Friday, February 28, 2014

Why Couponing Is Worth Your Time

One of the most common arguments people use when I bring up couponing is "It's not worth my time".  I'm here to prove that it is.

Couponing is a misnomer.  It should be called sales shopping with coupons because most of the savings comes from the store sales, coupons are just a bonus.  Only 17% (~$200) of the money I've saved over the last 2 years was from coupons.  The remaining 83% (~$1000) is from store sales and coupon doubling.  Now, these savings aren't just going to fall out of the sky.  You do have to prepare for your shopping trips, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be more efficient with your time.

Now for some math!  I've spent about $1,400 on groceries (which includes food and hygiene and household products) in the last 2 years or so and saved almost $1,200 over approximately 70 shopping trips.  So each transaction should have cost me $37, but I only paid $20.  Also, assuming you actually save this money and don't use it on a new toy, compound interest or growth (depending on whether you invest it or put it in a savings account) will turn it into even more money.

The additional $600 that I get to keep each year is also tax-free.  The IRS doesn't suddenly come a-calling because my disposable income increased; they already got their piece.  If you're in the 25% tax-bracket, that's like increasing your pre-taxed income by $800.  (I'm assuming that you are safely in the 25% so all $800 would be taxed at the same rate.)

But wait, there's more!  The $108.33 I would have spent with no store sales or coupons is well under the monthly average for a single person.  According to the USDA, the average monthly grocery cost for someone between the ages 19 and 50 is more like $250.  So in comparison with the average American adult, I'm saving $2300 each year, and I'm only a moderate couponer!

Now since I don't punch the clock when I start and stop couponing, and I'm almost always multi-tasking while I do it, I don't know exactly how much temporal effort it takes.  But I think 3.5 hours per shopping trip is a conservative estimate.  That equates to 123 hours per year and $18.70/hour post-tax or $24.93/hour pre-tax (at 25%).  So on top of the income I'm getting from my day job, I'm also getting paid substantially more than minimal wage to essentially watch TV while I surf the Internet.  A cushy job that I can never be fired from...sounds like winner to me.

Plus, I love it so it doesn't really feel like work.

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