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Family Money

Are coupons worth the hassle? Most would agree since they save money at checkout. But is that actually the case? Let’s walk down the reality check aisle.

Weigh worth versus effort. Think about all the time and energy you use scouring sales circulars and store websites, meticulously clipping, printing and sorting coupons. Is the time spent versus money saved cost effective? I suppose that all depends on perspective. Recently, I spent 30 minutes before going shopping at CVS collecting coupons and checking the circulars for sale items and in the end I saved 62 percent. A great return for my time when I only bought stuff I use.

Watch for coupon coercion. Consider whether or not you will use it. Just because you clipped the coupon doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If you buy stuff just because you have a coupon and these items just sit in your pantry or are unhealthy foods that won’t be eaten, then you are wasting time and money in the long run.

Stack the deck. Be store loyal but brand unloyal. Download store apps, sign up for store loyalty programs, and get emails when items you buy frequently go on sale. Additionally, most stores have their own coupons and will allow you to stack manufacturer coupons on top of theirs. I feel that if I don’t check circulars or web sites before I go shopping that I am potentially leaving money on the shelf.

Be savvy and save. I am not an extreme couponer, but I will kick myself if I pay full price for something that I know I could’ve found cheaper someplace else or with the right coupons. So do a little homework before you shop, like printing coupons from coupons.com (free printable coupons) and from Ibotta after you shop (earn cash back on in store and mobile purchases with receipt and/or purchase verification).

Just for the fun of it, I set aside some money to coupon with each month. It’s a game to me to see how much I can get for my money. Keep in mind, I only buy items I use or can get for free!

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility.

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