Coupon shopping does not work for me ;(

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Coupon shopping does not work for me ;(
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 12:23pm

I normally grocery shop at a mega mart, with a meal plan for the week, a list of basics that might be on sale and my cash.  A method that works really well for us.  But sometimes I watch these couponing shows and feel I am missing out by not leveraging the sales and coupons to stock up my pantry and get the best deals.

So this Friday after work I went in armed with four weeks of coupon flyers, my ad, printable coupons and even some store coupons I had mailed to me.  I got some good deals because my store adds a bit to the coupon as a match (50% up to $.50.)  My pantry is loaded with named brand soups, pasta, sauces, refried beans and the freezer has frozen pizza, garlic bread, etc.

1.  I spent $42 over my budget - but I did get a lot of stuff.  I was in the store for over 2 hours, looking through coupons, checking deals, etc.!! 

2.  Some of the stuff included 8 bags of Halloween candy - well I got $1 off three bags, they were on sale, they had an instance $.75 on each bag and the store matched the coupon by $.50 - So $3 in coupons minus the sale price for three bags.  Then I had more coupons and more sales, so I am good for Halloween, wow, what a deal.  BUT we have never had Halloween at this house and we are on a dirt road back in the woods - if we get 10 kids I will be shocked.  So who will eat all that candy??? HMMMmmm  (I did buy things I like!)

3.  I am making DH lunch this morning and had enough lunchmeat for one sandwich - his 2nd sandwich was a PBJ.  I forgot to get his lunchmeat!!  I didn't stick to my routine so I forgot and have to run out today for a few things that were not on my coupon list.

4.  I have no idea what the meal plan is for this week!!  DH wants chicken marsala and I have the chicken, linguine, but no mushrooms!!  So back I go.

Lesson learned:  I do better if I stick to a menu plan created by scanning the ads, and by all means WRITE A LIST and carry cash!

Oh, and then I felt so good about my grocery hall, I went out clothes shopping and spend $223!!  Ok, I needed some nicer things for work, and it was buy one top, get one half off, and $25 off over $100 as well.  Arggghhh!

Sales and coupons - KEEP ME AWAY!!




Avatar for Jessicah2013
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2013
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 10:48pm
Coupons are nice for online shopping or for times when you are low on money. However, I do see your point. It can be easy to spend more than if you were not going to use them. However, as long as you are not totally broke at least you got more for your money. :) I do see your point though. But don't be too hard on yourself. It happens to everyone.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Mon, 10-29-2012 - 11:23am
Yes, Bumbling, you are talking about exactly what I usually do: Look at store ads, make a menu plan for the week, check my pantry for items needed and items I am low on to see if those are on sale, then go in armed with my list and cash. That generally means about $75-80 a week for DH and I. We eat breakfast from home, pack lunches and make 5 of 7 days dinners at home. So we generally only go out twice a week if that (and one is fast food on our way up north.) Then every quarter or so I go to Costco for a big staples shop, mostly meats. That means it averaged us about $100 week. We like our one night a week datenight and won't give that up as we earned it by paying off a lot of debt previously.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Mon, 10-29-2012 - 11:18am
Tracy - I went to that store your mom works at! LOL
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2008
Wed, 10-24-2012 - 10:05pm
That's how I felt at first too. Although I don't think I've ever spent $223 on clothes at one time! LOL! It just takes a little time and effort before you get to the store. There are plenty of sites that help you match up sales and coupons for free and you can make your list and menu beforehand. But if it doesn't work for you, that's fine. Just means more deals for the rest of us! LOL!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Tue, 10-23-2012 - 1:39am

I, too, find that coupons don't work as I buy mostly unprocessed foods, often directly from the farmers. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 8:33pm

I live in Canada so we don't have any store coupon/match deals. In fact, a lot of coupons will say "not to be combined with another offer." Our coupons always expire quite quickly (like in a week or even weekend!).

The only coupons I do use are the ones that I get from surveys. So I do a survey on family tuna choices and they mail me very large coupons (like $1.50 off a $1.99 can)...and I earn survey points to be used for gift certificates.

DH and I are low carbers so we don't have a lot of packaged foods- mostly meat, cheese, eggs, veggies & fruit. So most of those things never have coupons (except canned meats).

I do feel when I see ppl couponing that I am missing out too. But really, the TIME it takes and mental energy to keep track...I do have easier ways to make money and not worry about it...

I do my meal planning on the fly at the supermarket. When I see what meat is on sale that week, it usually requires a "warehouse" (or bulk) purchase to take advantage and get the deal. Last week was chicken so it was roast chicken, country fried chicken, homemade chicken noodle soup & curry chicken...and this week flank steak was on sale so I've made buttered pan seared steak, steak fajitas and stew...

