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How much do you SPEND to SAVE?

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Don’t you think that this is an interesting question? Based on the emails that I have received recently and in the past, I know that many of you ponder this question as well… how much do we all spend (both in dollar amounts and time) in order to save? Check out this email from reader, Liz…

How much per year or per week do couponers typically spend on supplies (newspapers, coupon clipping services, ink, paper, etc.)? I religiously tracked my expenses over 2010 and found that I spent $470 on newspapers, ink, paper, a binder, baseball card sleeves, etc. On a weekly basis, I was purchasing between 4-7 papers at a price of $1-$1.25 each and I print coupons from 4 different home based computers. Now granted, I saved nearly $10,000 in groceries and health/beauty; and the rebates that I submitted over 2010 nearly matched my spend on “couponing supplies” etc.. But I’d like to reduce the expenses wherever I can and just want to get an idea as to how much others “spend” to “save.”

So, that is where all of you come into play! How much do you spend each week, month, and/or year getting organized and prepared to save? What are your expenses when it comes to saving (i.e. printer ink, paper, gas to drive to the store etc.)? How do you cut down on these expenses? Any tips are greatly appreciated! 🙂

Join The Discussion

Comments 396

  1. julie

    i don’t spend too much printing anymore unless it’s something i’m really going to save on. mostly it’s time spent clipping the newspaper/organizing coupons/deciding what i’m going to buy and getting to the store……actually having the energy after all that.
    sunday was my shopping day this week. fla is much harder to save coupon-wise. no doubling here. but Publix accepts all competitors coupons so that helps. yesterday at cvs i spent 20 and saved over 40. publix was 200 and saved 120. but i shopped for meals for an entire week plus lunches and plan on leftovers for a while so it should last 1 1/2 weeks i hope.
    some days the couponing wears me out but i always think it’s worth it. i do give myself the luxury of not using them when i’m too tired and just need a few things. and I trust that even on my bad couponing weeks God will always provide.

  2. Jenny

    Great question! I get the Sunday paper delivered. Sometimes I buy no extra papers and sometimes I buy up to 4, like last week’s. This week I bought 1 extra.

    I have no way of telling how much ink I use, because I homeschool and print so many other things. I usually try to have the cartridge refilled when there’s a special at Walgreens. Sometimes they say it didn’t pass the refill test and I have to buy a new one. I used the 20% off at Office Max last week to buy their brand HP 23 ink and saved over $12 if it were the real HP ink.

    I bought the baseball card slot holders a few years ago and they’ve lasted forever. I get binders for super cheap at BTS time.

  3. anonymous

    I get my local paper delivered. I guess I could buy another one or more (at CVS) if the coupons were great that week. But I’ve never actually done that.

    My problem is that sometimes when I go to buy something on sale and/or have a coupon, I might buy something that I really don’t need. So that sucks up the savings, and sometimes then some. So sometimes am I really saving. Now sure I often save a good bit, but sometimes I might “eat” the savings by buying something that I didn’t need (impulse buy).

    Like today I bought some cosmetics at a real good price — but do I really need it? Couldn’t I just use what I had.

    And, no offense always wondered how many buy stuff because the price is right (no offense, but like when people buy Glade, and candles stuff). This is just an exaample, you might love the stuff. So sure you might get item X at a super savings, but is it a need or a want. Now sure if it was a great price and it was something like toothpaste, then woo, hoo.

    • Erica

      I will agree with you that sometimes there are things that my husband and I buy that we don’t “need” but we’ve somewhat changed our attitude towards when to buy things and what our “needs” are.

      There are often times where we can buy things that we don’t need or want at the time and make a profit on it after rebates or other things like that. If it is that situation, of course we are going to buy it! Also, this last year we were able to get a blood glucose monitor for free at Rite Aid. Neither my husband or I are diabetic but we do have a few family members who are. It wasn’t something that was needed or wanted at the time but when Christmas rolled around and we were putting together a present for my husband’s diabetic brother, we decided to throw it in and he loved it.

      I know that not everyone thinks the same way that we do about buying things that aren’t needs but I’ve found in our two years of couponing that we are always able to go through things we’ve bought. It’s nice to be able to have a good stock of just about everything so that when our friends or neighbors need help because they are out of work or just moved into a new place we can give them some basics to help them get going and help rid some of the stress from their lives.

      Just a few thoughts…

    • Courtney

      I love the Glade products. For me, I love to light a candle and turn off the lights. It’s very relaxing. (Probably akin to what tea or coffee is for others). Also, air fresheners are kept near the baby’s dirty diaper bin. Definitely a necessity.
      And there may be some things that I don’t think I need (like when I bought Dulcolax). Imagine my surprise when 3 weeks late my husband used it because he needed it!
      You have to be careful of what you are willing to spend money on (outrageous amounts of Halloween candy anyone?) But I think that decision is different from person to person and family to family. After all, to me a non coffee person, a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee and I don’t get why people will pay so much for it (like the keurig).

