Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buying coupons?

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?

5 comments:

Angela said...

I wonder about the ethical question regarding buying coupons. I was under the impression that coupons could not be sold or transferred. Do you know anything about the legality of buying coupons?

Thanks!

Angela

Bethany said...

Angela,

Thanks for bringing that up--I almost mentioned something in my original post and apparently should have. Technically, coupons may not be sold. It gets into a bit of a gray area because usually places that "sell coupons" state that you're not paying for the coupons, but for their time to clip and mail them. I'm okay with this (provided that it's actually a reasonable amount for the expected time). However, if you're uncomfortable with the idea, I wouldn't recommend that you do it.

Sally said...

I think "buying" coupons (paying for someone to cut and collect them for you) is a great option. However, I choose not to do it for a one specific reason.

I've been couponing for 5 months now and I've accumulated a large stockpile of non-food products. As my stockpile was growing I needed some kind of guideline about how many "deals" I'd chase and how much I would bring home and store. It may seem silly but I decided that I would only get as many deals as I could with the coupons available to me in my local newspaper and online.

There are terrific deals out there, especially at the drug stores. At first I thought I should "chase" ALL of them. It didn't take too long before I needed some limits to protect my sanity and storage space. :)

Thanks for your site, Bethany. I love it and check it daily!

Sally

Suzie said...

I have a question: Let's say Kraft Mayonnaise is on sale at your local grocery store -- how do you find particular coupons to use, whether buying or not? I have been unsuccessful in "Googling" it or going to the manufacturer's website. Sort of like using your Olay coupons: you know it's going on sale, but you need even "one" coupon to bring the price way down.

Bethany said...

Sally:

I think limiting yourself in that way is very wise. It's easy to get so caught up in "finding a good deal" that we run wild. We all need limits! :-)

Suzie:

I love the coupon database at Hot Coupon World. It isn't exhaustive, but can be very helpful when attempting to match coupons with sales or needed items.