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

by Katy on April 6, 2011 · 65 comments

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”

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Roman Apartment April 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The scratchy baby blanket line made my day.


Katy April 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Thank you. 😉



Kate April 7, 2011 at 12:33 am

I agree – the scratchy baby blanket line rocks. I am trying to use coupons! But I agree with you – I don’t want to buy things I won’t use or eat. That being said, if I can score some free or nearly free things that can be donated to food banks or women’s shelters, I’m all for deals. I try to get all my basics (chicken, cheese, butter, pet food, produce, bread, and personal products like shampoo & tampons, etc.) on sale or in bulk, and splurge on specialty items once in awhile to round out my pantry & freezer.


Kate April 7, 2011 at 12:35 am

I forgot to add that I also love the Chinook book! You can also buy them at Costco for around $12!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl April 7, 2011 at 2:23 am

I used to be a coupon queen, but that’s changed over the last 10 years or so. I don’t buy organic quinoa in hemp bags (hee) but I have moved towards less processed food and more local food, which means that coupons have become increasingly useless to me.

Oh, and private-label stuff, esp. the uber-cheap, but mostly very good private label Aldi products, have encouraged me to give up coupons. I’d have to work really, really hard to coupon enough to beat Aldi’s everyday prices.


Abby April 7, 2011 at 2:31 am

I watched Extreme Couponing, and I have to admit that I was mildly horrified. I do use coupons – in fact, I often scored free toothpaste and pasta – but there is a point where it starts to feel gluttonous. Coupons are great, but they’re still a form of consumption.


Tracy Balazy April 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Abby, I totally agree. I watched that show once, and I don’t think I could bring myself to watch it again. Those people are such extreme consumers!!


Lilypad May 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm

My son (9) and I watch it occasionally and he gets very upset at the people buying stuff they don’t need just because it’s “free” or a good deal, like the lady with no kids stockpiling diapers. He always shouts at the screen and says they should donate stuff to the food bank. So it is worthwhile, if you want to shock your kids with how stupid some people’s buying habits are!


Marianne April 7, 2011 at 2:43 am

I dont look for coupons because ive found they are usually for things i wouldnt buy. But the print out coupons i get at the register are usually good for $5 off my next shopping order or free eggs,bread etc. I love love love groupon and have found incredible half off deals. I also check radio station websites for half off deals to local businessess. Its great for gift giving ideas. And i also used a coupon while selling my house. My agent had a listing book that if you used him you could get $500 of his agen fee. 🙂


The Mrs April 7, 2011 at 3:01 am

I use coupons – not well, obviously – For things that we actually use, and in reasonable amounts, but we live by comparing unit prices.

Most of the time the giant bags of no name staples like flour and rice are cheaper than anything you can get with a coupon, and we use it up. Oh my, do we use it up.


Valerie April 7, 2011 at 3:57 am

I’m a clipper, too, and have to admit to digging through local recycling bins for extra Sunday circulars. It does feel like a huge score when I find a booklet that I know will net me free salad dressing.

However, my fiancee is on ‘stockpile watch,’ so if I have the opportunity to acquire more than four of anything, it’s an automatic rule that we give the surplus away to family, friends or charity. It’s great to drop off a sack of free toothpaste, toothbrushes and deoderant to the local shelters.

Still, I struggle with the extraneous packaging of most products and just last week I had to the opportunity to get 10 free boxes of Uncle Ben’s brown rice, but I opted for the store-brand 3-pound bag because it was less waste. Free is good, but it’s not always the best.


Alicen April 7, 2011 at 4:08 am

When researching laser eye surgery I found a coupon online for $200 off for members of a certain medical insurance company. When I went in to have it done and showed them the coupon, they took $200 (PER EYE) off my bill and never even asked to see the medical insurance card… which I didn’t have because I don’t have my plan with that company!
I was quite impressed with my couponing that day.

In general though, Canada is a tougher place for coupons than the US. They aren’t so widely available and the stores don’t double them.


NMPatricia April 7, 2011 at 4:16 am

I can second many of the comments. What I buy at the grocery store usually doesn’t have coupons to go with it. However, they do get used on occasion. Albertson’s does a 10% off the total bill on the first Wednesday of the month for senior citizens so I do all my Albertson’s shopping that day. Wish we had an Aldi’s here from all I have read about it. We treat ourselves, very conciously, to meals out and frequently use coupons for those adventures.