      • mamarobyn

        Those kind of items – candles and fu fu stuff – I use some and save the rest for giving away. Something always comes up when I need a gift and don’t have any money…that’s where my stock-pile comes in. 🙂

  4. Lindsay

    Go broke saving money. That’s what I was taught by my father.

    • Laurie

      and my husband!

  5. Kacey Nielsen

    We switched to the continuous ink systems for our printers. They save a FORTUNE on printing! They are a tad bit of a hassle but the hassle to price saving ratio is ridiculously in favor of buying.

    • Dianne

      Can you explain “continuous ink systems” and where you get them? You have me very curious about this.

  6. Joanne

    I set my printer to “fast” print(uses less ink) and use only “greyscale” which only uses my black ink which is cheaper. My husband and I are currently both unemployed so every dime counts. I have to remind myself that it’s ok not to get “every” deal out there, especially if it’s something I really don’t need. But when I can save huge on things we use, I really don’t have a choice. I try to make 2 trips a week to the stores. Walgreens and Riteaid are on the same corner, so that’s one trip. CVS is near my daughter’s piano lesson so I go there every Mon. while she’s at her lesson. Then usually 1 trip to Walmart or Meijers a week. It also helps to be organized before you get to the store. I got my zipper binder 75% off at Riteaid, my baseball cards(coupon holders) were under $5.00 and I get my 3 papers a week at Dollar Tree for $1.00 each.

    • Amanda

      Dollar Tree carries newspapers? Hmm.. are the Sunday papers a $1? Or am I missing something? Oops! 😉

      • Stephanie

        My local Dollar Tree sells the Sunday paper for $1. My local Wal-Mart sells them for 99cents.

        • casey

          my dollar tree carries the sunday paper for 1.00 as well and often still has them on mondays

          • Amber

            I get four LA Times delivered and pay $.75 each paper. Call your local paper and get a better deal. Not only will it save you more, but you won’t have to go out to the store to get them 🙂

            • Sarah

              I get 5 papers delivered on sunday and 1 the rest of the week for $21 a month.

        • Jana

          my local Walgreens sells the sunday paper for 99cents as well, plus they give the local college(anyone who goes to school there or works there a 15% discount) so I pay 90cents! 🙂

        • sg

          The Wal-mart on Two Notch Road, in Cola., SC charges $2 all week long and does not discount ever

          • mamarobyn

            I’d say they need to get with the times – with their own store! All the Wal-Marts in the Puget Sound Region of Washington sell them for $1. 🙂

    • hannahgrl

      If there is a Drug Mart near you, try going there Sunday morning. Their special is they sell newspapers 1/2 price on Sundays. Also, the baseball card thing didn’t work out for me, too time consuming. So I have spent more money in custom making my own coupon book, however; others have had me make them one so now I’ve made enough money to cover the cost of my supplies. Yes I purchase a few candles, or air fresheners, but I also have enough laundry dertergent, paper products, boxed foods, canned foods, etc. to get me by for at least 4 months. Considering that I’m feeding 6 people that’s pretty cool. I now only get those unneeded/but wanted items only if they end up costing me nothing. For example, at CVS you can get Air Wick products this week for free if you have the coupons. Best of luck saving a buck!

      • sg

        Could you share your airwick deal? Thanks, sg

        • hannahgrl

          It’s the same deal she listed, buy 3 Airwick freshmatic refills at $5.00.
          Use 2 B1G1 free coupons (from this week’s paper)
          Pay $10.00, and get $10.00 ECB
          The only actual cost is the tax.

  7. Crystal

    Not sure my post helps much but. Ive been couponing about a year an a half now. I started out printing tons…incase I needed them on top of having the paper delieverd. Well after some mistakes with the paperboy and now living right down the street from the Dollar Store…I know buy usually 1-2 papers a week based on the coupons. An now…I still print coupons from multiple sites but not every coupon. I dont use or think I have to use all coupons anymore, especially on stuff that I dont need or use…its too time consuming for me at this stage in my life. I do however get deals on Animal products and give them to my parents and donate to the Humane Society. But overall I spend about $8 a month on papers…and probally need 2-3 reams of paper per year…and ink carteridges is hard to say since of other printing…but probally buy 2-3 color and 2 black per year…and I print from 2 computers. Hope this helps a bit.

    • Amanda K.

      I just wanted to say thank you for the great idea of donating pet products to the Humane Society! I just never thought of that before. I only have a dog, but often see great deals on items for cats or brands of dog food we don’t use and I was never sure what I would do with it. Now I know, thank you, and good for you for finding another way to give back through couponing.

