Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, Coupons Can Save You a Buttload of Money

by Katy on June 30, 2012 · 19 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!  And for those of you who still believe coupons are only for junk, I used coupons yesterday for Tillamook pepper jack cheese, pistachios and Tillamook ice cream. And yes, I doubled them  🙂

What do restaurant meals, bowling and, ahem, personal waxing all have in common? Easy. They’re all items/services you’d be foolhardy to approach without a coupon in hand. No longer are coupons relegated to the grocery and drug store aisles. Coupons today are for anything and everything. And yes, I use them.

I do not consider myself to be a big couponer. More than most people I suppose, but certainly nothing when compared to the likes of those profiled on TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Unlike those shoppers, I do not buy coupons on eBay, nor do I look beyond my Sunday paper, grocery circulars and occasional Facebook coupons. (“Like” Tillamook cheese for $1 off coupon type of deal.) I’m not sure how much I save with coupons, but I try not to buy anything I would not otherwise have wanted. I also buy a $20 Chinook Book every year, which are sold as school fundraisers and are filled with eco-friendly coupons for local businesses. I spend maybe ten minutes every other week clipping and organizing.

I carry a small coupon organizer in my purse, which pretty much screams sexless middle-aged mom to anyone who might be on the prowl. But that’s okay.

But just because there are horrifyingly extreme couponers being profiled on TV, doesn’t mean you have to mirror their methods to benefit from couponing. You can benefit from coupons without being an insane stockpiler of paper towels, over the counter medicine and frozen pot pies.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “I would never be caught dead couponing. I only buy organic quinoa in 50 pound hemp sacks, which I then upcycle into scratchy baby blankets.”

So yeah, maybe food couponing will never be your cup of tea, (although The Chinook Book has Bob’s Red Mill coupons) but if you leave the house and pay for services, there’s still money to be saved. Here’s how:

Groupon: (Or, Living Social and Mobba, etc.) These group buying sites offer at least 50% discounts on at least one thing per day for your specific area. (I have bought coupons for local coffee shops, Blazers tickets, bowling, baked goods, movie tickets, Redbox rentals and even a Shutterfly photo book.) The hitch is that the deal is not official until a certain number of people buy in, but it’s so popular that this rarely, (if ever) happens. Most of the coupons are for weird things like waxing, tooth whitening, and the like. But if you get on their e-mail list, you’re almost certain to find something you want.

Internet Coupons: Whenever I’m going to buy something from a national company, (think rental cars or hotels!) I run a quick internet search to see if there’s a coupon or coupon code available. It only takes a few minutes and is almost always worth the effort. Just do a search for “coupon code” plus wherever you’re shopping. Also, sites like and can be a surprisingly good sources for printable coupons.

Recently, I was researching a medication that one of my family members take, and I came across a 50% off your co-pay for a year coupon. This will save us hundreds of dollars, and I would never would have thought to look for a prescription medication coupon. But there it was, and the fine folks over at Walgreen’s didn’t even bat an eye!

This got me wondering about other bizarre coupons, so I asked the Facebook readers over at Frugal Living NW “What are some of the oddest things you’ve been able to use coupons for?”

Here are a few of the responses:

  • Erika: Condoms
  • Tomina: A Christmas tree (not artificial)
  • Stephanie: I couponed my wedding dress!!
  • Emilie: Our friends found a coupon towards their new home purchase…that is the craziest one I’ve heard of!
  • Brandi: KY Intense lubricant and I’m glad I tried it. So is hubby.
  • Kathi: Wine and vodka.

Are you seeing a pattern here? No? Good, because there is none. Because coupons today are for everything!

I am dying to watch an episode or two of Extreme Couponing, as I feel that amidst the insanity there is something to be learned. But barring that, (I am cable TV free) I will just watch the online snippets and enjoy my middle-aged life. Coupon organizer and all.

