When I discovered the wonders of couponing late last year, I became obsessed with it.
I started religiously picking up newspapers and cutting each coupon out, sorting them into their appropriate section in my coupon pouch complete with dozens of dividers for every category of products.
A couple months later, however, I realized I was becoming a hoarder. I had three big boxes filled almost wholly with bottles of shampoo and conditioner, tubes of toothpaste, dental floss, and deodorant (what the majority of coupons seemed to be for). Although I snagged each item for a rock-bottom price—most of them having had cost me as little as 50 cents apiece, I wasn’t sure I could use what I had in even a couple years’ time.
There were other frustrations. One was that I was spending hours a week maintaining my coupons without even using the majority of them. It required monumental effort to not only cut out and sort them, but to periodically go through them and discard expired ones.
Further, when going through couponing sites’ product-coupon matchups, I often didn’t have the required Sunday newspaper inserts since my local newspaper didn’t carry all of them, or I didn’t have enough of them inserts—two instead of five.
Then there was the in-store experience. I was not only checking product sales against my paper coupons, but scouring multiple rebate apps like Ibotta to check for the best deals. I was also trying to coordinate those with in-store promotions such as Rite Aid’s and Walgreens’ spend X amount to get X amount of points deals. I was spending as long as an hour and a half in stores. It took FOREVER. I think I ticked off cashiers and people in line behind me several times, and employees often didn’t understand their own store’s coupon policy which made things more difficult. Sometimes things weren’t in stock and items weren’t priced at what couponing sites like The Krazy Koupon Lady said they were at their local stores—negating all the time spent printing out and/or gathering coupons needed for the deal, writing down the coupon-product combinations, and hunting down down the items.
When there were mistakes with my receipt, cashiers often were more annoyed with having to go through the hassle of complicated returns, and I often was only saving a few dollars by going back. It was often far more trouble than it was worth.
After growing increasingly disenchanted with couponing at Walgreens and Rite Aid stores, I tried shopping through their websites, and my life became easier.
It saves a lot of time and is far more pleasant not having to go to the physical store. I don’t have to deal with employees who can be unfriendly and unknowledgeable about promotions and couponing policies. I can take my time shopping without having to move out of the way for people or worry about whether security thinks I’m up to something fishy.
Both stores have digital coupons you can load through the website (or app, when you’re shopping in-store). It’s far easier to look through coupons from the site at home than in-store, plus it doesn’t eat into my cell phone data.
You still earn points online, and the checkout shows you when you have enough eligible items in your cart to be eligible for the point promotions before paying (this is unclear in-store).
When a coupon is available for an item, this will be indicated next to the product’s image—a huge time saver!
Their online stores often have promotions like 20% off your entire purchase with a promo code. Plus, you can start your online shopping trips from cash back shopping portals like Ebates or BeFrugal to get an additional 5–10% off. So if you could have saved more using paper coupons, or by using rebate apps (which generally don’t work with online purchases), these two factors can make up for the difference.
I also sometimes shop at Target, which is a special case doesn’t allow you to use Cartwheel coupons online. However, I still often prefer to shop online and wait for good sales, combining them with promo codes, going through cash back portals, and using my Target Red Card (which is hooked up to my main checking account) to get 5% off and free shipping on everything.
I’m definitely relieved to put those insane couponer days behind me.