On a totally off topic comment (hope this is OK), I just bought Tillamook (for which I didn’t have a coupon, but got 10% off anyway) cheese yesterday and almost fainted from sticker shock. Either I haven’t been paying attention or it has taken a jump. It couldn’t have been that long ago when it was regularly $4.99 for a 2 lb block and regularly on sale for $3.99. Yesterday, it was $9.99. Now I know that I could get cheaper cheese, but I have elected to eat less and eat better. It is the only one I really like the the taste. Is this the result of a jump in price of commodities (corn??) or is something else going on.


Lisa Under the Redwoods April 7, 2011 at 4:33 am

I use coupons for somethings, and when we go out to eat we always look to see if we can find restaurant coupons. Even though I try to keep a really full pantry, I couldn’t ever be one of the extreme couponers. I simple don’t have the space, or the need, for all of that.


Cyndel@Warning:LifeContent April 7, 2011 at 4:50 am

First, I LOVE coupons. With that being said, I should now tell you that I don’t really use them. I can’t rationalize getting a newspaper every Sunday because the rest of the paper would not get read. Even though I recycle, I still feel like that’s a poor use of resources. I mainly take coupons from friends and family members who don’t use them. This works great, but doesn’t happen all that often. Occasionally, I print out coupons. Once, I ordered coupons from a cutting service, but wound up not using most of them. When I do get the coupons, I love to use them. My grocery store doubles anything under $1, which makes for great deals!

I really want to use more coupons, but it just doesn’t seem to be working for me.


Angela@beggingtheanswer April 7, 2011 at 5:07 am

I’m a big fan of Groupon – not only for the savings, but also because it encourages me to try out local businesses that I otherwise might not patronize.

I do use the occasional grocery store coupon, but I don’t really go out of my way to seek them out. I watched extreme couponing, and was honestly a little aghast at the practice. It wasn’t the stockpiling that bothered me. It was that they seemed to be taking unfair advantage of the system. Couponing in general is awesome, but something about purchasing $500 worth of groceries for $25 just didn’t sit well with me.


Abby April 7, 2011 at 5:44 am

Angela, I agree – I also hate the idea that they’re clearing off shelves. Why not leave enough for everyone?


Jessica April 7, 2011 at 5:50 am

I don’t use coupons very often for a few reasons: We don’t get a Sunday paper (it would feel like a waste, and I don’t think we’d get enough savings from it); it seems you have to sort through many, many coupons to find ones that aren’t for processed foods (we buy a lot of fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, meat–the base ingredients that I don’t see a lot of coupons for); we have a pretty small budget for “entertainment” so most non-food coupons would require us spending more money than we would have otherwise.

That said, we do love, especially because it’s introduced us to new, local restaurants.


Anita April 7, 2011 at 6:30 am

Love this topic. I went to a couponing class about a month ago, and I’m still working out the kinks, but I’m enjoying saving some money. It does take a bit of work, and organization, but lots of blogs and websites help shoppers out. Our grocery chain offers buy one get one free sales weekly and pair that up with a coupon and you are really saving money. I have used Groupon and Living social, best deals, Amazon and B&N, and a $10 yearly Sunday only newspaper subscription. I’m never going to hoard, who has the space? I like saving any money I can on what we eat and personal care items.


mary b April 7, 2011 at 6:45 am

I do use coupons regularly, and it has cut my grocery bill dramatically. I realize the popular misconception is that coupons are for junk food, but it is wrong! I find plenty of coupons for meat, produce, organics, dairy, and of course toiletries, medication, and cleaning products.
I feel it is my job as the primary shopper to make our money go as far as it can. With spending about 1 hour a week I am able to do that.
Yes I have over a dozen jars of natural Peanut Butter in the pantry, (that cost about .10 jar w/coupons) but that will be gone in a flash with 2 growing boys. Spend $1.20 for 12 jars or spend about $24 for 12 jars, that is a no brainer!