If I am missing ingredients, I never go back to the store. I just create a new tweak on the recipe :)


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2012
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 6:19pm

I have always found that I spend way more when using coupons because I always bought things I didn't need and also, a lot more snacks. I recently switched to Trader Joes and I don't think they even take them.  If I happen to see a great coupon in the free, weekly paper I will use it- for say, razors or toilet paper.  Does anyone else shop Trader Joe's?  I really love their products and they claim no GMO's, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial ingredients. And, their prices are awesome!

I totally agree with Bumbling with the "Horders" that stockpile stuff they may never use just because it's free. Pure waste unless you donate it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2001
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 2:23pm

As someone who coupons, I hear this sort of thing A LOT from people.  But, if I dare say, I think you are doing it wrong.

First and foremost, those couponing shows are complete lies.  The savings they show are prefixed by the stores ahead of time (one show even took place at a store that doesn't actually honor coupons.)   Secondly there are many people who use coupons to stockpile a bunch of prepackaged junk food or toothpaste or tampons, etc . . ..  Honestly I think of those people more as "horders" than couponers . . . I mean common sense should tell you that spending ANY money on an item you wouldn't normally buy (and/or don't need) doesn't SAVE you money - if fact it LOSES you money (so you really shouldn't have purchased any of the halloween candy - that's a rookie mistake  - lol).

I think the secrete to saving at the grocery store is to always use a list, but let the week's stores "loss leaders" (the advertised big sale item Ie; Chicken for .89/lb) dictate your meal plan for the week.  If you want to save even more, then start stockplling these "loss leader" items when they are particularly good to get you through the periods when none of the stores seem to have any decent sales for the week (in which case your freezer starts dictating your meal plan).

If you start reviewing each week's ads you will start to see some sale trends in your area.  For example, in our area there is a particular gas station chain that uses continual "loss leaders" pricing on milk, butter, eggs, potatoes, onions and bananas to bring people to their stations.  Occassionaly I can find these foods for less, but it very rarely so it really isn't worth my time to bother tracking these items elsewhere or to bother to look for coupons for them.

By tracking the area grocery store ads, I've also learned that one particular grocery store chain in our area offers these "meat blowout" sales quarterly.  They offer good quality locally grown meat at really good "loss leading" pricing four times a year, and I make a point now to save some of my grocery budget weekly to use to stockpile my freezer when they do have this sale.  The store I go to isn't a store I would usually shop at because it is a little further away than I normally like to go, but this type of sale makes it well worth the drive.

Only after doing these things do I consider using coupons to fill in the rest of my needs.  And the only real good way to make that work is to find a store that offers their own coupons and accepts manufacturing coupons (which means you can "stack" the savings by using two coupons for the same item), AND doubles coupons (which means they will double the price of each coupon up to so many coupons - ie; 10 coupons.  The store I go to actually "doubles doubles" coupons twice a week (doubles up to 20 coupons in one shopping trip or one cart load - if they don't mind you splitting your order into more than one cartload (though some consider this bad "couponing etiquette" since it can hold up the line for others).

And, again, I would never use a coupon for something I wouldn't normally buy or don't currently need.  And even though I'd say almost 80-90% of coupons are for prepackaged junk, there are still many really good coupons out there.   If you regular use coupons you get good at quickly wading through the worhless ones and finding the ones you will actually use.  Also there are some really good websites out there that will tell you which coupons to use at which store to save the most that week (I don't often use the sites because they have a lot of the halloween candy/ prepackaged cold cereal/ namebrand soups sorts of deals that I don't really consider deals at all.) 

I regularly save between 50-65% on my coupon grocery trips which adds up quickly.

Couponing isn't for everyone.  And it does take time to learn, but once you learn how to do it effectively it boggles your mind that other people pay fully price without even thinking about it.




Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 1:33pm
We have went to a mostly non-processed/less ready made/more in-season foods menu, except for some baked goods, some items for the kids' lunches such as granola bars and yogurt, and I'm sure at the holidays we will use some more as i do some christmas baking, so coupons really don't work for us at all either. Like other posters said, just sticking with your routine of menu planning around the ads and then incorporating in coupons for things already planning on buying. That was one thing I did find when using coupons, I ended up buying more than I planned or needed because of the coupon and sometimes had more waste.
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 1:18pm

I think the trick is to be able to do both.  Plan your meals all the while taking advantage of coupons.  I am not good at it, either. 

For a while I was able to get some good sales on some things that we do use frequently.  But like Bex said, it is so easy to get carried away.  I only go the more expensive grocery stores with a list of what is on sale or I have coupons for.  I already know I still have to go by another store for every thing else.  Or I end up like you did, forgetting things. 

I live so close to everything that it isn't a big deal.  But if it was a long drive, I would do what works for you.  You can still keep your eye out for coupons and save a buck here and there, but it sounds like you already have a system that works.