Is Couponing Dying?

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This is a guest post of another fellow frugal gal – Marci 🙂

Please leave a comment if you think couponing is dying or not

If you have been couponing for three years or more you may remember all the free things we use to grab when combining a sale, with a manufacture coupon (that actually doubled) and often times adding a third coupon from your local store. Well, those days are seemingly dying off and we aren’t able to enjoy those freebies we once took for granted. Of course, we make sure to regularly check where there are great deals to be had online (see this site for one example of where we might check) but, in store, things really do seem to be changing.

When I first started couponing I remember getting shampoo, razors, toilet paper, beverages and foods for free. Now I struggle to pay $5 for  a pack of 12 roll of name brand toilet paper! With the airing of the Extreme Couponing series on TLC we saw the good, the bad and ugly. With that show came repercussions to all of us “normal” couponers!

See, before the show aired the stores were pretty lienant. We weren’t scrutinized for every swipe of the UPC code on the coupon, the expiration dates weren’t stared upon, nor did we get any eye brows raised to make sure we were purchasing the exact size of the product. Not that I mind, because I use coupons legally {Yes, there is a ILLEGAL way to coupon!}, but, now I will admit – I haven’t couponed for the past two years….I know right?!?

It all began when I was pregnant and super sick with my second daughter. You see, when I was better I tried to place a special order at my Kroger during a Mega Sale. I ordered 30 bags of cat litter…(I don’t have a cat people!) and the Store Manager told one of the Assistant Managers (that happens to be a family friend), that I was taking the product and selling it. She reassured the store manager that I in fact do a lot of donating. This made me so angry that I haven’t placed a special order and haven’t donated since that time. Which brings me to my next point…

Before the Extreme Couponing show aired I was spending $5 of my weekly grocery budget and getting items to donate. Due to the fact that I was using coupons I was often donating between $20-$50 worth of merchandise every week to different food pantries. With the restrictions, no double couponing in Cincinnati Kroger stores and my local Target store VERY hard to work with when using coupons, I’ve realized it’s not worth the effort to put forth. Now mind you, this all happened after a Extreme Couponing show aired with two “stars of the show” being 15 minutes down the road from me!

Three years ago, I was saving my family $116 a week, on average, with my couponing skillz. Now mind you I had a stockpile (a real one, not one of those floor to ceiling ones!). This week after not using a SINGLE COUPON in two years, I headed to my local Kroger store for a sale where I ended up saving 30% off. While that is great and all I only saved $13.75 using manufacture coupons. So because of the Cincinnati Kroger stores coupon policy change of no longer doubling coupons, my $13.75 in manufacture coupon savings just didn’t seem to be worth the half a day I took hunting, printing and clipping coupons.

What do you say, is couponing dying? Have you found yourself using coupons less than you previously had?


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  • joanie

    it is dying the deals are not as good if you do not live in the area that have good coupon inserts. Stores feel they are being robbed by stacking raising the prices to make up for that. Most people do not know that manufactures send them a check for every coupon they redeem!! It is alot harder to coupon it is a full time job with over time but no extra bonuses but i will still coupon it has not stopped me!

  • Jenn S.

    I go through spurts of couponing. I only use coupons for items I actually use and our stores have a 4 coupon per item limit. So sometimes it’s not really worth all the time and aggravation. It all depends in the sale. I never did understand those shows. The stores have to drop the policies when the tape the shows. There is no way they can have 100 coupons for 1 of the same item. Oh well life goes on and to each his own. But I think couponing is dying 🙁

  • Annmarie

    I agree that is harder to use coupons, but I have also noticed that most of the coupons now expire in a month or two. That makes it harder to save coupons for a future sale.

  • Deana C

    Using coupons is a lot different today than a few or even many years ago. I grew up with a mom who couponed, rebated and kept a “stockpile” (not to be confused with an indoor bunker of useless foods and products). I was a couponer before couponing was cool :)…I remember when noone doubled coupons and you had to circle the expiration dates with a marker or blue pen or they wouldn’t be accepted. Then I woke up one day and couponing was popular, everyone did it, no one stared at you and people would actually congratulate you on your savings…now between the advent of “electronic coupons”, reversal of the “doubling policy”, curse of the crazy stockpilers show and pitiable values of the coupons in inserts it’s definitely getting harder to save and find freebies. However, I will keep couponing as long as there is a quarter to save and a store that accepts my little paper discounts aka coupons. After all, quarters add up to dollars and dollars ad up to freedom….Happy couponing all!

