockpile Groceries in Canada

I didn’t buy crazy amounts of items

One thing I have learned is that just because you have 10 coupons doesn’t mean you need to buy 10 of that item. In addition to staying within my budget, I also make sure not to buy more of a product than I need.

I will admit though, that in the past, I have gone a little crazy on a good deal and bought more than I really needed to have on hand. It was a mistake, and I don’t recommend you do this.

So do I think that using coupons has made me spend more money? Nope! Have I made some mistakes? Yes. I’ve gone over my budget for the week a couple of times and I definitely bought way too many boxes of tissues on one of my shopping trips.

Many new couponers make these same mistakes, but it’s okay. We learn from our mistakes and we move on. As long as you are sticking to your budget and not buying items just to use up coupons, you will be saving money and you will have a great stockpile for your family.

Do you think coupons make YOU spend more money?

Comments

  1. Amie

    In the beginning yes. Now that I know sales go in cycles I don’t have to buy everything and use all of my coupons. There are now weeks that I go without looking at a flyer bc I just don’t have the extra money to go out shopping. Even if it is only $1.

  2. Jessica

    I definitely went overboard in the beginning! My first coupon experience was 0.50 off a floss that was 4.99!!! Looking back, yes I was insane! Now though I feel I spend the same. Why? For me, I now took on shopping for 40-50 family members/friends. I usually just pay the tax or have a bottom line. So for me, instead of getting one bottle of shampoo for $2.99 I get 6 or 7.. still spending the same just getting a whole lot more!

  3. Wendy

    Yep, think we all go through that. Part is realizing how much you actually use. I had eight packs (of 12) toilet paper for just me (thanks to stuff being in two places) but one friend had a housefire and someone else needed a hand so three went to new homes promptly. And sometimes buying the larger size without coupons with a good sale is much better than having three smaller plastic bottles to dispose of plus the extra time and gas it took to get them in the first place.

  4. Anna

    I first started couponing in September of 2012 and I went nuts when I found an awesome deal (i.e. I found Purex on sale for 2.99 and I had a bunch of $2.00 off coupons). Problem was I was spending way over budget. So long term I am fine but it would have been better to start out smaller. I still have a “thing” for buying toilet paper when it’s on sale for half price and I have coupons. I have tried new products if the price was too good to pass up but I only would buy one or two to see if the family liked it. As I tell people – I figure I am okay since I have never bought kitty litter just because I had a coupon considering we don’t own a cat!

  5. Shelagh

    This describes me perfectly! I currently have 22 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner *great deal, paid $8 for them all*, but I had about 10 already. I am now more “cautious” with my purchases. I buy what we need till the next sale. I don’t go over board and I don’t buy stuff we will never use. Exception being TP and paper towel, with 3 young kids you can never have to much of that stuff! If I can get a great deal on something that the food bank can use, I will buy it and on my way out the door drop it in the bin.

  6. AM

    It’s a cycle all new couponers goes through. I like to call new couponers “baby vampires”, because they’re so thirsty for good deals that when they see one, they go nuts! But once that stage has passed, the they would become good couponers.

    I did go crazy during the first year. Before coupons, I would stock up when I saw a good sale. I would stock up for 6 months to 1 year. But when I discovered couponing, well…I went a little crazy. Lets say for some items, I had enough to last 5-6 years and some items I rarely use (ie: Glade products).

    Do I regret this? Nah…it was fun. I gave LOTS to friends and family. And my stockpile serves me well. Last year when I went on mat leave, I didn’t have to worry about any supplies. Every week I just bought fresh produce, meat, and milk. Funny….I even got to SAVE money on such reduced income. My husband didn’t have a steady income because of contracts. We pretty much lived just on my EI. (BTW…I did save money for our fixed expenses, and bought diapers/wipes before I took my leave). My stockpile down has come down to an year supply. The advantage of a huge stockpile is, I can afford to wait for those rare great sales where I can get products for close to nothing.

    I use coupons to stretch my dollar on things we need. I don’t feel that I need to use them before it expires. And now I don’t use them for the sake of a good deal or free items you don’t use. The only thing I will also stockpile on is toilet paper. If I have 10 coupons and it’s dirt cheap. Hell…I would use all 10 and go over budget on that.

