It’s just not worth clipping coupons anymore

Personal finance, Tips for saving money

Clipping coupons used to be something anyone who claimed they were frugal did on a regular basis. I admit I haven’t done this in a while, but I happened to look through our Sunday newspaper last week and was amazed to see how poorly coupons had kept up with inflation (and that’s an understatement).

When I was a kid (in the 80s), I remember clipping coupons pretty regularly. $0.75-1 off a favorite box of cereal, helping my mom find ones that were useful to us. I always kept my eye out for those when it was time to buy new clothes. It was actually a fun thing to do: the hunt as well as trying to see how much money we could save.

Fast forward to 2010, and I was shocked at how little you save on coupons these days. I took pictures of a few from our Sunday paper, and these were quite typical. Instead of $1 off a box of cereal, the deal now is:

Really? $1.50 off two boxes of cereal + a gallon of milk. Around here (Bay Area, admittedly), brand-named cereal is about $5 a box plus $4 for a gallon of milk.

Or how about coupons for toilet paper or paper towels?

Wow — and I just discovered that people sell these coupons on eBay. Huh. Is there actually a market for this stuff?

I’m starting to see why online stores like or their new sister store actually might work and be popular — sell consumer staples with a slight discount, with free shipping after meeting a threshold amount, and deliver quickly. Better than clipping coupons and going to the store, it seems.


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5 Feedbacks on "It’s just not worth clipping coupons anymore"


Yeah, I’ve kind of strayed from clipping coupons and instead just try to stay on top of the sales at stores (which don’t require coupons). This is what I’ve found saves the most money.

Dan MacLerran

You mention that “Yeah, I’ve kind of strayed from clipping coupons and instead just try to stay on top of the sales at stores (which don’t require coupons). This is what I’ve found saves the most money.”

So, let me ask you — Dole Canned fruit is on special at my store for buy 10 for $10 — or $1 per Can ….. I have a coupon for $1 off of Dole Canned fruit … meaning I can get 1 can for free (I do have to pay 6% sales tax of course) — Now, what if I have 10 of those coupons — You got it, I can now get 10 Cans for FREE (pay only Sales Tax) — I’m certainly not convinced that couponing doesn’t save our family a ton of money. Thanks for you article.


I rarely use coupons at the grocery store because the store brand is usually pretty good (HEB in Texas) and still cheaper than the fancy brand with a coupon. I feel like a lot of coupons are for things we wouldn’t buy normally, so saving $1 to spend an extra $5 doesn’t make sense. We generally don’t buy commercially packaged food which is the only food with coupons. Coupons at non-grocery stores, however, can save very big, and a lot of stores take competitors coupons. Here’s an example of my sister’s coupon use for home remodel (she bought a fixer-upper house): she’s using a Lowe’s coupon (10% off up to $5000) at Home Dept (which is having a sale on things she needs) and buying it with a Discover card bonus ($100 for first $1000 in purchases) and special cash back for home store purchases (5% right now). She will be able to max out the 10% off coupon by buying $5000 worth of home building material (flooring, insulation, etc) so she will save $500 there, plus $250 from credit card + the sale prices at Home Depot, so it will be close to 20% savings on the first $5000. That’s fun coupon use!


*Well, I didn’t do all that math right, but you get the idea.

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