  8. Sun

    Hi Collin,

    I used to clip the Sunday coupons, and file them religiously. I came to a realization that my biggest savings came when I stockpiled the items we used at rock bottom prices. Now, I don’t even buy the Sunday paper, and use a coupon clipping service for my needed items. I am not tempted to buy items I don’t want, but get great prices for the things I really need. Sure, I don’t save 50 cents on every item in my cart, but stock piling items I use, more than makes up for it. I spend between $5-$10/month on coupon clipping service. Recently, I ordered (20) $1 off Quaker oatmeal coupons for $2.50 shipped. I will get 20 boxes for free this week after double coupons. Our family loves oatmeal, we will eat every morsel.

    I also switched from a ink jet to a laser printer. I spend about $20 on a cartridge every year. I was spending about $60 on ink jet ink. The reduction in ink cost more than paid for the laser printer.

    • Anonymous

      What coupon clipping service?

  9. chris

    I collected sports cards when I was younger (which are more worthless now than ever) so the binder and sleeves were free. I do two things to save money. Instead of buying Sunday papers for $1.25- $2, we have a paper that carries the coupons in the Saturday paper because they don’t create a Sunday one. I buy a 4-8 of these and get them in time to use them before that weeks sales are over.
    The other thing I do is watch the coupons print if I can. Once I see the coupon printed I cancel the print job to keep it from printing those ink waisting ads at the end. Saves so much ink.
    Hope that helps

  10. Kimberly Harris

    This year our ink cost is going to be huge. Yesterday I ordered two double packs of ink from Office depot 86.49 but I had a 30.00 free gift card and two coupon codes which brought the cost down to 30.00 and free shipping. Recently I went to the folder system instead of clipping all the coupons the problem I’m having now is that I have saved time but I don’t take the large binders into the stores like I did with my small coupon organizer. Also if I run upon a sale I have no idea which coupon insert the coupon is in. I feel I’m not saving near as much money with the folder system. I put my plans together before going shopping which most of the time is wal-green and hip2save gives me the coupon insert info as to how to locate the right coupon. By any chance is there a app or program that can tell you which coupon insert to find a coupon in? I pay for two news papers each week and recently ordered a mag.” All You”which I have yet to receive but I see deals posted all the time from this mag. The postage for rebates can also add the cost of couponing up. The last three years have been great, we have been to the doctor less because of on hand medications. We have more body care products than ever before. me and the girls have make-up that we otherwise could not afford. This past Christmas we was able to give each girl 12 gifts each, that would not have happened without the great deals from Hip2save. Sincerely, Kim Harris

    • Angela

      Hi Kimberly,
      I use BargainBlessings.com to find which inserts a certain coupon may be in. She has a link to a coupon database (see header — it’s one of the options there). She’s in Colorado, so I’m not positive how the regional coupons are reported. But it’s where I go to get that info now. I switched to the folder system too. I know I miss out on some deals that appear in the clearance section or something, but the hours and hours I save are worth something! Besides, if it’s that killer of a deal, I can run home to get my coupons (or depending on the store, they may let you bring your receipt back in to get credit for them, so you don’t lose out on the clearance stock). Anyway, I hope that helps!

    • Sarah Marturano

      You can search the hip2save coupon database for the item and it will tell you which insert. There are also sites like coupontom.com that do the same thing 🙂 I use the folder system too which saves time clipping but I do feel like I don’t use coupons on things that weren’t on my list or clearance stuff. My problem is that I don’t get good service on my iPhone in the stores so I can’t look the coupons up online while I’m there. It drives me nuts cuz it would work perfect if I could get a darn signal!

    • rachel

      i write on the top of the insert the date and file it away. Pinching your peenies has a list by state of coupons with the date next to them.

    • hannahgrl

      I clip and group my coupons. As I’m cutting, I put food in one pile, and everything else in the other. Then I sort them into smaller groups. Frozen food all goes into one spot, dairy products, hair care, lotions/bodywash, shaving/deodorant, then when I’m at the store, I’m able to quickly see if there is a coupon for whatever item I’m considering purchasing.

      • Tilla Ham

        that’s a great idea for organization, but not for time, it takes me forever to even make a food vs others pile…will you come do mine too :)?

    • Lolo

      Couponmom.com has the best list I think. You select what State you are in (or region) and then it will list the coupons for that areas major newspaper. There are some down sides in that if they list from the major newspaper, and you get the smaller paper, then a coupon may be listed and you look and look for it but the fact of the matter is it is not included in your paper. This happens a lot to me in So. CA as she lists the coupons that come in the LA Times and I usually get the North County times for san diego and they do not carry all the coupons or sometimes the value is less so a deal I see posted may not be so for me.

