Why I Don’t Clip Coupons

by lydia on January 24, 2012

Years ago, I found myself in season of life where I indeed got into the coupon clipping craze. I was trying to prove something. That I could make our finances work. So, I set out to read all I could, bought several papers a week and read blogs that told me the best deals and ways to utilize my coupons. And darn it all, I was mighty good at it. But, it didn’t last! Why? Because I began to realize that even though I could ‘save’ a bundle and get a lot for my buck, I was buying things I normally wouldn’t buy. Not to mention, I was getting a lot of processed CRAP! This in turn was not helping to keep me healthy, quite the opposite in fact. Can we even put a price on good health these days?

The whole issue is that there really aren’t coupons for real food. There aren’t coupons for Farmer’s Markets, or CSA’s or for Trader Joes either. So, I wised up and gave up the whole gig, it was too time consuming anyway. It was a true relief. I became a slave to the system for a short while there with my coupon clipping craze. Once I stopped, I realized I could shop when I wanted, how I wanted and without all kinds of lists, and boundaries. It was like entering a major game competition every week just to make sure all my coupons lined up with the deals of the store and the dates of the expiration as well as the time the deals were running and all the different stores I could go to get even more deals. Ack! It was all too much. And what I found was I was stressed about it and not really happy with the food I ended up coming home with. Who cares if I can get 20 Soy Joy bars for $2! I don’t want to eat soy anything anymore! For the most part, cheap, processed, imitation foods are what you can buy with coupons, and that is the scandal of it all.

So, here I am to share the things I learned from my coupon clipping days and why I don’t do it anymore. Now don’t get me wrong, if I find a coupon in my box of parchment paper I am gonna clip it and save it. If I buy a box of Larabars from Target and there is a coupon on the box, I am gonna use it. If my local health food store has a coupon booklet, I will page through it to see if anything that I would already buy is in there and tear it out and use it!

3 Reasons Why I Don’t Clip Coupons

1. You can’t buy real food with coupons. Just look for sales instead.

2. You don’t have freedom to shop when you want, instead you have to go through the circular and match up your coupons etc. Takes a lot of time and can be very limiting.

3. Farmer’s Markets, Coops & CSA’s, Buying Clubs don’t usually take coupons. This is where I do most of my shopping. This is where I like to buy real food items.

Did you ever hear about that woman who lived on an $800 grocery budget yearly, because she knew how to work the coupon system so well? I followed her blog with a bizarre interest, almost a sick curiosity. It was amazing, but at the same time scary. The food she ate was not healthy for the most part. And, from what I recall she ended up not healthy from all the pictures on her blog and even the posts on her trips to the store for medicine and how she managed to get all of her medications for next to nothing! Will saving so much with coupons on processed foods cause you to spend more in the long run to save your health? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question……

I am not here to say that coupons are bad or that you shouldn’t use them. Nothing of the sort. But in case you are caught in a cycle of thinking that coupon clipping is the only way to make it work, I want to say it’s not true. I manage a very small budget by buying real foods, single ingredient items and making sure I use all that I buy well. Nothing goes to waste. I can stretch my budget quite well now. People have written to me to ask how I do it. How do I buy pastured/grass fed meats and organic foods. It’s just a matter of working with the budget you have. Perhaps I’ll leave all of that for another post. Suffice it to say, I don’t have to use coupons to make it work. And that, to me, is very freeing!

What about you? Do you or do you not clip coupons? Why or why not?

(photo credit)


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LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone, Skype or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!



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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry M January 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm

nope….I don’t for the same reasons as you……they have coupons for the food I eat!!


Sherry M January 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I meant they DON”T have coupons for the food I eat!


Ginger H January 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I agree. I have celiac and multiple food intolerances. I use very few coupons. today I went to the store and used coupons for cat food, tea bags and a couple of treats for my teenage daughter, but that was about it.


ShorterMama January 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I used to. I got pretty good at it too, but like you I found that once I switched to real food it didn’t work so well. I still occasionally use Stonyfield, Larabar, Organic Valley, some other Organic veggie coupons, and coups from Whole Foods, but it’s only if I come across them. I used to be a coupon monster. Ha!


Leslie @ Real Food Freaks January 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I’m with you… what would I do with those coupons? I score the occassional Target coupon for toilet paper and dark chocolate… that’s it!


Jenna January 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Nope, me neither! Glad I’m not alone. Although I have found a few for clementines and other produce at my grocery… Baby carrots, mushroom, salads, almond milk and free range eggs… So there are a few, but I certainly don’t waste my time with the others :) Great article!


Erica January 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm

nope. If I could have it my way I’d work it out so I never had to go to the grocery store again! I hate looking at all that Junk on “sale” So many of the products even at whole foods are not even “real food” and the animal products are still fed corn and soy…don’t waste your money there on animal products!


Wendy January 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I use coupons. I clip the ones I use and pitch the rest. I do, however, come across store coupons that offer a ton of $ off of organic produce. Teas, toiletries, staples like rice, beans, etc…. there are coupons for them. The healthier coupons are usually in the free publications that sit in the health isles or you can email the company for some. You just have to learn where the coupons are for what type of eating you do. As a wellness consultant, I am always telling my clients this. You can save money at your local grocery store by being aware and asking. Also, depending on your store, the coupon rewards programs can be a Huge incentive. On that alone, I once saved $90.

I will continue to clip and be aware of how I spend my money. However, I do absolutely agree that most coupons are for junk food. I just use common sense.


lydia January 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I have written to companies before that I want coupons for, and they usually send me back a bunch! I don’t shop at a regular grocery store so I wouldn’t use coupons for much, especially produce. But it’s good to know they are available!