Dianna April 7, 2011 at 6:52 am

Im all for stocking up on things when on sale and buying some things in bulk but dishwashing tabs when you do not even have a dishwasher? 60+ bottles of mustard? I use coupons (mostly printable) and try to save what I can but like the others I buy produce, meat, oatmeal, yogurt, milk and very few overly processed foods therefore I would not benefit from coupons to get 40+ bags of chips for free or nearly free. I did watch the shows and to me for the most part some of the couponers were less like “hoarders” in the newer episodes than in the very first show. I am all for stockpiling or stocking up on things you need and can use in a resonable amount of time but I am not going to let it consume my life.


Martine April 7, 2011 at 6:55 am

Grocery couponing in Canada is not great, but Groupon and other sites like them are wonderful. I have used Groupon to take my children bowling, print photos and a museum membership.


robyn April 7, 2011 at 6:58 am

Chinook Book is a great source for saving. I bought mine last year in the window of time where the 2010 book was still valid, but the 2011 book had already come out. I bought the 2011 book from Patina using their “$10 off a $20 purchase” coupon from the 2010 book. (I had to buy a few cards that day anyway!) So essentially I got the Chinook Book for $10 — a savings steal!


Rebecca April 7, 2011 at 7:30 am

I am sort of sick of hearing that “I only buy unprocessed food so there aren’t many coupons for me” excuse. If you don’t use them, ok, so what. But the coupons for produce, yougurt, cheese, eggs, meat, milk, oats, flour etc do exist, even for gluten free and organics. A web search gives me quite a few each week.

I honestly don’t care whether people use them or not, I’m just tired of the excuses, as though people are afraid of owning their decisions one way or the other. Rant over.


Dianna April 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

I know they do exist and I use some but it also depends on part of the country you live in and the brands sold. Here the milk choices are walmarts brand and Coleman. A coupon for Coleman still does not make it cheaper than the walmart brand milk. (walmart milk here on sunday was 3.93, Coleman 4.65) Yes they are out there but the majority of the coupons are for the type of foods many do not buy due to diet restrictions or choices.


Reese April 7, 2011 at 8:23 am

I guess I would beg to differ. I live in Chicagoland, and finding coupons for an all-natural store are impossible–because those stores don’t give them out. I often look for sales at the store I buy and grind my spices, but they don’t give them out.

Most farmers and local markets don’t give out coupons. Period.

It’s not an excuse but rather a fact. Coupons for non-processed, fresh items are hard to come by and in limited quanitity. They are not as prolific as pre-packaged, widely sold foods because most companies dont have the marketing budget to produce them, nor the inclination to lower prices further.

I only use coupons on toiletries, paper products, etc. And paired with sales, it’s a decent amount. But for unprocessed foods its hard. And there aren’t many coupons out there.

Rant over.


Jessica April 7, 2011 at 8:35 am

Rebecca, do you have any specific sites where you’ve been able to find these types of coupons? I’ve found just doing a general “web search” to be frustrating and unproductive, and while I go through coupons sent from our local grocery store, I find they tend to be for the aforementioned processed, heavily packaged foods. Would love to hear where you’ve found these elusive coupons.


hippierunner April 7, 2011 at 11:21 pm

They are not in abundance but there are some ‘health food’ coupons here


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl April 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Rebecca-that depends on how unprocessed you’re talking. If you want to eat local, low-packaging foods, then coupons are just flat-out not available.

Like Reese said, there don’t tend to be coupons for farmer’s markets and such. Local beef and chicken are the same way.

And then too, you can find coupons for stuff like yogurt, but I’ve hardly ever seen them for quarts of plain yogurt (usually they’re for cups and flavored yogurts). For me, buying a gallon of Aldi brand milk and making my yogurt is a better, cheaper choice.

I do use some coupons (for toiletries, and for some foods like cereal, which we have not managed to give up completely), but for the most part, as I’ve moved towards a less processed, less-packaged, more local diet, coupons have become more and more useless to me.


Kathryn April 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The Mambo Sprouts website is a good resource for coupons for natural and organic foods. I’ve seen them offer coupons for minimally processed foods like rice, frozen fruits/veggies, and milk/butter/cheese. I’ve also had good success with websites for specific brands of organic/natural food. E.g., you can register on the Stonyfield Farms website and print monthly coupons for milk or yogurt (including quarts of plain yogurt).


hippierunner April 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

It is harder to coupon if you don’t eat the Standard American Diet. Anyone eating unprocessed food doesn’t go for yogurt, cheese, meat, milk, etc; I know I don’t. Gluten-free and organic food can be processed food; let’s just all pray for the day we get coupons for fruits and veggies.