  11. Lynne

    I LOVE Collin’s site but I also use it in combination with Couponmom.com as you can print a shopping list of the items you want to buy. For example, I look at Hip2Save’s Rite Aid deals and in another window, I have Couponmom’s Rite-Aid’s page open and check the deals I want then print the shopping list, making notes on the paper. Pull all the coupons and fold them inside and I’m set to go to Rite Aid. Couponmom isn’t creative about stacking etc but I love the shopping list.

    Hinting to Collin to add a check box and I wouldn’t need to go elsewhere

    • Ciseal

      I like the shopping list too! It saves you time, because you don’t have to make your own list.

      • Courtney

        I hate the shopping lists. I read in google reader, and the shopping lists make everything come out a mess. 🙁

    • steph

      I just discovered yesterday…there is a print feature for each post on H2S and it allows you to delete sections/items you don’t want.

    • Lolo

      great idea, I would love to print a shopping list for easier shopping directly from Collins site. I usually hand print out the deals as I go to slick deals and read through the forums there too.

    • Christylee

      You can do the same thing on Hip2Save you click on the clipboard it adds it to your hip list on the bottom of the screen and then you can go in and pick and choose the items you want! Then you are not printing things you do not want. I loved it better when there was a Lemon and when you added it to your hip list it turned into a glass of Lemonade!

  12. Traci

    Even though I was already a subscriber, my local paper had an amazing deal come up on Living Social. I called the paper and requested the deal that was offered. Now, instead of paying .75 per paper (I get 2) plus monthly delivery charge, I paid for one year (52 Sundays) in advance and paid .19 per issue $9.88 per copy per year.

  13. Susan @ The Royal Cook

    I have a subscription for 6 Sunday papers a week that I pay about $20 a month for. I bought a new binder this last year (my old one was desperately needing to be put down :)) that cost me $10 or $15. I still have packs of baseball card holders that I bought a couple years ago that I haven’t yet opened – mine really have to be on their last leg before they get buried. I think I paid $1.50 for a pack of 10, but don’t go through a pack a year. I print very few coupons, but get my paper free through rebates so I only pay for my ink. I don’t run all over the place just to get the deals. I go to the store when I have to have something and get the deals then. If I have errands to run in an area, I may stop by a store or 2 that are in the same area if they have deals I am interested in. I might spend 2 hours a week clipping, sorting, filing my coupons and getting ready to shop. I spend no more than $500 a month for my family of 7 – including diapers, cleaning supplies, paper products, hygiene products and food (usually closer to $300 a month). I have a fantastic stock pile of items that I have gotten free or super inexpensive.

    Back on topic, I probably spend around $300 a year. $240 for my newspaper subscription, $10 for my binder (once every 3 to 5 years), $1.50 for baseball card holders, $10 for ink (maybe) and $40 for gas (since I don’t drive all over just for the deals – I might make 1 trip a month somewhere just for a deal). That comes out to $301.50 – I think I am high on everything except my subscription. I save $1000’s a year!!

  14. KatieBee

    We tracked ours this year too. Because we print a lot of school items (and work), we figured coupons were 25% of the print=$43; paper=$11; newspaper subscription (M/W)=$44/yr. Every major store (supermarket, dollar, drugstore) are all within 1 mile of our home or kids’ school; I shop Mon morning after drop-off for everything, if needed. Some weeks (like this one), we need nothing. Others, I am literally going from store to store to get it done in one, gas and time saving trip. We saved $9,234 since July from coupons/rebates; spent $1,544 on food and supplies. Still have some work to do on that, but most of our expense was building our stockpile up. Now that we are there, it’s much easier and I think our monthly output will go down $50-80 per month.

  15. Sherry

    I recycle paper that is going to go in the shredder from work or other things by just printing on the back of it. I also try to only print the coupons I will use, but inevitably, some are thrown out before used. I get papers from friends and family. I try not to purchase what I don’t need unless its for donating AND I make a profit on it to purchase other items I need.

  16. Katie F

    Is it bad that I print all my coupons at work? 😉

    • Dianne

      Not if management gives you permission to do so…if not, well? You are taking a resource that isn’t yours. But that is for you to decide.

      • Gloria

        The way I see it, after all the time that I’ve worked and not gotten paid for (coming in a few minutes early, working while I eat my lunch at my desk, etc.), on top of causing me to not have the TIME to coupon consistantly, making me loose out on savings, that costs ME valuable resources! I personally have only printed 3 coupons at work for free stuff where I was stopping by on my way home from work, but trust me, they get more “fringe benifits” out of me than I do from them!!

  17. marcia

    Well, I’m still using the $1 ink refill from Walgreen’s earth day promo (saw on here) and I just bought two ink cartridge refills for $12.99 ($6.50 each) on that Groupon deal Collin posted recently. I still have 8 reams of paper that Staples paid me to buy from a deal Collin posted, too, so printing coupons doesn’t stress me out cause I know I didn’t pay too much for the supplies. The bigger expense is my time, I think. Thanks, Collin!!

