Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disappointing Coupon Experience

My mother was a big user of coupons. And when I was a cashier at the grocery store (in high school), a good 75% of people would use coupons.
However, since I've left college, I don't think I've seen one person using coupons. I suppose on some level, I've lived in cities where it would perhaps be "uncool" to use coupons (San Francisco, Berkeley, and now Honolulu), but I've never lived in the more upscale areas of these towns. You'd think that people would want to save some money. In fact, I actually recently called a few grocery stores just to make sure that they still accept coupons. I didn't want to be embarassed at the checkout.
It was in Japan that I started to get more frugal, but they don't use coupons in least, not the Sunday newspaper type of coupons. So I was pretty excited to come to America and be able to use coupons.
I've been faithfully cutting them out of the newspaper, and then forgetting to take them with me. But today I finally made it to the store with a big stack of coupons in hand.
I eagerly walked around looking for the great deals I was hoping to find. I've heard all these stories about people using coupons combined with store sales to get things practically for free.
Unfortunately, almost everything that I had a coupon for was still more expensive with the coupon than the alternative brand. Even some things that were on sale were still more expensive with the coupon than a different brand. For example, I had a coupon for $1.00 off 2 bottles of Wish Bone salad dressing. This was on sale at my store--2 for $8.00, making it $7.00 for the 2. But a different brand was also on sale 2 for $5.00. I went for the 2 for $5.00 brand.
I'm feeling very disillusioned. I'm wondering if cutting out coupons is a complete waste of my time. The discount I got from the store card was significantly higher.
Our total bill was $104.50. I saved $31.32 with my store membership card. I saved $1.60 with coupons. I used three coupons and only one of them was for something that I needed.
How do you save money with coupons? I wonder if part of the problem is that I live in Hawaii where food is already very expensive?


Wisely Sunshine said...

I've been a coupon user for awhile, and I noticed that stores will really go onsale only a few times a year. That is when coupons work so well. I save about 50% from both coupons and store card for a few times last year, but most of the grocery trips I only save about 10-30%. I don't need that much time to cut coupons and I enjoy doing it, so for me it's not such a bad deal.