  7. carrie h

    When it comes to food we buy manly organic and cleaning supplies are mainly vinager – there is not a lot of coupons out there for organic. I have other ways of saving $$$$.

  8. Diane

    Anna….We are so alike! I too have had the Purex soap bug and always buy TP when on sale and have a coupon…wheather I need it or not! I am very picky at this point on what I buy…it would have to be a VERY good deal along with a coupon for me to add to my stockpile. I realized this when I cleaned out my stockpile cupboard and discovered I had 99 cans of beans! Yikes!

  9. Connie Walsh

    YES!!! and NO!!!!

    Yes, when I am really into it. Who can say no to xxxx for only .25???

    No, when I am a casual couponer. I collect coupons only on things I need and use them on a sale. Keep my rice and other pantry items stocked and don’t worry about how to get a tonne of free glade candles (when I never light candles).

  10. Donna R.

    I started couponing in Sept /12 when tracking my grocery bill showed we spent $1200/month on groceries. I built a budget and spent right up to that budget because I was building my stockpile. I am now at the point where my pantry is pretty full and my freezers are busting. February is a “how low can you go” month and I think I can get away with 600.00 this month. I am finding that I save far more money by really shopping the sales flyers and MAKE A POINT OF CONSULTING YOUR SITE before I go to the store. If I don’t, I KNOW I will pay too much or miss a stock up sale. Last week I missed Evaporated milk for 1.28 at Food Basics and was mad at myself. Lucky me, it was on again this week at Metro and I stocked up (12 x 1.00 off coupons worth). CASSIE THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THE WORK THAT GOES INTO THIS SITE. I APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH!!!!

  11. josie

    i think with myself,, there were a few things i got that werent that real important.. but mostly i tried products i wouldnt normally buy… but as in a good thing.. it expanded our tastes…and i have a stock pile so when we dont have the money i know we wont starve or run out of toilet paper, or laundry detergent

  12. tina richardson

    We all go a little crazy when we first start-its the kid in a candy store idea but I can honestly say that I started couponing due to financial reasons and over the last two years I reduced my household budget ( the money for food plus any items we need to run the household including new appliances) from 1300.00 per month pre stockpile to 5-600 per month consistantly over the last 18 months. And since I had a stockpile during that time I managed to save money from the small budget to even pay for a new fridge and freezer cash so YES I save a lot of money and couponing done with a budget in mind will never cause you to overspend…it takes organization and a strong commitment to your budget…this website and all of Cassie’s work constantly reinforces this concept…and it is greatly appreciated. Whenever I run into people asking about couponing this is the first site I tell them to start with.

  13. Kris

    In a sense, coupons might make me spend more money in one outing than I used to, but in the long run, I am getting more for the money I do spend. For example, before I got serious about couponing, I didn’t hit as many Shoppers 20X points sales as I do now. However, I have a nice stockpile to show for it. And I get lots of free stuff on redemption days. I think it balances out in the end. As a family of 6 who will soon be down to one income, I envision relying on our stockpile to help us spend even less once I am back to being a SAHM. I have 27 bottles of laundry detergent, but with the amount of laundry I do, that’s a comfortable number for me. 🙂

  14. Trish

    I’ve only been couponing for about a year. I can say that building a stockpile of things I use regularily SAVES me money. I take advantage of buying things when they are at their cheapest and paying attention to the “cycles” of sales. I stock up on those items. This makes it so that when I run out I’m not heading to the store to buy items at full price. I just go to my stockpile and get it. Ironically, when my stock pile gets low it’s that time of year again when those items are again at their cheapest – then I stock up again. The secret to having couponing and stock piling save you money is to only stock items you use on a regular basis. Some weeks – my grocery list only contains milk and bread. I don’t need anything else. Thanks to my stock pile.