    One suggestion I have for all you super savers is HOMEMADE!! You can make your own laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, household cleaning products, even handsoap. It’s easy, VERY inexpensive, eco-friendly, and naturally healthier for your body. Try it! The web is full of recipes. We even make our own playdough (easy!) and don’t color it so I don’t have to worry about pink and blue spots on my carpet. 🙂

    • Becky

      We only buy our bath soap from friends who make it at home (when they’ll accept money for it – they need to pay for materials somehow).

      I remember playing with the home-made play-dough as a child – we’ll probably do the same thing for our daughter (the great thing is that most of the recipes are non-toxic so I won’t need to worry if she sticks it in her mouth or something).

      I do something interesting with the paper aspect of couponing – I sometimes recycle the backs of sheets of paper used for non-specific junk mailing to print coupons on. I can’t even begin to tell you how much all of those unwanted advertisements have cut down on our printer paper bill.

  18. Kelly K

    I get my sunday paper delivered, which helps save on atleast one newspaper, I purchase my ink from inkquik.com, they are cheap and very fast shipping, havent really ran across anyway to get it cheaper, atleast not for my printer.
    I have friends and family save coupons for me which helps cut down on the amount of papers I need to buy, and usually buy paper when it goes on sale. I probably don’t spend near what some do, I have a coupon binder, but found it to be to difficult to maintain, so I opted for cheap stand up folders, and I just write the dates on the coupon covers so they are easy to find.

  19. Amanda

    I feel like a looser. I Still am spending $500 a month or more if I count in my gas. I live do not live close to any store. it takes 15 to 20 mins on the free way driving 75 mph. I don’t understand how I am still spending that much. I only buy things that are free or money makers to cover the cost of the not free stuff.
    I have a family of 6 one full time and two night wears of diapers. We do have a large dog and a cat and 2 fish and a late chicken that froze when it got unexpectidly to cold two nights ago. My little girls has not found out yet. Why can I not be down to $300 or a dream of $200. I have looked it over. I do know where some of it goes and I cant change that. Like milk 3 of my kids have to have raw dairy they have allurgys to procesed and the only milk I can get is $7.60 a gal. and my 19 month cant have dairy at all. I have to buy dairy free everything for him. And the dog food is around $30 I try to use ovrage at walmart to get it down to help cover that.That cat food is always close to free. The fish food is the same but the filters get ya. Gas is also a lot. but I have to drive my kids to and from sschool way to cold to walk 3 times a day. and 3 times a month to speach for my son and thats a 30 mile round trip .I try to keep it down to one or two trips to the store a week.. I spend 18 a month on 5 papers and I don’t print of very much coupons but a lot of shopping list.

    I just dont see how this is happening.

    • Anonymous

      look at it this way, a penny saved is pay earned! when you have people in ur household with specail diet needs, ur cost of living will be higher. your spending less then 100 per person plus you have animals to feed. in our house there is just 2 of us.. i prob spent close to $200 (and im not buying daipers). i have 32 miles round trip to the closest town. so i cant go get every deal. but when its a big sale ill go and stockup. i look at it as ive still saved in the long run.like yest i got 12 boxes cereal, 2-32oz yogurt 3 packs rice, 6 boxes kelloges bars,3 32oz creamers (froze it) for @ $32 after rebates. probaly i could have done better if i lived close and went home and printed coupons. But i was happy! I saved!

    • Tracie

      I am not sure what town you live in, but try posting on Craigslist that you are looking to trade coupons with people. Ask your neighbors/friends/family to give you their coupon inserts if they are not using them. That will save you some money on buying papers. Trading will cost you a stamp rather than a newspaper charge. Also, I found great deals on Amazon on diapers – can’t beat the store price with coupons. Or you may want to try up & up diapers from Target. That will provide you with some savings. It is rough, but I agree with the other reader – you have a large family and they have special dietary needs so you will spend more than a lot of people. Try combining a school drop off with shopping – hit the stores on the way home to save an extra trip/gas.

    • Tilla Ham

      i’m just wondering why your newspaper cost 18 dollars for 5, that is outrageous. Our local newspaper is 2.50 per Sunday issue but the dollar tree and Walmart carry it for 1.00 every week. try that, or call your local newspaper office and see if there is a deal…there is no getting around saving for special needs children, I have a daughter with Aspergers, and two with severe Asthma and Allergies (hmm just realized we like the A diseases in this house) anyway 🙂 their needs are expensive, and that can’t be helped..500 a month isn’t bad for all that you described

      • Sarah H

        I suspect she has a similar deal to mine: I get a special multiple sunday subscription, it’s $18 a month for a daily paper and 5 copies of the sunday paper, delivered. That’s $216 a year, it would cost $260 a year to buy 5 sundays each week at Walmart, minus maybe $30 for the approx 6 couponless holidays, so I get about a $15 savings and they are delivered. I have been considering dropping the subscription and starting to use ebay or a clipping service to get just what I need above what is available online. I am slightly leery of it since technically buying coupons could be considered illegal (it says void if ‘transferred’), but then again so would trading coupons or taking my neighbor’s extras…plus, how are these people selling them making money?