Are you a coupon-phile or coupon-o-phobe? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lili@creativesavv June 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I don’t bother with cents off coupons, but I look for large $ amount ones. In the last year, I have found coupons for $7.99 haircuts, $2 off shoes, combined with a 40% off shoes with an internet birthday coupon, and free $10 gift card from the mall,where shoe store was located, also an internet birthday freebie (paid $8.50 for shoes that were tagged $25) , 10% off car repairs (saved $80 with that one), 50% off craft supplies for making gifts (have saved about $40 over the course of a year). I will also use any coupons that are a part of a grocery store ad, as they are often a very good deal.
Coupons are definitely not just for junky food!


Anna June 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I would like a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette, but am too cheap to buy it! I found a used copy on Ebay for $9.80. Is it worth that much?


Katy June 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I love this book. Maybe you should check it out from the library first to see if it’s something you want to own.



Anna July 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Small but awesome town = small but generally awesome library, but I don’t think they have this one. I may have to bite the bullet and make a purchase. 🙂 Love your blog!


Lili@creativesavv July 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Hi Anna,
You could ask your library about inter-library loans for this book. Then you could read through it and see if you want to own it. I’ve done inter-library loans for research before. I don’t like to overuse this service, as there is some cost to the libraries involved. You could also ask around. A friend may have a copy they’d loan you. Or, one other possibility — spend an hour in your bookstore skimming the book to see if you’d want to spend money for it. Then go home and order through Ebay or one of Amazon used booksellers.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land July 1, 2012 at 5:13 am

I am a grocery coupon hater (in general). I love pistachios, but I’d rather eat peanuts and not have to look for coupons or go to normal stores to redeem them. I love ice cream, but even on sale, you get a pesky, wasteful package, and I can make my own. As for the cheese, I can get a big block from the food service store or the salvage store for the same price and don’t have to go regular stores, ever, don’t need to look at ads at all, and don’t need to cut the coupons out. The Tilamook cheese might be a little better, but as long as the other one is good enough, I’m happy, and I save lots of time.

I’m not going to say no one should use a coupon, but I dare to guess frugal people who don’t use coupons probably spend less money overall and less time on shopping than frugal people who do, even though they might miss the occasional bargain. And they almost certainly create less trash.


Linda from Mass July 1, 2012 at 5:18 am

I coupon and love it. I spend about 1 hour each week planning my shopping trip and I save a good amount. This week’s shopping was $57 and I spent about $25 out of pocket. I never buy coupons on ebay. I don’t even buy a newspaper. Friends who do not use coupons just give me the inserts. I don’t generally print coupons because there are so many good coupons in the newspaper. You don’t need to be extreme to save a bunch of money. There are couponing sites that will match the coupon with the sales each week for you. Just print off the list and go shopping with your coupons. I don’t even clip coupons until I need them or unless I know that I will buy the product.


Lily July 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

In Italy you it’s rare to find coupons for specific items like 10-20 years ago. But supermarkest have gotten into the habit of giving coupons for a discount on the next shopping you do there, which is not bad (10% of the total).

I get coupons by taking survey – 10 euros each – which you can use in several stores (chains or individual stores). And I got a pair of cinema tickets thanks to my gas company, which I reallyyy liked.


Lily July 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

(Why “in Italy you…”? Sorry for not proofreading)


Bellen July 1, 2012 at 7:07 am

Coupons are great if you can find them, using them saves you money, you don’t have to go out of your way to use them, and you use them on products you would normally buy. Doubling coupons is never done in our area – bummer!

Now, with just my husband and I the coupons we normally use are for haircuts, save $4 each time; personal care items like shampoo & I combine it with a BOGO deal; and the occasional yogurt or cheese.

We buy store brands so usually the coupon doesn’t make the cost less than the store brand. We raise our veggies & cook from scratch and coupons on meat/chicken/fish are hard to come buy. We don’t go out to eat so restaurant coupons are never used. Coupons for movies – never go, wait for them to come out & rent them – do use Redbox coupons occasionally.

