I recently mentioned that, contrary to my normal practice, I actually purchased coupons for the Olay bar soap deal at Walgreens. I'd like to share a few thoughts about buying coupons and how to figure out if it's a wise idea in your situation. My own decision to buy coupons was based on the fact that this particular deal was an awesome moneymaker and I was able to get the coupons through The Coupon Clippers (link in sidebar) at a very reasonable price.
1. How much will it actually save you?
When all is said and done, how much will you really be saving by buying the coupons? There is often a minimum order size, plus postage and handling, and all your costs must be added before calculating savings. "Free" isn't actually free if you're paying for coupons.
2. Is it in your budget?
However good a deal it may seem, it's only as good as the money you've budgeted for it. If you don't have the money, don't spend it.
3. Do you know that there will be a sale to combine with the coupons?
Unless an item is always priced low enough to make a great deal with coupons, be careful. The coupons you paid for may expire before a good sale rolls around--or you may feel obligated to use them, simply because you paid for them. Ouch.
4. Does your store double coupons?
Because coupons are usually sold by a percentage of their face value, having a store that doubles coupons can extend your savings.
5. As always, if you're going to buy, find the best deal.
I've visited a number of sites that sell coupons and my personal favorite is The Coupon Clippers (link in sidebar). After you add everything together (coupon prices, postage, handling), they seem to have the lowest prices. eBay is another option, though your success may vary from one sale to another.
There are a couple of situations where I would certainly consider buying coupons:
1. A once-in-a-blue-moon amazing moneymaking deal, such as the Olay bar soap.
2. Preparing a meal for a very large number of people (a Christmas banquet, for instance). If by purchasing coupons very cheaply I could get necessary items free or nearly free, I would consider it.
What about you? Do you buy coupons? What guidelines have you set up for yourself?