Anne Marie @ Married to the Empire April 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

I adore coupons. In addition to food and toiletries, I’ve used coupons at restaurants, on prescription drugs, at the chiropractor’s office (whenver they send them out, which is somewhat rare), for taking our youth group ice skating, etc. There are so many great coupons out there for so many things!


Glenna April 7, 2011 at 11:47 am

I watched the TLC’s Extreme Couponing last night…part of me said WOW that is great and the other part said this is like the show Hoarders (but with food). I’m all for a good deal on non-perishables but the dude who stockpiled over 100 bottles of salad dressing is extreme. Anything with an expiration date should not be hoarded above what a reasonably sane family could consume…unless you are supporting your local food bank. Buying stuff for pennies is not a good deal if it ends up in the trash


Jill; April 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I watched the Extreme Couponging show. I admire that these ladies are trying to save money and support their families. But I agreee with Glenna that some of it needs to be donated to food banks. 77 bottles of mustard is too much ( and gross). That seems like greed to me.


ChasAnon April 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I did watch that show last night and a few things really bothered me and I’m wondering if I’m the only one.

-Some things are not worth ‘stockpiling’ even if free or nearly free, a woman bought 60+ bottles of yellow mustard ina small household where the husband doesn’t eat mustard. This seems like a waste of time/space not to mention the poor mom who needs to pick up one mustard on sale for her family and finds the shelf empty.

-A lot of these people kept saying ‘i’ve saved 40 thousand dollars this way!’ and i think that is a terribly misconstrued view of savings. Having 150 candy bars and hundreds of years of deodarant in the garage bought for pennies is not the 40k of savings. The only legitimate way to say i’ve saved 40 thousand dollars is if you have a bank account with that balance. That’s like folks that go shopping for new clothes they don’t need but say they ‘saved x$’.


namastemama April 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

you are not the only one.
First, In all the commercials I have seen the people are fat. The entire practice is gluttonous. Are there multiple families going in on the shopping trips? Is this a community effort? Seems like a lot of diva/me,me,me here. I would much rather see these families spend all this time and effort in growing much of their own food or any food practice that benefits society. Think of all the commercials played during the show. The entire show speaks to our consumer culture.
My hubby bought milk today. He paid the family cash for the raw milk and supplied our reusable bottles. Yesterday I bought totally free range chickens and eggs. Again, with cash. I am able to barter some professional pictures for food because one family has a new baby.
If I didn’t have any money and a lot of time I guess I would be tempted to extreme coupon but then again if I didn’t have any money I would qualify for food stamps and not have too(see your food stamp challenge blog 🙂 I’ve found that cutting down my shopping and making more from scratch has saved our family money and I can spend my time doing activities I love.


Katy April 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Mustard smoothies?



Cindy April 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Oh, GROSS!!!


Lynda April 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I read somewhere that the extreme couponer’s sell their overages on ebay and/or Craigs List…so maybe that’s how they can *make* lots of $$$.


Kathleen Harris April 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Funny, my husband and I were talking about coupons after only using three tonight at checkout. We shop at Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, and a local chain that, until tonight, had signs stating that they did not take internet coupons other than their own (naturally, they accept “regular” coupons). My best use of coupons have been paper products/toiletries/health & beauty. I will use them if I can, but I’ve decided it does not make me a bad person if I don’t! 😉



Char April 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

We have been couponing for over a month now, and have done reasonably well. We wish we could score big like so many others seem to, but here in Washington, the only place we have found that will double (and then on a very limited basis) is Albertson’s. Can anyone find an answer as to why in Oregon, Safeway will double, but not here? Also, it seems like we go to Freddy’s and have it all figured out savings-wise, but when they ring it up, it does not match what we figured, and their slips are confusing.


Katy April 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Here Safeway only doubles four coupons for up to 50¢ apiece. I consider this to be free $2, and try to always use four coupons. Combine these with sales and it’s usually brag-worthy prices.