  15. W.

    I think they do. And what you don’t spend in money, you spend in valuable time. As a young woman getting my career on track since I’ll be graduating soon, I don’t have the time to spend hours price matching or coupon clipping. Sure it’s sick when I get a dollar or two off my fave makeup remover or cleanser, I don’t devote all my time to it. Guess I’m not an extreme couponer lol. But I just learn to buy what I need and move on. And I guess since I’m not married/living with a my boyfriend/have kids these are things I don’t have to worry about yet.

    I feel coupons give you a little break here and there. Which is cool. But to devote your entire life to getting $.75 off tissue or cheese, that’s kinda sad…

    • Theresa

      You must be very young. Being smart with money is not something you wait to do when you are married/have kids.

  16. Colin

    EXTREME COUPONERS = HOARDERS!

    • Kathryn

      you watch too much TV Colin. those folks ARE hoarders, albeit organized hoarders. Price matching couponers are not. Big difference.

  17. Terri MacKay

    Since I started using coupons and really going through flyers carefully, I have definitely saved money. My daughter and I live in a small apartment, so I don’t really have room for a stockpile, but if I can get a good deal on toiletries or laundry detergent, I will buy a few extra, as they don’t take up much space.
    I am saving a lot on my weekly shopping, and it doesn’t take up a lot of my time. I don’t have a car, so I take the bus. Right up the street from us, there is a Freshco, and they price-match. So once a week, after carefully going through all the flyers and matching coupons, I’ll do all my shopping there in one trip.
    One thing about coupons and flyer deals is that I am no longer brand loyal. If I can get a great deal on a certain laundry detergent, I’ll buy it regardless of brand.
    I also make my weekly meal plan after checking flyers. I’ll plan my week’s meals around what’s on sale or what I have coupons for. If I can get a good deal on chicken breasts, then that will feature prominently in that week’s meals.
    My income is quite low, so I have to be very careful with every penny. Using flyer sales and coupons, I can feed both of us on $50-$60 a week–and we eat quite well!!

  18. Jennifer

    This is a good article! I try and not to go over my budget. Tho some weeks it’s challenging as there are amazing sales! (this week $0.48 for brand name soup and $1 for brand name pasta) If I do go over, I try to go under the following week. But if there are good sales the following week then I’m toast! =)

  19. Mary Jo

    We are not really Hoarders we just are good shoppers. If you were to come to my home and say you needed something and I happened to have it in my stock pile and didn’t have to pay much for it would give you some. We also help out with the back to school project with pads , and deoderants ,tooth brushes, and tooth paste.
    SO WE ARE NOT HOARDERS!!!!! JUST GOOD SHOPPERS.

  20. Johana

    I love this article. I read this part to my husband: ‘Many new couponers make these same mistakes, but it’s okay. We learn from our mistakes and we move on’ it is helarious. I have made some mistakes, but it is okay. I tell my husband: ‘those are experiences’ it is okay, and agrees with it.

  21. Lisa Anne

    Always stick to your budget when shopping and couponing will never make you broke. Some advise I was given when I first started was to make a list and stick to it. Also to never buy spontanious items at the check out, even if your five year old is throwing a tantrum for that item, stick to your guns and buy only what you have on your list. It becomes easier after you have done it several times.

  22. TH

    That’s an important consideration, and I appreciate this blog post. Couponing is absolutely useless if you’re buying things that you don’t need, or simply too much of each item. I think it’s important to make the distinction between the thrill of the chase for getting the biggest discount at the checkout, and saving the most money possible on things that you were going to buy anyways. Great post, thanks!

  23. Kathryn

    I am just starting out and yes, I’ve gone over budget a few times. I’m learning that sales will come back around. I put away an extra $5 or so a week just in case a good sale comes up. But I can’t always afford to. Couponing has definitely saved me money, a lot of money. Right now I use the savings to buy some things I normally wouldn’t get within the budget. It’s definitely a learning process.

  24. Heather R

    I’ve always had a budget and stuck with it, but after a while I realized I could make much of what I was buying for even less, and as I run out of things in my stockpile that is what I am doing. I also realized i was eating more processed food as a result of getting so caught up in all the deals. Now I hardly use any coupons. I’ve switched to eating whole foods, making most things from scratch and make my own household cleaning products and body products. I don’t find it takes any more time than what I spent searching and organizing coupons, but i feel like i’m making healthier choices for both myself and my family.