    • Sarah

      Do you use coupons on your cat food and dog food? Just last week I purchased 5 $8 off any bag of Iams cat food for $20. That’s half price so it is saving me $20 off of cat food. I purchased the coupons from ebay. Just a thought.

    • Nancy

      Amanda – I think you are doing great! With 4 kids, a couple in diapers, buying expensive special-needs food/milk, and including gas, I think $500 is pretty amazing.

  20. Artsygal

    My costs are fairly minimal – the first thing I did when I got my printer was to set it to print on greyscale and draft quality as the default. I’ve found that I need a new ink cartridge once every 4-6 months depending on what else I’m printing. I sit by my printer as I’m printing and since I print 2 of each bricks coupon, I flip the page and print the 2nd one on the back. I didn’t know about cancelling the print job part way through the print – I’ll have ot give this a try next time.

    Supplies wise, I have about 8 manila envelopes – each one holding a week’s inserts with the date written on it in pencil. Since most of my couponing is done at CVS and where I have shopping lists right here on H2S to work from, it is easier to not clip all my coupons in advance. I do toss those pages that have no coupons on them though. And once the coupons in a certain week’s inserts start to expire, or the inserts start getting too ratty to flip through because I’ve cut so many Qs out of them, I clip the remaining coupons and paper clip them together by week/insert and file them in a small accordion file folder. The reason I came up with this system is because these were the supplies I had on hand so startup costs were nothing.

    I only buy a single paper each week from Starbucks, and take my laptop with me to spend a couple of hours relaxing there, often watching a movie and knitting while drowning myself in iced green teas (with unlimited free refills of course!) Sure, the starbucks is a splurge, but it’s one of my few and at 1.50 a week that’s not a big deal. The rest of the week I drink water or home brewed iced tea (soda? what’s that? I only drink it with the occasional fast food meal). The rest of my coupons are printed off the web. I have two laptops to print from so I can usually get all I need. If something is an extra good deal, I’ll ask my roommate and she’ll print off more from her personal laptop and her work one.

    Most weeks at CVS and Rite Aid I end up only paying tax, which is my idea scenerio. Often I will pick up a MM item I wouldn’t otherwise buy to help offset the cost of a sale item that I actually need. And when food goes on sale at thedrugstores, even if it’s not free, I give myself a budget each week of however much I’m making on the MM items and buy it that way. I do have a rule though – I have to always walk out of the store with atleast enough items that I actually need and will use soon to justify the expense of the OOP I paid. So if my tax and OOP is $3, I must have atleast that much worth of groceries/non-stockpile items in my transaction. This is rarely a problem.

    Transport costs for me are minimal – 2 years ago as part of my simplifying, and cutting costs, I got rid of my car. I walk or ride my bike almost everywhere. Rite Aid is the only place that’s too far to ride both ways, so take the bus there and back with a stop at the library on the way. Often one of my friends will give me a ride, and in return I keep her stocked with toiletries and OTC meds from my stockpile as well as other odds and ends. Just this week she got 2 bottles of 100 count exedrin from me. That alone was enough to convince her to keep doing this for me regularly! LOL!

  21. Rebecca

    I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and our local paper, The Plain Dealer, has Sunday papers for sale for 25 cents on Mondays at CVS!!!!! Be sure to check your local paper!

  22. Tracie

    Rather than buying several papers, I have a lady I trade with. I met her on Craigslist. We both collect coupon inserts from our neighbors/family and then we email each other each week on what we need. We then mail the coupons to each other since we live too far away to meet up w/o spending gas $. Rather than spending $1.25 on a paper we spend the cost of a stamp, and our time of course. I also take advantage of price matching when possible so I don’t have to drive to each store to get what I want in the ad. I usually don’t make a special trip to get to a store – I stop on the way home from dropping off my daughter at school and hit the stores along the way. I pick one day a week to do all my shopping this way.

  23. bethany

    am i the only one who lives in a town where there are barely any coupons in the sunday paper? some weeks there aren’t any at all. any suggestions on what to do?

  24. Stacy

    I recycle a great deal of junk mail and papers that come home from school by using the backside to print out my coupons. It cuts down on my paper expense and makes me feel good about recycling paper. Also, set your printer to “quick print” and use black ink only.

