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To Clip or Not to Clip? The Great Coupon Debate

People love coupons. As you know, if you read my recent grocery challenge update, I am not one of those people. Not only are coupons not necessary for a thrifty lifestyle, but they can even be detrimental to your wallet and your budget (our credit counseling advice is to always consider whether you’re actually saving money or not). According to Nielson Clearing House (NCH), 78% of consumers report using coupons on a regular basis. This stat alone implies that my stand on coupons is not parallel with the majority. Although plenty of you won’t agree with me, the following are a few reasons why I don’t clip coupons.

ACCC encourages saving money - just make sure the coupon is a good deal.

ACCC encourages saving money – just make sure the coupon is a good deal.

You’re getting a discount on the higher priced items.
More often than not the coupons out there provide a discount on the items that are the priciest. Therefore, you are not getting the best deal on a specific item (i.e. cereal) you are just getting a discounted price on the already higher priced, premium item (i.e. brand name cereal). I’ve seen it first-hand (as I know I’ve mentioned before). I’ve clipped the coupon, gone to the store, and realized that I can get the same item (different brand) at a cheaper price without using a coupon.

Coupons aren’t healthy.
Most coupons out there are for foods that are high in fun but also high in fat. Need a discount on cookies, chips, sugary cereal, or frozen pizza? You’ll have no trouble finding one. But if you need a coupon for the essentials such as produce or other healthy staples, good luck to you. To add to this point, most coupons promote the over-packaged and over-processed food, which are not only bad for your health, but cost more to begin with anyway.

Usually you have to buy an item (or multiple items) in order to even get a discount.
Buy 3 jugs of laundry detergent get 2 free. Why do I need 5 jugs of laundry detergent right now? Yes, in the long run the detergent is cheaper per jug if I buy it right now with the coupon. It just isn’t convenient to store all these items and go through the hassle. I can just put it in my budget to buy a jug of laundry detergent ever couple of months when I run out of it. The last thing I want is to become one of those extreme coupon people with a grocery store in my basement (I don’t even have a basement) and more deodorant than I can possibly use in my lifetime.

Coupons exist to push new products, or products that aren’t moving off the shelves.
The real motive behind coupons is to get you to buy new products, become loyal to certain bands and products, and to move the products that aren’t selling. First of all, if a product isn’t selling and you use the coupon to buy it (just because you have the coupon) then all you’ve done is bought a sub-par product that you didn’t need in the first place. If you use the coupon to buy a new item (that you didn’t need until you found the coupon for it) then all you’ve done is found a new brand of cookies that you just “have to buy” every week even when the coupons no longer exist. Okay, those scenarios are a bit extreme… but you get my point.

I’m all about finding ways to save money. I just don’t think coupons are necessarily the answer. By looking for in-store sales, comparing prices between brands, and buying generic whenever possible, I feel like I am able to save just as much money (if not more) without the hassle.

Am I wrong? Is it really worth all the trouble?
Do you use coupons? What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?
Wouldn’t if be cheaper to buy less processed, off brand goods?

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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