Cindy April 7, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I use coupons a lot. I probably have about a 6 month stockpile on the things I use most often or I can get the cheapest in a particular deal. I have ONE bottle of mustard in the pantry, not 56. Using coupons on things like toiletries and other items frees up money in the budget for me to buy more organic produce or free-range chicken instead of having to use those dollars to buy for example, southern grown packages of chicken legs for .39/lb. Those days are gone! I donate some of my excess to food pantries, backpack buddies, at-risk kids programs, and other needs as I see fit. Without the use of coupons, I would not be able to do that.


Krista April 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I’ve struggled with the wanting to coupon/save money for the family vs. wanting to eat healthfully/locally/organic dilemma as well. I went to a couponing seminar and was shocked to hear that the lady running it buys raw milk! She then went on to say that she uses coupons to save money on the things she needs to buy at the grocery store anyway (like toilet paper, etc.) to create more money in her food budget to buy grass fed beef and farmer’s market produce. I thought “YES! That is what I want to do!” I’m still a newbie at it, but just over the last month, I’m spending less at the grocery store and still building a pantry (not a crazy stockpile, but a couple month supply of staples) and it seems to be paying off!


Practical Parsimony April 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

I agree with Rebecca. I get the Sunday paper and get coupons from there mostly, never getting internet coupons, even though I should. The bit about two women shopping on the couponing show did not seem like hoarding at all. One had seven children. The other donated items to charity. Selling the items is another example of entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system. I supply my children, their spouses, and children with free toothpaste, stashed in with all gifts mailed to them. But, sometimes I have 4 dozen tubes of toothpaste on hand before I mail Christamas gifts, way too much for one person. I see nothing wrong with any of this.

As for organic coupons. They are in the newspaper all the time. Coupons abound for Silk and other soy products I would not eat on a bet. Paper products never enter my home. Purchases of toiletries are few and far between. Those even have coupons.

Fresh, local fruits and vegetables have no coupons, you say? Going at the end of the day is a perk comparable to coupons. Regular customers often buy the basket of tomatoes and the vendor throws in a basket of sick looking tomatoes, just not pretty, but as fresh as the ones purchased along with it. In this state, a program exists whereby low-income seniors get a $30 voucher for produce markets, vendors along the roads, and several other entities that sell produce they raise.

As for food stamps, I used those as frugally as I did cash I earned. I used coupons first, then swiped the fs card. I felt it was my duty to spend wisely and get the best deals. Often, my fs “money” was doubled by my use of coupons. The cashier and I were talking about this. She said there was another older woman who shopped like I did and with coupons.

Oh, dear, this is long. sigh


Practical Parsimony April 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Going at the end of the day was to the Farmer’s Market where local farmers bring their produce three times a week. That was sort of unclear in my comment above. I hope my comment was not seen as heated, just my very calmly written opinion that certainly cannot be embraced by everyone.


Willow April 8, 2011 at 12:42 am

I would say that I am a more modest extreme couponer. I do spend about $50 a month buying coupons off ebay. I easily save that and more on just groceries. I do not buy a lot of packaged stuff. We do eat a lot of breakfast cereal. Spending only about $0.50 a box saves us a lot of money. With coupons I often get yougurt nearly free. You can find produce coupons on occasion. Stores often have buy a certain number of boxes of cereal and get milk free sales. This week we have free milk from last week’s Albertsons promotion. Learning to combine store sales with store coupon and manufacturer coupons is a key. I live in WA so no doubles coupons except occasionly a few at Albertsons. My grocery budget for a family of 4 is $200-$300 a month.

But my biggest coupon savings is in the drug store items. I very rarely pay more than tax for any toiletries. I often make money when buying things at the drug store. How you ask? Here is an example. This week a certain brand of adult incontinece products are on sale at Rite Aid for $9.99 with a $9.99 single check rebate. This is Rite Aid’s rebate system where you can enter your receipt info online (takes about 30 seconds) and they send you a single check at the end of the month for all the rebate that month. No I don’t use adult bladder protection items. But I was able to go online and get a $2.50 coupon for this product. So I make $2.50 (minus tax). Then once or twice a year I have a yard sale or sell at the flea market. I price things at about half retail. About $5 for this product. So I make a net profit of about $7 for buying this product. And I do this for toothcare, OTC medications, sanitary products, haircare, lotion, soap, deoderant, makeup, etc.
I don’t buy the whole store out of a product. That is totally uncool. I make a few hundred dollars in extra cash each year and save a lot more. Sorry for the long post.