    • hannahgrl

      If there are really good deals that you want the coupons for, order them from ebay. As soon as you pay they mail you your coupons. My niece swears by ebay as her clipping service. But if you just google coupon clipping service, you’ll find that many people who live in areas that have better/more coupon inserts will clip and mail them to you.

  25. Jamie

    I buy my printer ink on ebay – I buy several months worth for around $25 since I work from home the cost to actually print my coupons is very small, I only print the ones I will use. Paper I pick up when it’s free after rewards at the office supply stores, I have a good stockpile of paper. I think your coupon organizer is a one time cost, if I need to replace a binder I wait until Staples puts them free after rewards. Newspapers I usually buy at the Dollar Store (4 per week so I spend about $200/year on newspapers). I buy a lot of things we don’t need in order to get the things we do need – as for the extras we donate to the local food panry, families in need and family as well as our local Veterans Hospital. We also have 2 yard sales every year and sell off all of our extra HBA items, we usually make enough to cover a large home repair or take a nice vacation (around $2,000 between the two sales). All these things plus the savings from the coupons FAR outweigh any cost.
    It’s a LOT of work to clip, organize, search out deals, make trips to the store and hold the sales but my husband and I decided a few years ago to become a one income family so I can stay home with our kids (even more important now that we are getting ready to be foster parents) so I look at this as my part time job, would I rather go back to working 8 hours a day in an office or clip some coupons and hold a yard sale?

  26. Dmkapotsy

    I spend about $8 a month on newspapers. My coupon binder was free because I used e-bay bucks (that I earned while making purchases for phones for gifts for my husband and myself) and I bought 30 sheets of baseball size (9 spots) and internet coupon sized pages (6 spots). My husband has collected so many different sized binders between when he was in college and then training classes from work over the years that not only do we have them with pages in them on our shelves but some have been cleaned out and I have a very large tote full in my attic! My paper I get is almost free because I only get it when there is a super good sale with rebates or whatever. I use a lazer BW printer and I get A LOT of prints out of it. I also don’t print as many online ones as I used to. It took me forever to learn but I think I now have a better idea as to which ones will still be there if there is a sale to go along with it and which ones won’t. I live in a small town so I don’t have a Target or Rite Aid so I don’t get those beals unless they are REALLY good and I make a special trip to the next town over. Other than that I am about 15 minutes from CVS/Walgreens/Walmart/Publix/Winn-Dixie and I get my deals there. I only shop about once a week for deals.

  27. Amy

    Couponing can use up lots of printer paper…a definate expense. If, however, you direct some of your money-saving efforts towards finding good ink and paper deals, costs go way down. Last year I was able to score two, 10 ream boxes of printer paper from Staples for $1.00 a box. This amount of paper will last for years and made my paper expenses for couponing basically nothing. Of course I remember to recycle the leftover scraps.

  28. The Mom

    What do you consider a good stockpile for food and household items? Thanks for the input.

  29. Jaclyn

    I stopped couponing. I do deals on amazon buying in bulk. The only thing I buy at the grocery store is organic fresh produce so no need for coupons there. Yes I know every once in while there is a coupon for fresh produce but not often enough for me to justify buying a bunch of newspapers. I use only natural products and I get those by using “daily deal sites”. For example buying a $25.00 gift certificate for drugstore.com 15.00 and then ordering those products.

    I’m sure many people don’t have this problem but for me I found I was buying a bunch of useless things because they were “free”. I was able to donate and give to family and friends but the clutter was bothering my husband. I realized I needed to get my priorities straight. For me I realized that even though the receipt said I saved “$120.00” I didn’t really save that. It did cost me. I was trading my time for things I didn’t need.

    • Sarah H

      Good for you for figuring out how to meet your needs in a frugal way and protect your time. For me, couponing is a necessity…there’s no other way to meet the savings on health and beauty items, household items and gifts. But really, it’s all about getting the most out of your dollar and being prepared for emergencies with adequate supplies.

      • hannahgrl

        You got that right! If I hadn’t stocked up on Cold meds I would already be out a fortune! I do spend a lot of time and energy looking for good deals, but I have enough laundry detergent, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, etc. to last at least 6 months. So yes, it’s worth it to me. Especially since my husband’s hours got cut, I won’t have to buy those items until his hours go back up. And as far as buying stuff I don’t need, I have a lot of 20 somethings in my family that need every bit of help they can get, so I enjoy buying 10 deodorants for $0.89 and having $1.00 coupons. (Kroger last week).

  30. Jennifer

    I called the LA Times to get the best deal that they could give me: $9.98 a year for the Sunday Paper. I got my All You mag for about $13.
    I only buy things that I would use. So I only make an effort on printing coupons for items that I use.

