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Couponing: Time Waster or Money Saver?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average family of four needs $48,778 to cover the basic standard of living costs.  With this being the case, many families, including my own, are constantly looking for ways to pinch pennies to make ends meet.  One money-saver that has become more and more popular is couponing. Shows like TLC’s Extreme Couponing and couponing blogs have given me hope that coupons can be the answer to my overgrown budget.  As I sit for several hours a week sorting through my coupons and surfing the net, I often think, is this really worth it?  Does all the time I spend a week trying to find the very best deals on groceries, clothes, and home improvement really make a difference?

Coupons can be found in a number of different places with the most common place being the newspaper. Each Sunday morning I look forward to pulling the coupon inserts out of the paper, and seeing what high value coupons I’ll be able to work into my budget for the week.  Later in the week, as I plan my shopping trips, I’ll match coupons to sale items in circulars to get the most bang for my buck on my weekly shopping trips.  Along with newspaper circulars, I also receive coupons from various stores and restaurants in the mail.  I organize these coupons in a binder that I carry in my car so that I am prepared for great savings when I am out and about.

Another great source for coupons is the internet.  Whether they are printable or coupon codes, the internet can offer great savings on groceries, restaurants, apparel, home improvement, and more. I recently found coupons online from Home Depot, for 20% off appliances and 40% off kitchen and bath essentials.  These can really come in handy when one of your appliances unexpectedly clonks out.  Another great place to find great deals, especially when you have children, is Walgreens.  They have so many great coupons for baby products, first aid, and vitamins.  You really can’t beat the kinds of deals they are offering.

So the question is, do the savings I get from using coupons make the time and effort I spend gathering coupons worth it?  As I went back through my receipts for the past two months, I realized that I had saved $200 in coupons between my groceries, health and beauty, clothes, home improvement, and restaurants.  For those living on a larger budget, this may not seem like a lot, but for my tight budget, that $200 can make a big difference.  $200 can buy me two weeks’ worth of groceries, pay my utilities, or pay for my son’s baseball registration.  So, for now, I’m going to keep on clipping!

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