Twyla April 8, 2011 at 3:19 am

I am kind of anti-coupon. Maybe its different in other places, but here coupons are for brand name items and you can only use one per thing. So unless you really really *need* to buy the name, it still costs less to ignore the coupons and just buy store brand/brandless.
Oh sure I still collect the Superbucks from the pharmacy and the Canadian Tire dollars (more like cents). Those kind of things seem to work better because they have a cash value for whatever you want in that particular store and doesn’t promote brand dependancy.


Valerie April 8, 2011 at 5:09 am

I was a bit surprised to read some of the more ‘heated’ comments from both sides. I never realized there were so many angles and personal stances on couponing but I guess it’s like anything else involving money, there is an emotional component.

Thanks for opening up the dialogue.


Karen April 8, 2011 at 8:33 am

I use $3 to $10 off coupons for stores like Fresh and Easy and Safeway. If I’m going there anyway, why not? But the consumer cynic in me wonders why, if couponing is all that great for the consumer, manufacturers even give them out. Obviously, the point of coupons is to get people in the store buying more stuff, not to help consumers.

The bottom line is the total paid at the check out counter. I have never really found that my total is lower after using manufacturer coupons. It seems that some other purchase wipes out any potential savings.

But it could be that I am not as disciplined as others, even though I am a frugal buyer. I also wonder at the amount of time spent especially by the uber-couponers. Our time is worth something, right? And it often appears that women are doing the bulk of this type of couponing. Can it really be said that they are getting this stuff vastly reduced or “free” when one considers the time involved? To me, it seems they have swallowed the kool aid and are expressing the dark side of consumerism.


Katie April 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

“Can it really be said that they are getting this stuff vastly reduced or “free” when one considers the time involved?”

As far as I’m concerned, no. That level of dedication has to be impacting quality of life in other areas, even if it’s just eating into hobby time. While it’s a trade off that they seem to be willing to make, it seems like a massive involvement for items that do seem excessive to me (there was one link i was looking at that mentioned something like 50 tubes of deodorant-now, if you were to turn around and donate them to a women’s shelter and the like…)


Shannon April 8, 2011 at 8:47 am

I am a moderate coupon user—I clip every Sunday and check before shopping, plus visit a local matchup blog. I always have a stash of restaurant and pizza coupons, plus usually buy and Entertainment book from a neighbor kid every year (has coupons for restaurants, entertainment, retail, everything really.) However, I don’t have heaps of free time I’m willing to put forth like the ladies on the show! I basically have 3 places I shop—Aldi, Meijer (if I can find good matchups) and a country market that has ridiculously low prices on cold cuts, cheeses, bulk grains (yes quinoa, lol) and produce. On any given week I will hit one or two, but for me that’s enough. I love a good deal but I would feel weird buying 60 bottles of mustard. Or 60 of anything. (And I respectfully disagree that mustard doesn’t go bad…um they put a date on it, and I’ve had old mustard. It tastes weird!)
However, that program has inspired me to start checking the matchups for Krogers again!


Shannon April 8, 2011 at 8:51 am

Oh, adding…my favorite farmers market offers a $2 off coupon if you fill out a survey online. Their prices on staples are so cheap though that I actually feel a bit guilty using it, lol


Katie April 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

I’ve had conversations with people that stopped just short of upcycled quinoa blankets…

I like coupons, but coming out of a household where things were bought in large quantities just because they were on sale (even in a household of bbq eaters, no one needs 10 bottles of bullseye at a given time because it was at a good price) I try to be careful to make sure that I’m going to cover the cost of the paper while buying stuff we’ll actually use. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time and money.

I also do a lot of shopping at places that don’t carry coupon brands, which sometimes puts a damper on it. I do try to look for coupons for dry goods though.