  31. Katy

    Printing coupons is where I spend the most money. Ink is so expensive. Now I used Inksoutlet.com… the ink is alot cheaper and works just as well.
    I also switched to using a clipping service so I don’t have to spend money on newspapers. I was trying to buy only the coupons I needed but then I felt like I missing out of things when I find things on clearance. Now I just buy the inserts from them. Typically I buy an insert for $.60 instead of paying a couple dollars for a newspaper.

  32. Lolo

    I spend very little oop. I buy my papers form a newstand late at night (11pm or later) and I take all the remaining inserts as well as having numerous people saving them for me as well as my Walgreens take the unsold papers inserts and clip some give me the rest or I can just take which ones I need if they have yet to clip them. When I print coupons I always reuse paper. All that junk mail you get with printing on one side works great for printing coupons on the blank side. Who cares if their is wirting on the back of your coupon? No need to buy paper for something like that. (also we reuse homeowners assoc. board packages paper to print on the back of. It is usually quite large and all the paper gets tossed every month so we actually have more paper than we can use!) I do not waste a lot of time clipping all the coupons. I leave my inserts whole and when I find a deal I want, I look it up on the coupon data base and then gather all the like coupons toegether and clip the whole stack at once. Saves a a lot of time. My only problem is when I am at a store and do not have the coupon handy when I see a deal. I am thinking of keeping a small binder handy for that while keeping the rest at home. I do not use 99% of the free deals I get so I in turn sell them and take the money I get from them to pay for groceries that I need and usually do not have coupons, thus saving me lots of money. In addition I have acquired some gift cards for the stores I do the freebie shopping at using some crafty ways of using overage and/or some of my rewards to use them to help pay for the tax on items as that is my biggest cost. I try never to spend more than $.50 oop before tax (per transaction)to buy the freebie stuff. (usually it is $.10 or less but sometimes it runs a little higher due to fillers) The most money spent comes in my time spent. I travel around the city for my work and I usually will stop by and do some shopping while I am passing by to save my gas, but actually compiling the deals to spend as little oop and figuring which rewards I have to match up with which products to make the cost as low as I can as well as either coming out even or making more back in rewards as the amount I put out is what takes a lot of time for me. But it has become kind of fun for me to do it and all the checkers and managers now know me because of the time I spend and how low my totals are at the end that it has opened a lot of doors to me and I do not have hassles over coupons not working etc…. anymore so that saves me A LOT of time. They just make it happen. 🙂 HTH some of you. Happy dealing!

  33. Janell

    The best purchase we ever made was buying a laser printer. We got it on black friday for super cheap and the ink lasts FOREVER. The sample cartridge lasted almost 3/4year. You can get refills online for cheap and they print thousands!

  34. Amanda

    I have found that my issue is TIME. I have a very hard time balancing time between couponing and my other responsibilities as a mother and wife. I find at times I am consumed with looking for deals to the point that my home is neglected and there is nothing on the table for supper. Needless to say this has led to many disagreements between my husband and myself. I love my family and feel that I am obligated to do my best for my family as far as saving money but I don’t want to cause problems with my family. I also work a full time job. I would appreciate any suggestions and advice as to how to find balance. Thank you in advance.

    Amanda

    • Kristine

      I have learned to pick my battles, I look once a day for about 20 minutes to see what I like best. I don’t have a family but I do have a boyfriend who gets annoyed when I spend too much time couponing. I limit myself to 20-30 minutes a day of scanning 3 of my favorite blogs including this one. I know what I like to use for example: I prefer skippy peanut butter over anything else so if I see a coupon I need I print it. I try not to waste my time finding crazy scenarios that may not work in my area. Keep it simple and follow Collin’s tips. Sometimes her words of wisdom are enough to save you some money without even couponing. Its just being one step ahead of the game.

    • sarah

      I have the same issue. It’s addicting. I’ve been following sites like this for one year (came across randomly) and I’ve felt guilty the entire year that I should be playing with my kids while they still want to play with me. The Moneysavingmom site really addresses balance and gives advice on getting important things done – for people like me who tend to get carried away with “saving.”

    • hannahgrl

      Maybe if your phone has an alarm, you could set it for 30 min. or an hour, and when it goes off you have to move on with your day. If you get your other chores done, your reward is you can get another 30 min. or hour before bed. Thats what I had to do. I would look over my deals, pull coupons, etc., look up and the day was gone and nothing but store lists was done for the day. You will get faster at scanning online deals, organize your coupons so you can find what your looking for quickly, and let it be till you can get to the store. good luck

  35. Carrie

    I don’t want to give away my source, but I spoke to the manager at a local gas station and they were more than willing to have me come Monday morning and pick up the Sunday papers they don’t sell. I pick the coupons and recycle the rest of the paper (something businesses don’t have to do in our area, they trash them). I take the manager and cashier stuff from my stockpile once in a while and everyone is happy. Can’t hurt to chat up your local grocer, gas station attendant, etc… Might make a friend in the process.

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