  • Erica

    I never got into the extreme couponing thing. I clip them here and there out of our weekly newspaper for products I’d buy anyways, but a lot of coupons aren’t very useful to me. I buy nearly all our produce at our farmers market, generally try to buy generics when feasible, and since I cook mainly from scratch I have little use for convenience or prepared foods. Coupons really only help me somewhat on paper products and personal hygiene stuff.

  • Margaret M Wallace

    I have been couponing for about 3 years now and I have noticed a marked difference in store policies, coupon values and coupons available. None have stopped me from couponing ! I still get free stuff, not as much as before but it still happens. I still can get Amazing deals. I will never stop couponing 🙂

  • Kimberly Free

    I have been couponing over 30 years and have noticed that there is an ebb and flow to my enthusiasm. Mostly, I forage all fall and winter and fill in my stockpile in the spring, then slack off over the summer when I am so busy. (my stockpile is not a hoarders paradise with 100 mustards and 200 tubes of chapstick – I buy useful items only) I dont think couponing is dying – But I do think that the illegal couponing and fraud exemplified on the “Extreme” show (only watched it once and was horrified at the unethical tactics) makes it much harder for the honest, rule abiding couponers. I’ve learned which stores are coupon friendly and how to scope out cashiers. The coupons are much more plentiful now than when I started in 1979. Back when I clipped magazines, Sunday papers and sometimes found hang tags or peelies. There were no other resources or double coupons in the beginning. I usually saved about $200 a month for our family of five. Today I saved $165 total at three stores. I think it is all about what our goals are — I haven’t paid full price for groceries for many years – If I dont have a coupon I buy generic or the BOGO sales. I’ll coupon until the day I die…

  • Liz

    Oh my goodness! I am so glad that I’m not the only one feeling that couponing is dying! I used to get so many good deals with the double coupons… now it is so hard to get a good deal with coupons.:(

  • Joyce Carpenter

    I have only been couponing for about a year and 1/2. There has been a change even sine I started. I have to coupon though to survive. I’m still able to do some donating.I feel that even a little is helping some one.To me that is what matters. Because of the couponing I do I’ve been able to help my children and Grandchildren and I would not have been able to with out it. Last year was the first time I was able to buy presents for Birthdays and Christmas. If you’ve never been down that low you can’t know how much it meant.
    I have to say I blame the scamers.The ones who tell people to just copy their coops after printing them. The ones who tell them to use a coop on the wrong product. They are the ones who have the stores,looking closer.Because they are stealing from them. The stores need to train their workers better too. I live in small town USA and we price match a lot.One Manager will say one thing another something else. They do think because one bad apple comes in we must all be that way. It saddens me.I will not stop couponing, I will not stop giving when I can. Good luck to you all <3

  • Dorothy Carter

    There are no stores in my area that double and you MUST pay sales tax regardless of the amount of the coupon. I get very frustrated with the time it takes to cut and match and then the rules change in the stores to exclude using some coupons. I just don’t do many coupons anymore and I really need the savings.

  • Bethany

    I have only been couponing for a year and a half, but I have found more lately that when I go to get items, they are often out, and I get frustrated because I just put hours into planning my trips, and when I get there, they are completely out of the items I need.

  • Jay McGiffen

    I’ve only been couponing for around six months so I’m not sure sure on how it was before the show, BUT I get lots of freebies, I coupon legally too as the author put it & like this week I have gotten free shampoo, pens, detergent, toilet paper, make up, and make up removers. Today we have something 10 years ago couponers did not, a HUGE amount of help from bloggers. I don’t spend half a day with my coupons and planning after cutting & organizing in my binder all I have to do is go to coupon blogs and print a list and I’m ready to go! I have a bookcase stockpile completely full and spent maybe around $60 on everything. Cashiers are a pain at times but the stores I go to I make friends with most of them and look forward to them helping me! I even took a whole stack of inserts to my favorite DG cashier today and wrote her a complete list of freebies that were in it! I’m a younger generation couponer (21 years old) but I have gotten many many people couponing, and it helps my family out tremendously. The main problem is couponers who fraud on purpose and beginners not taking the time into learning it and jumping in and become bad couponers. I can see why cashiers are mean, I get mean to bad couponers too sometimes!

  • Lauralee Hensley

    I still save, but only a tiny bit. Yes, I don’t see very many food coupons out there that are good. They rarely line up with store sales around me. No stores where I live double coupons, nor have they in a very, very, long time. I wish there were more food coupons, not just junk food type coupons either, but good ones on salsa’s, on frozen or canned vegetables, on dairy, juice, meat items. I mean they do come out time to time, but not as often. Personal care items are okay, but often only see coupons on more of the high end, more expensive items that we can’t afford to use even with a coupon. I still put in the effort, but not seeing much to help our family in the couponing department anymore.

