Are Coupons Worth the Hassle?

When the going gets tough, the tough ... cuts coupons? Sure you can save a buck here and there with coupons but do the savings really matter?

You may laugh at the average saving per coupon (about a buck fifty) but that's before Brett Arends of The Wall Street Journal did some math:

Average saving per coupon: Just $1.44, according to the Inmar report.

But let's treat this low finance topic for a moment the way we treat high finance. Let's subject it to the same math.

How long does it actually take to clip and use a coupon? Certainly the more you use, the less overall time you will spend per coupon, because so many of the costs–getting flyers, sorting coupons and so on–are generalized. Let's assume you spend a minute per coupon.

Saving $1.44 for a minute's effort is the equivalent of saving $14.40 for 10 minutes'.

Hourly rate: $86.40. [...]

Furthermore, money saved comes with an additional benefit. Unlike the money you earn at work, it is tax free. No payroll taxes. No federal or state income tax.

If your marginal tax rate were, say, 20 percent, you would have to earn $108 before tax to take home $86.40. If your marginal tax rate were 30 percent, you'd have to earn $123.


Do you cut coupons? Are they worth the hassle?

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Coupons are for cheapskates that put price above product quality and customer service. Groupon is the the worst of them all. A $100 Groupon sells for $40. Groupon takes $15 and the business takes $35 thus losing money on the deal after overhead.

How would you coupon cutter's feel if instead of getting your $1000 paycheck, you got $700 and a 30% off coupon?

See you at Walmart stingies!
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I cut coupons every week. Here's the deal:

LA Times Sunday Only subscription: $0.50/week
Amount of time it takes to cut coupons; 15 minutes
Average amount saved per week: $20

Pretty simple, really.
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Coupons are SO worth the hassle. You don't even have to buy processed foods to take advantage of them. Drugstores have great sales on health and beauty items all the time, and when combined with coupons, you can get very cheap and/or free items all the time. I do it EVERY WEEK. The problem with most peoples' thinking is that you can only use the coupons from the current week's inserts. I use a service that does 80% of the legwork for me, by matching sales with coupons that have been issued but not yet expired. So what if I pay $5-10 a week on the Sunday paper. I saved $40 on products from coupons in the 2/7 paper this week alone. That doesn't include all of the past papers coupons, store discounts, store rebates, etc.. I got so much stuff that I paid less than $1 or gotten free its ridiculous.
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I hate it when the person in line in front of me brings a lot of coupons... the scanner person scans each one in, and then about 25% of them don't work, so they have to key in the value manually. It's even worse than the people who insist on paying in exact change, and laboriously count out each penny.

So, I feel too guilty to use coupons myself, because I imagine the people in line behind me to be looking at me like I look at coupon users.

Also, food is pretty cheap anyway. Groceries aren't a big part of my budget, so it's also not worth the effort it was when I was younger.
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