Do you think clipping coupons is a good use of time?
It seems like there are different answers to this question by personal finance enthusiasts. Some view coupon clipping almost like a sport. There are even some in this category that partake in “Extreme” couponing strategies to save money.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that think cutting coupons is a waste of time, and not worth the investment of one’s energy and efforts for the resulting savings. Some people in this category look at the opportunity cost of time, thinking they could be more productive doing something else.
Personally, I’m not at either extreme but somewhere in between. Admittedly, that “somewhere” is definitely more closely aligned with the latter group. For me, it’s about how much I’m being compensated for my time. This means that I’m not going to be spending an hour clipping coupons that will save me $3.00. There are better uses of my time, and that’s a terrible hourly rate. I did better than that over 20 years ago as a kid. Now, if it takes me 5 minutes to save $3.00, that’s a whole different story and I’ll be more favorable toward it in that case. If minimal effort results in some savings, that’s a win-win.
This is where internet coupons come into the discussion. We all know about daily coupon deals that come our way, and offer great savings with just a few clicks. These can potentially fit the mold I’m talking about, of low effort resulting in savings. However, they often cause you to buy things you don’t really need just because they’re priced a steep discount.
Clearly, it’s not only important to be efficient with your time, but also buy things you actually need – thus being efficient with your money.
I have taken these factors into account when trying to use coupons, and try to quickly and efficiently search for coupons I can instantly print, or use via coupon codes. One example from my own life is the use of coupons for a local restaurant – actually part of a national chain. I go there once every few months, and before I do, I go online to find coupons. Within a few minutes, I’ll find something that will save us at least $4.00.
It’s possible to find discounts for all kinds of things, not just restaurants. For example, if you wanted to save money and time by setting up an online meeting you could find a GoToMeeting coupon code and do it for a discounted price. Money can be saved in a very short time – which is music to the ears of someone who values both money and time.
This is what it comes down to for me: what is the ROI, where the “I” represents invested time. If an investment of time results in an appropriate level of savings, it’s worth it. If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth it. This is where internet coupons offer a potential advantage over traditional clipped coupons. Instead of wading through different flyers and newspaper sections, one can quickly find a relevant coupon online if it exists. If you know where to go, it makes things go even easier.
My Questions for You:
- Do you spend time trying to find/use coupons, or do you have issues with their value proposition in terms of your invested time?
- If you do use coupons, do you mostly clip/use traditional coupons, or do you primarily use internet coupons? Has this changed in recent years?