Not for the FrugalOkie household. And not for 97 percent of coupon offers.
That’s a short answer, a gut-level opinion.
Here’s a slightly longer one. If you don’t consider your time to be worth anything, or if coupon clipping is treated as a hobby, then by all means coupon clip away.
But if your limited time on this earth is more productively spent engaged in other meaningful activities, such as making memories with friends or loved ones, or producing something of value (dinner, writing, gardening), then clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper or printing them from coupon websites carries a gigantic opportunity cost.
Direct costs. How about the ink to print out those “free” web coupons. Jet printer ink is some of the most expensive liquid on earth.
What about indirect time costs? Minutes spent putzing around grocery store aisles looking for that particular item, minutes spent online looking for the ones you want, minutes spent arranging them in those cute and “functional” coupon wallets, minutes of actual paying work traded to buy that coupon wallet, and finally, time spent throwing away those unusual items that you didn’t need anyways.
Why 97 percent?
Because some coupon offers do make sense, like store coupon cards from Target, Ace Hardware or Lowe’s that offer anywhere from $5 to $50 on bulk purchases. Now that is some real money! They usually come in the mail, so you have to save or discard that piece of mail anyway. We post them by magnet on the same on the refrigerator, along with a list of items needed in the medium term, so they’re a constant reminder that they have an expiry date. Braum’s, a local Oklahoma fast food/grocery/dairy chain, sends a pack once or twice a year of little coupons that offer $10 off on a $50 total purchase, $8 off on a $40 purchase, and so on down to $2. All told, it’s about $35. And they take very little time at all to carry in your wallet and stop in and buy certain food items at prices competitive to Walmart and Aldi and with superior quality. The dairy products at Braums are far superior to any carried by other grocery stores.
And generally speaking, we save more on groceries by other strategies like targeting special store offers, habitually choosing to purchase the store brand and staying away from the more expensive grocery stores.