The one ‘coupon’ habit I have is watching for internet companies that offer free shipping on sale items or freebies if you’re a new customer.
I just got a free personalized card (reg $2.99) for my granddaughter and a tote bag with 3 of my own photos for $1 (reg $8.99) plus the $3.99 shipping for my grandson. Good deals and the grandkids have something no one else will have.

For me it comes down to knowing prices and just shopping wisely.


Megg July 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

I don’t like because there’s always an amount you HAVE to spend, and it’s usually above the gift card. I understand why they do that, and I’m sure it’s worth it for some people, but we don’t usually spend the cap at most of those restaurants so it’s not as lucrative for a family of two as it might be for a family of 4 (or more).


Liz July 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

The coupons I use most are for health and beauty items and for the very few household cleaners I still buy. I take specialty eye supplements, and signed up with the vendor’s site to get a newsletter which always has coupons for their products. I am going to buy them anyway and would just rather pay less for them.


Lissa July 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I used to use coupons almost exclusively, for groceries, personal care products, restaurants, and tickets. I joined Groupon, Living Social, and Google Deals, and rarely paid full price for anything.

But all of those online coupon services sold my personal information, and I’m inundated with junk. I receive so much unsolicited mail, it would take 20-30 minutes a day to review it in any detail. So, I auto-recycle all of the junk mail, shop at the local stores with the best quality and pay attention to their sale signs/racks, and reserve my time and focus for the things that matter most. When I avoid magazines, newspapers, and printed advertisements, I naturally buy less anyway.


D. Savage July 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I used to be a huge couponer; not like on TV, but enough to save quite a bit. We’ve since moved to a semi-remote area. I still coupon, but i have to be happy getting a few dollars off for the month. We never used Groupon when we were in a larger city, and can’t even get them for our area now. I still have enough shampoo to last several years. (Some because my husband decided to shave his head from now on.)


Kimberly July 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I used to coupon a lot more than I do. I quit getting the newspaper because the subscription cost more than I actually saved. We are buying less processed foods, fewer name brands, and so hardcore couponing wasn’t working for us anymore. But I still print one now and again.


Bauunny July 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I love coupons but don’t use many of the coupons that come in the newspaper from national brands. I do find some for local businesses in the paper (like the garden centers). I have used groupon to get discounts on a facial from a business I know, a hot stone massage from a practitioner I had heard good things about and for yoga classes from a place I attend. If I order on line I try to go to “” to see if there are active coupons for free shipping or discounts. I get coupons from my auto dealer for service on my 9 year old car and those can be very nice savings. My favorite coupons are the ones I get during my birthday month and I drive myself crazy trying to use them up if I can. I am currently reading a great book called “The Hoarder In You” by Dr. Robin Zazio. Her contention is that we are all somewhere on the hoarding spectrum…….somewhere in our life. I think the super-CPU omers who buy stuff just because it is cheap or free are a bit over the top. That said, who hasn’t bought something just because it was a “deal”.


Shannon July 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I always try to find a$5 off coupon if we want to eat out. I can still find deals on things like shampoo, bar soap and dish soap. Lately I’m seeing more for things like produce, veggie burgers, and organic cereals and pasta sauces. Condiments are another easy place to match up the coupons with sales. my personal guidelines are that I won’t spend more than an hour a week on it, I compare the final price with other brands or sizes to check if it’s a really good deal, and unless I’m blown away by deals it’s not worth my time to shop multiple stores,, as this just increases my odds of impulse buying. Oh, and since the TLC shows have aired, I’m really not finding match-ups that end up being free any more , anyone else notice this?


Jo H. July 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm

We don’t get a lot of coupons in my area, mostly for health & beauty and for new convenience foods. I only use them if I would be buying the product anyway, which is a point I can’t stress enough. The best coupon I ever had, though, was from a local group selling coupon books for local businesses – we got $500 off the new car we were already planning to buy.


Tina July 3, 2012 at 5:04 am

Currently my car is in the shop for some routine maintainence. I went on there website and found a $45 off coupon. Hot diggity! I always look for a coupon when I can… you never know where you will find the discounts 🙂


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