Ursula January 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I used to clip coupons, too. But most of the time I forgot to use them. And when I tried to use them all, I’d get stressed out. So I stopped (unless I find that I can apply immediately, right by the food or supplement I am buying).

I have Celiac Disease, and I cook REAL food. I buy organic meat from the local butcher, and fresh produce for the most part. And yes, I take advantage if there are sales on the items I like.


Allison Bruner January 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I do use coupons at Costco for toilet paper but that’s it. I think you hit it right on the nose when you said you use a small budget to buy real food ingredients and then use all of it so that nothing goes to waste. People think it’s so expensive to eat real food.. but it isn’t. People who don’t have a lot of money grow food, practice canning, use bones for broth and cook from scratch out of necessity. I think people that say it’s too expensive are just too lazy, to skeptical or whatever, to make the lifestyle change. They don’t understand the impact they have when they take that dollar to the grocery store. That dollar is a vote. I would rather “vote” for my local farmer and put my money back into my local community. I want to say, hey, I support your way of sustainable farming instead of a faceless corporation who will use my money to perpetuate the cycle of factory farming, genetic modification and pesticide usage. I wish people realized the actual sphere of influence they have. When you eat healthy for yourself you eat healthy for the earth too, and everyone involved benefits.


Rosemary January 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I realized a number of years ago that pretty much any advertising (including coupons) is just trying to sell you on something that you weren’t otherwise going to buy… because if you were, they wouldn’t have to advertise it to you! (I realize there are some minor exceptions…)

As for coupons, I also find them hard to use while grocery shopping with the kids – it’s hard for me to maintain focus to pick up those specific items, keep track of which coupons we’re using that time and which ones not, and then remember at the end of the trip to hand them to the cashier…if I even remembered to bring them in the first place!

I do use coupons occasionally at my food co-op – they give out the coupon booklet for co-op stores around the US, and I just save ones for products and brands I buy anyway – herbal tea, some dairy products, cleaning supplies…


Allison January 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Any advice for affording better quality food on a strict budget? I am extremely low income and get a little over $500/month in food stamps for 4 people. I am finding it’s really difficult to make the changes in our diet and afford these kinds of food. I was using coupons religiously for a while but I was buying food I really didn’t want us to be eating.


Stephanie Sandstrom January 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I *do* clip coupons, but mostly for non food items. My laundry detergent, vitamins, deodorant etc. I started out buying a lot of stuff I didn’t need, so I only clip items I am definitely going to buy.

I shop mostly Aldi in our area, so food coupons are useless for me, and it takes a lot less time to simply spend my money at Aldi.

But I still cringe when I am forced to buy an item that I could use a coupon for. I try not to ever buy razors or vitamins without a coupon/sale combination since I can get them for so much cheaper and those are things I can stock up on (within reason- I am no extreme couponer)

I have however spent the last few months trying to work harder on saving more money with coupons, and now you have made me realize that what I do is perfectly fine- and it’s what works for me! Great article!


Ann January 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

This is SO hysterical that you posted this article, because I seriously think about this ALL THE TIME. At Whole Foods we have our monthly list of items you can get a coupon for. I would say about 1 time out of billion it is actually something I MIGHT consider buying!! I was literally just looking at the coupon booklet the other day thinking, “Why can’t they have coupons for things I actually buy, like produce or grass-fed meat?”

Now I know I am not the only one who is thinking these things :). Coupons are worthless, I tell ya! Unless you want to live off of processed crap that comes from a box or BPA lined can. Bah!


Debbie January 25, 2012 at 12:23 am

I totally agree. I never started because I could never find any for real foods, coops etc.


Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} January 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

I agree about coupon cutting not working for a real foodie, and I have given myself a free pass on coupons (although for paper products and things, perhaps I should try it.) But I do spend a TON of money on food. I’d love to see a post about how you do it on a budget.


jayne January 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

I’ve gone through several cycles of clipping coupons and trying to time them for when things were on sale…but, as you said, there weren’t very many coupons for things I really wanted to feed my family and myself. So I’m letting that go. Like you, if there’s a coupon for something I will use, I’ll clip it and use it. But, like you, I watch for sales on items that our family will eat/use, and I shop accordingly.


Suzanne January 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Great article. I used to clip coupons but now nothing I buy has a coupon. I’m healthier without them.


Aimee H January 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

I can’t stand extreme couponing…you may be saving yourself money, but you’ll pay it all back in medical bills. People are eating poison! Soda, chips, candy and horrible canned goods. This stuff is going to kill you people!

I click coupons all the time and I eat as organically as possible from local grocers. I never buy any junk food. Small markets won’t accept the coupons, I was told, because they’d have to pay for that service. Here’s a good site for reference on how to go about hunting the coupons down:

It took me awhile to go through each category one by one, but I made a list of what’s at my grocer and I created a separate email account just for coupon signups. I bought a coupon book and once I’m done making my grocery list, I look through the coupons and pull out all that apply. Most of them will be good for a month & sometimes more. Its saves me almost $1 per product. That’s pretty good when you eat organically. While I’m shopping, I write down other brands that my store carries that are new to me, and see if I can track down coupons for them as well. It’s not a ton of work…maybe about 30 min every 3 weeks.

Also check out this one:


Soli @ I Believe in Butter January 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I’m in the same boat–I no longer buy things which would GET coupons.

Did have an interesting experience with them today though. When I went to pay for my groceries at the local natural food shop, a woman had been in earlier and left several shop-specific coupons for other people to use. The food-specific ones did me no good as I had not bought any of them, but there was a $5 off coupon for the whole of the purchase. Used that one!


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