    • CMB

      I completely agree. How often do we find coupons for fresh whole foods? It’s far too seldom.

  25. Eve

    About three years ago I started couponing.I built up a stockpile and groceries were about the same cost.But I quickly learned that many items take a long time to use eg personal items. I gave away loads to may family plus each Christmas they each got a big parcel each. Then they were not using all and their stock piles were building up. Next I tried to give a way to homeless shelters and missions and they did not want it. They prefer small travel sizes which are quite hard to get with coupons.So about 6mos ago I stopped using coupons unless the odd thing was a product I used.I also buy GF. I am finally at a stage where I am using up my stock pile and only buy a very select few things.My grocery bill is definitely reduced.I still have a healthy stockpile of just things we use all the time.I buy free groceries whenever I can at SDM but that is not being offered very often.I aim for a reduced monthly bill of 1/4 a month.

  26. Leslie

    I find you must be careful what you stock pile. I got good deals on bottled salad dressings. Not a good idea. The oils in the dressing go rancid. Loss of money there. And I agree, stocking up on shampoo & body wash is kind of redundant. How much do you use per shower? About a quarter-sized squirt. So how long is it going to take to use up a stock-pile of these items? FOREVER!!

  27. karen

    I am at a point where I was very thankful for my stockpile. I recently had surgery and it took over 8 weeks before I could lift anything. If I hadn’t planned ahead we would have had to rely on takeout and paying someone to shop for me. Other times in my life that my stockpile was needed and eventually depleted were birth of a child, camping trips, last minute gifts, Christmas/birthday gifts, illnesses and at one point we had no pay cheque.
    Couponing and other incentives allow us to try or use more expensive items at or lower than generic brand prices. I am also creative in looking at alternative ways to use items such as baby wipes and wash are less expensive than feminine hygiene wipes and washes.

  28. CMB

    Everything in moderation…
    I have a tiny stock pile of personal care items that don’t really expire, enough for a couple of months worth. But when it comes to food, the vast majority of coupons are for processed/pre-packaged foods. Those should only be consumed in moderation anyway. Very rarely do we find coupons for produce, milk, eggs, fresh meat or fresh fish (you know, the foods that are typically around the exterior of the grocery store). And way too many coupons I come across are for air fresheners and cleaning products, most of which are made of harsh chemicals and you probably don’t really need to be using those anyway. Stick to a budget and only buy essentials, and coupons can save you money.

  29. Lori

    Colin, the fact that you are on this site indicates to me that you are in fact interested in saving money. perhaps if you should spend more time researching how you could be doing this and do it so well you could help others by donating your surplus and less time criticizing others

  30. joanne

    I only buy what my family uses. There is even a website that tells you how long after a best before date that a product is still good (I just cannot think of it at this moment). For those of you who think that it takes a long time to match price match etc. I take half an hour every Thursday evening to go through the fliers and compile my list. My family knows that this is my time and I have 2 kids under the age of 6.I have even offered to help those at my work to show them how easy it is. Some people go out and have a drink to relax. I go shopping with my clipboard!!!

    Don’t forget that stockpiling doesn’t only apply to food. I have stockpiled clothing for my kids for the summer using end of season sales and store extra percentages (carter’s, Oshkosh, etc.)I have signed up for their e-mails and always know when they are having a great sale. Sears has a fantastic sale on right now–50% off the clearance price. I got Adidas and Nike shirts for $10, Carter’s jammies for $5. I am headed there again after work tomorrow without the kids!!!!

    I also shop at Outgrowoutplay, Hot tots, and Multiple birth association sales. These sales sell gently used children’s clothing. They are extremely particular on the quality of clothing they accept. I sell my kids used clothing at the outgrowoutplay sales. I even had a brand new item with the tags still on it, refused because it had a mark on it (I bought it that way). I am in the Ottawa area but I am sure there are these types of sales everywhere.

  31. Theresa

    I use a few coupons here and there but never overspend because I use them. Ad matching is the way to go.

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