Willow April 8, 2011 at 9:33 am

On the subject of impacting the quality of life I really disagree with people who think that extreme couponing will always be a negative thing. Does your job negatively impact the quality of your life? Only if you dislike it. Couponing is truely one of the few hobbies that saves you money rather than costing it. How much do your hobbies cost? I am a SAHM and I can devote a couple hours a day to couponing and it is good for me. And it helps me afford to stay home with my daughters. For the last six months I was also in school full time so I spent less time on couponing.


Melissa April 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

If I had been drinking milk when I read the part about the coupon organizer/sexless middle-aged mom, it would have come squirting out my nose. That is so exactly how I feel when I take that stupid thing to the store. As far as that show, it seemed like a significant loss of family income instigated a sort of extreme behavior that was comforting to those women. It’d be interesting to check back in with them in ten years and see if they maintained that level of commitment.


Susan April 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

I noticed the same thing — most of the TV couponers had suffered a severe financial hardship and the couponing helped them save $ and feel some control over their future. Realizing that helped me edit my internal judgmentalism (clear the shelf of mustard when hubby said he doesn’t even like it? Seems irrational.). I like Katy’s attitude on the show: look for tips that might work for my situation, leave the rest. Great comments here!


Cate April 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I use coupons at the grocery store on a weekly basis, but I rarely save extreme amounts of money…mostly a dollar here and a dollar there. Our grocery budget is minimal enough that I make most of our food from scratch (bread, yogurt, etc), and we purchase the bulk of our meat and produce at the farmers’ market, where there are no coupons. At the grocery store I tend to stick with store brands, and we buy a lot of products you can’t find coupons for at all, such as dried beans. I do save a lot of money on toiletries with coupons, though.

I use a lot of coupons for non-grocery expenditures, like pet food. Coupons also save me a lot of money on services. Last year I even used a coupon for $15off any spaying/neutering procedure at our local SNIP Clinic.


Indy April 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Can’t say I use coupons much for grocery items since I don’t each much in they way of prepared foods. I do use them from personal products like toothpaste, dog and cat food for my pets, but most of all.. I use the daily discounts. The local thrift store has a different discount for each day for the week. I’ll swing by on Thurdays for 10% for teachers, or swing by on Saturday when they have a random deal like buy one get one free on clothing or household items. The Indian grocery does something similar.


Sarah April 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

It’s nice to score on something you will actually use. But I cannot see stocking a garage with enough food to last the average family 105 years. (As was stated on another clip.) That’s not smart, it’s waste. And the clip of the couple buying all the candy bars in the store? I watched it and thought, “Where would I put all those candy bars?!?! Oh, wait, I know exactly where I’d put them and that’s the last thing I need to be doing!” Looking at the types of foods these people are buying, I have to wonder if they won’t more than make up for their savings in medical bills later on.


andrea devon April 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

hello katy… i found your site via small measure, and i am so glad i did. i’ve been laughing through all your articles already (hemp sacks of quinoa…hahaha!), and i am hooked! love your site and your charm, can’t wait to read more from you! i just wrote about homemaking some ‘beauty’ products so you don’t have to buy them! aloha from maui, andrea at bakerymanis


Valerie Heck April 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm

We got a Goupon Coupon for our area that was 1/2 off plane flying lessons. So I bought three lessons. Thought it would be fun!


Annette Campbell April 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

What about scratchy hemp bags of organic quinoa bought in bulk directly from a distributor and split between four friends? I was surprised that I didn’t see a mention of collaborative consumption–which is something that could really give coupons a run for their money, if you pardon the pun. I use coupons from time to time, but ever since I started getting HUGE discounts by buying in bulk with a few friends, carrying my coupon organizer has become a moot point. (So the sexless middle-aged woman can be someone else for a change!)

It’s not just for dry goods. The folks in my community have used collaborative consumption to get group discounts on classes, buy fresh produce from local farms, and even to split expensive equipment like lawnmowers. My friends and I use a free online tool called SplitStuff ( to organize ourselves (who will pick up the goods, make the order, or drop it off, etc.), and it has been working great.

Of course, as far as the personal waxing goes, you might want to pull out that coupon! 🙂



Kelly June 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Hi, Is the Chinook Book only for Portland? I live in Bend, OR and wondering if I can get it here. Love your blog!


Katy June 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm

The Chinook Book is just for Portland, although I know that there’s a Seattle one as well as a couple other cities. I don’t think Bend is one of them though.



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