  • Laura D

    I have couponed for as long as I could remember.these days in my area it is hard to use coupons. One store called food depot won’t accept any online coupons we print out. Many stores don’t double anymore and I’m finding your allowed 3 of the same one. I’m not one of those that buys/steals stacks of newspapers, but if there is triplicates of a coupon book in paper,yea ill use them. I actually found some old coupons that still said no expiration and had no bar code,remember those. Well good ole Wal Mart wouldn’t let me use it cause it had no bar code. Another think I noticed is the expiration dates on coupons are only good for like 60 days. Thanks extreme coupon show, you made couponing miserable.

  • Jenn

    When the economy was tanking in 2008 – 2010, manufacturers kept customers buying by offering higher-value coupons and deeply discounted sales. Smart shoppers figured out that they could combine the two to get things for free or super-cheap. That’s great in the moment, but it’s not sustainable for companies to continually offer their products for pennies on the dollar.

    Now the economy is improving — although not for everyone! — and a lot of shoppers are reverting to their pre-recession purchasing habits. That means manufacturers don’t have to lure as many shoppers in with the big, big discounts, and they can begin making more of a profit on their products.

    In my area of the country, I’ve noticed that coupons are lower-value in many categories than four years ago. Grocery store sales, though, are still pretty decent here — as are many of the drugstore sales. I can still consistently save 30% to 50% off my shopping trips stacking coupons to sales, and I feel that’s reasonable.

  • Amy

    I have definately changed how my couponing works, And I agree the “extreme shows” definately put an almost negative feel when I’m at the registers, although it has not stopped me from couponing. When someone asks me – oh are you one of those extreme couponer’s – I tell them “No – I purchase things I plan on using on using, not stock piling.” And then I continue to tell them that what they (extreme couponer’s) do – they coudn’t do in a real store. I do agree – the free items are not around as much as they used to be – but as long as I’m paying less than generics, I feel I’m getting a deal on a brand name. (Not that I won’t use generics – because I will buy that too!) But I too will be a couponer until the day I die!

  • Mandy B.

    I haven’t used coupons in about 2 years. The only store that doubles in my area is a Kroger, and this store is way more expensive than all the others. I shop at store’s like Woodman’s and Aldi to save the most money. It’s sad, I miss my couponing.

  • Stephannie R.

    I don’t think it is dying.
    I know the Syracuse (NY) area stopped doubling coupons over $1 around 1996. Which for me ment very little at the time.
    I get annoyed when P&G will give 20 cents off charmin or bounty. Really? They start at $12.99. Even if Target has them on sale and by miracle there is a Target Coupon, I am lucky if I save $2. I mainly look for the buy 2 get a $5 GC now.
    I only buy what I need, when I need it. I am happy with whatever savings I get.
    With the exception of Charmin and Bounty, 90% of the rest of my purchases are store branded items.

  • Lisa

    It’s dying for me for sure. Chicago has no stores that double, save Mariano’s (owned by Roundy’s) which will double 2 whole coupons up to $1 on Wednesdays. Whoopee. We have also given up processed food, which is what 90% of the coupons are for, and I clean mostly with ammonia, use cloth napkins, and make my own laundry soap – so going through the coupon section leaves me very little to choose from. The things I do find are for 25 cents off TWO items. Gee, thanks. So until they start giving coupons for fresh produce, dry beans, eggs and other healthier items, my coupon-cutting scissors are in retirement.

  • carolann

    Back in the days of great couponing. . . before the tv show. . . my BEST shop was at Publix, and my total out of pocket cost for this particular shop was $1.43. The amount saved was over $1500.00!!! I still have the receipt to prove it! Another great one was for over $1100.00, and my total cost was $0.73!!!! NOW, my shops are much smaller and I usually spend around $30-40.00, with a savings of around
    $200-250.00. Not so fabulous anymore, but still worth the work!

  • Gaylin

    I guess I haven’t noticed a difference because of the show because I wasn’t coupon-ing before the show aired. I do know that one of the shows aired a girl from one town over. But one of the stores I watch and coupon at the most still doubles everyday on coupons up to .50 cents and about every three months they will triple coupons up .75 that is where I save the most money. Although we should have had a triple coupon week a couple weeks ago and instead of the triples they did doubles for up to .75. they will only let you do 15 coupons at one time. But when I am saving so much I would go several times that week. Nothing like getting 75 dollars worth of groceries for 20 bucks. It isn’t always something that I will use right away but I figure if I can have a little stock pile of the stuff that we use a lot of soy sauce, ketchup then it saves me down the road from having to buy those thing at full price or even with a coupon that saves just a little bit.

