Effective Couponing – What is Your Time Worth?

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effective couponingOne of the biggest traps that I see new couponers fall into is the “time trap”. It starts out slow, maybe a couple of free tubes of toothpaste. Before they know it, they are doing the elephant walk with 5 carts of groceries in an attempt to recreate Extreme Couponing. Why? The Coupon Wizards endorses extremely effective couponing, NOT extreme couponing. If you are looking to waste your time in an attempt to hoard massive quantities of Yakisoba noodles, this is not the site for you. If you want to find out the most efficient way to put money back into your budget, get out of debt and eventually accumulate wealth, I’m your guy.

The time trap is really a pretty easy trap to avoid. Basically, you need to figure out what your time is worth by the hour. Once you have done this, you can determine if the savings you are generating through couponing is worth it. If you are working 2-3 hours per week to clip, plan, prepare and execute, you may not really be saving as much as you think. If you work outside the home for a living, you could simply apply your hourly rate or a pro-rata portion of your salary to your time to determine your hourly worth. If you are a stay-at-home parent, your rate would be a little tougher to determine. It may actually be higher.

For illustration purposes, let’s say that we figure that you are worth $25.00 per hour. That means if you are spending 3 hours a week on coupons, it is costing you $75.00 in your time to coupon each week. Are you saving $75.00 per week or $300 per month in your couponing endeavors? That’s how much you would have to save in order to break even. You would have to save $75.00 per week just to make up for the money that your time is worth. I realize that this may be a bit of a technical exercise, but when you are focusing on your household budget as a whole, it is necessary.

Here are a few tips to help you streamline your processes:

  • Limit your trips to the store to 1-2 times per week.
  • Use a spreadsheet to plan your trip and organize your coupons.
  • Know your stockpile quantities
  • Remove as many distractions as possible during your trip
  • Stay away from impulse buys

I am interested to see how your numbers fare.  It is most definitely possible to make your couponing worthwhile.  But, you may be surprised to find out that a 40-50% savings on your shopping trips is actually more effective for your budget than an 85% savings that requires much more time to manage.


  1. I agree with this, to a point. As someone who doesn’t work outside the home, my savings are my earnings. If I can spend less money but more time, it’s still a win. What doesn’t work, however, is spending more money on things we won’t need or use because “it’s a bargain!”

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