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?

Posted on, February 16, 2014
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Comments
  1. Johana says:

    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.

  2. Lisa Anne says:

    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.

  3. TH says:

    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!

  4. Kathryn says:

    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.

  5. Heather R says:

    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.

  6. Eve says:

    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.

  7. Leslie says:

    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!!

  8. karen says:

    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.

  9. CMB says:

    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.

  10. Lori says:

    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

  11. joanne says:

    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.

  12. Theresa says:

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

  13. Theresa says:

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

  14. Kathryn says:

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

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