  • loretta

    I usually found generic to be cheaper even when a coupon was doubled on brand name items. now, with the stores not wanting to double them, it would seem that it is not even worth the time.

  • Dee

    I feel horrible if I have no coupons at the checkout…. I will hand them out to people if they are buying something and I have the coupon, they are very grateful…. like they won the lottery. It does take a lot of time, but what the heck. If I can save money here and there, and stock up on stuff why not. Dollar tree really scrutinizes them, they must of been ripped off. They check the product and then look over the coupon, then look at the product again. (They now have to put initials on the coupon if they take the coupon.) I thought wow, it is for .30 cents lighten up. Nothing was rejected. At a dollar tree in FL they said they had been ripped off royally. It is almost a year that they have been taking coupons.(8/24) One girl complained that she had to look up the price, I thought lady it is a DOLLAR STORE!! I still have not been in a store that can automatically scan the coupons. I do notice that some of the dollar tree’s have stopped carrying the brand name deodorant/shampoo/soap/dish soap.
    I will carry on.

  • Raquel

    I really only use coupons when I am going to target, then i go online and print off their store coupons and matching manufacturer coupons from other coupon sites. My nearest target is 30 miles away, so I rarely get to go there, and plan a lot when I do. I have recently saved almost $40 stacking their coupons and manufacturer coupons….which is the most I have ever saved, mainly because I am an occasional couponer. And there is just my husband and me in my house- plus 6 cats and 1 little dog.

    Really it is a pain to clip coupons any more- and they inserts here in rural Nebraska are lame. Plus I always feel like I am wasting paper and money and time when I only get a paper for the coupons, and probably only use 1/4th or less of what I cut out.

    I do keep my eyes out for peelies- (coupons on products in the stores) because they are usually higher value and don’t expire for a long time. My husband calls me a “coupon thief”, lol.

    I do have a coupon binder that I carry around when I go shopping just in case. I try to stay away from print-at-home coupons when I go to Walmart, because 1)they either don’t scan -which means they flat out REFUSE the coupon, or 2) the cashier scrutinize every detail and give me attitude like I am trying to steal every penny from their register or like i just created the coupons at home on my computer.

    Overall I have seen a major decline in the coupon values. I get highly annoyed at the save $0.50 off THREE or even TWO items. I also have noticed how lame the freebies are now. 5+ years ago I was getting so many awesome freebies, it puts current ones to shame!!!

    But alas, I shall continue on my feeble attempts at couponing- because every penny counts!

  • Chris

    I think it is. With all of the crazy shelf clearers and the illegal couponing, it’s making it impossible for those of us that stick to a budget to get deals. So if it’s on sale and I have no coupon it’s not being bought. I’ll buy at a discount grocery store or just buy store brand or skip buying extras. It is hurting us and in the end the manufacturer’s will end up feeling it eventually too. I’m just hoping they will still give us deals once in a while so we can survive.

  • Kristi D.

    Well, it’s definitely changed. I started three years ago myself. I used to go to the drugstores early each Sunday morning and just come back with a huge haul. Now the deals are so skimpy, there are weeks where I just don’t go. I have learned to adjust. I stopped the binder and clipping every coupon; I just have a large file where I keep three months of dated inserts. I’ve turned to Amazon for great t.p. and paper towel deals (and many other things) delivered right to my door. I watch the drugstores and go when there is good deals. And I clip and save where I can at the grocery store. It’s not what it used to be, but if I can save a bit every month without too much effort, it’s worth it to me.

  • chris

    I don’t coupon as much as I did a couple of years ago. My strategy has changed, I will go through the inserts and cut out stuff I know I will buy/need. Write the date on the inserts and store them. Before I go to the store I’ll check couple of sites to see if there are any good deals, southernsavers or iheartpublix/kroger are my go to’s. I found when I was couponing, the free stuff I got was processed food which I’m trying not to eat anyways.

    I think the manufacturers are partly to blame for couponing going downhill. If the manufacturers were worried about people abusing the coupons, why haven’t they put strict limits on how many people can buy. Limit 4 items per person…ect. I know a few of them do that, but not all.

    I really think the extreme couponer “crisis” is way overblown. There aren’t that many people who do what people do on the show. It just gives the grocery stores the excuse to stop doubling so they can make more money. Like I said if the manufacturers were worried about it they could easily stop it by putting strict limits on their coupons. Trust me, if they were losing money, they would stop it.