4 Reasons Paper Coupons May Be a Complete Waste of Time

Shhhh! Don’t tell my Mom that I may stop using paper coupons at my favorite grocery stores and drug stores. She’s going to flip out when she reads this. For as long as I remember my Mom has clipped coupons from the newspaper inserts. I followed in her footsteps by downloading and printing online coupons for the last few years.

Credit: TLC

I wasn’t as bad as those folks you saw on the TLC TV show, Extreme Couponing. But I did try their basic principle WITHOUT emptying store shelves.

The point of extreme couponing:

Buy sale items  + coupons =

Pay the absolute lowest price.

I have no need to stockpile cans of vegetables or bottles of ketchup like the folks on the TLC show because we don’t have the space. For the ones who donated their items to churches and charities, I had the most respect. But the ones who just hoarded items in their basements, I wasn’t as impressed.

I’m re-evaluating my love affair with paper coupons over the next few months to see if it’s really worth it – or a complete waste of time. My referral links to money-saving apps and programs are below. If you know someone who still uses paper coupons, share this story with them on Facebook!

Complete Waste of TimeNewspapers

I feel like such a hypocrite for discrediting paper coupons when I just signed up to get the Thursday – Sunday Atlanta Journal and Constitution (AJC) delivered. Thanks to the friendly sales guy sitting at Kroger –  I just paid $30 for a three month subscription. But got a $15 Kroger gift card as a bonus so my out of pocket expense was actually $15. If I find that I DON’T use $15 worth of paper coupons over three months, it won’t be worth it.

Local newspapers realize subscriptions are down though, so they’re doing everything they can to entice you to sign up.

Without a bonus like the one offered to me for the AJC, I wouldn’t have paid full price.

How do you maximize the savings from paper coupons and the weekly newspaper?


Clipping and organizing coupons takes a lot time.  I try to multi-task cutting coupons while watching my favorite TV shows. I even tried to show our son, A.J., how to cut them out on my super busy days.

But couldn’t I spend this time doing something else like cleaning, organizing a closet or taking a nap?

This month, I’ll start tracking how much time I spend actually clipping and organizing coupons to see if it’s really worth it.


Every month, I visit Coupons.com to print out the food, drug and family items we need. I don’t print out everything – only items we regularly use.

Although I re-use paper by printing coupons on the blank side of a previously used piece, it’s still an added expense of using paper coupons.


Last month,  I ran out of ink faster than usual and I realized the last thing I’d printed out was my monthly coupons.

I have an HP Photosmart printer that requires ink jet cartridges. After shopping around to compare prices at Target and Amazon, I finally fond

[Tweet “Save on ink cartridges for your #printed coupons with ComboInk online ordering”]

Take $5 off any combo pack product with code AFFTAKE5. Expires 2/29/2016

Comboink ComboPack



I have a coupon holder, a coupon folder, a coupon basket a stack of newspapers in the corner of my kitchen.

So if I’m not using paper coupons, how can I still save money?

Very easily, in fact. My Kroger grocery store app allows me to use its digital coupons on my regular purchases and even earn free purchases. This morning, I got Oreos (A.J.’s favorite cookie) and a can of chicken soup with wild rice for free thanks to a Kroger Customer bonus.

Free Food from Kroger

Ibotta Rebates

One way I’m saving without paper coupons on items I usually buy is with the Ibotta app. I earn cash back at Kroger, Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and an even longer list of stores.

FIRST: Sign-up online with my referral link OR referral code (phsda). You’ll earn a $10 bonus and I’ll earn $5. But be sure to register online FIRST.

SECOND: Download the Ibotta app. Login using the username and password you created.

THIRD: Before you hit the grocery store or even while you’re there, use the Ibotta app to see if your purchases are eligible for rebates. Ex. There may be a .25 rebate for Cottonelle toilet tissue on the app. Save the receipt for your purchase. Use the app to scan the bar code on Cottonelle once you get home from the store, take a quick survey on the app, scan the receipt to confirm your purchase. Within 24 hours Ibotta will add .25 to your account. This can add up! I usually earn back $5-$10 each month without clipping coupons, organizing them or remembering to bring them to the store!

FOURTH: Once you’ve reached $20 in rebates, redeem them for gift cards or send the money to your Paypal account.

Ibotta Friends


I’d love to find a way to avoid going inside a grocery store all together OR somehow get my shopping skills together so I can do a once a month shop that will last us. A lady can dream, right? Here are some ideas:

Online Ordering

Thanks to Amazon Prime NOW, I have ordered grocery delivery on days when I didn’t feel like fighting traffic, lugging groceries to the car, and unloading them at home. Prime Pantry and Subscribe & Save are other options to get your favorite household items delivered to your door.

Subscribe & Save: “Unlock extra savings on eligible subscriptions when you subscribe to five or more products at one address on your monthly delivery day. From diapers to toothpaste to dog treats, you can subscribe to thousands of everyday products from Amazon and Amazon Marketplace.”

Once a Month Shopping

I haven’t perfected it yet. But check out a sample of Once a Month Grocery Shopping at Aldi from 4 Hats and Frugal.

Based on your experience, is using paper coupons a complete waste of time?

About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

Check Also

4 Tips for Big Savings and Cash Back on Amazon #PrimeDay #PrimeDay2020

COVID-19 shook up the big plans for Amazon’s Prime Day which moved its two days …


  1. I’m a huge fan of finding a great deal, but I never use paper coupons anymore. These days, I can find pretty much the same deals using coupon and savings apps.

  2. Paper coupons have their uses but they are definitely time consuming. I need to check out the ibotta app.

  3. I used to use paper coupons. They just became such a hassle.

  4. I am all about a good deal, but paper coupons are definitely a pain. I find it much easier to shop and save online.

  5. You makes some good points. Physical coupons can be a ton of work. It’s nice to have easier alternatives these days.

  6. This ain’t your mother’s world anymore. Online shopping is the best way to do it anymore. If you are going to get coupons, then this is the way to go too. You can get so many great deals that way.

  7. I used to clip and collect paper coupons but I misplace them or forget to take them with me when I go out to shop. Lately, I have been using online coupons, and apps which are more convenient for me. I have not signed up yet for Ibotta, but I think I should soon. I love that you have an option to send your rebates to your Paypal account.

  8. I used to be so good at using the paper coupons. I haven’ t been for years though. Now I need to find a good online app that I like to use for savings!

  9. These are really amazing! You’ve got a lot of useful tips in here! I’m definitely trying these apps!

  10. I really need to start using Ibotta. I have seen and heard so much good from it!

  11. I am definitely a fan of coupons I don’t have to cut which is why I don’t know how it has taken me this long TO FIND out about Ibotta! Thanks for putting this app on my radar!

  12. I think for smaller residences like ours, such an approach would amount to too much clutter, as you mention.
    There comes time to limit the amount of stockpiling a household can do.
    Another point to consider is expiration dates of certain items.

  13. Reesa Lewandowski

    I used to coupon A LOT. But then I realized I was actually buying products that I didn’t even need just because I had a good coupon for it.

  14. I haven’t cut physical coupons in years. I rely on apps or digital coupons now. I wish I could be like those extreme couponers getting their entire cart for free, but I just don’t have the time.

  15. I am all about the digital coupons these days. I just dont have the time or energy to get all the inserts to become an extreme couponer.

  16. I agree, there are plenty of digital coupons nowadays, It is easier to keep and use.

  17. I used to be a extreme couponer years ago. I loved the rush but the time commitment was out of this world.