The Old-School Habit That Saves Me $10 Every Time I Run Errands

published Aug 24, 2023
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The year 2002 called: It asked me why on earth I was sitting at my kitchen table with a pair of scissors, clipping coupons out of paper ads, when there’s a whole world of high-powered couponing apps that help shoppers save money with the click of a button.

Fair question, 2002. I don’t have a good answer beyond that I like it — and I can’t be bothered to download more apps. 

You see, every couple weeks, my wonderful mail carrier stuffs a free packet of coupons into my physical mailbox. These coupons are tucked in with tree removal service flyers and weekly mailers from grocery stores. Sometimes, coupons are set aside in their own envelope, offering deals from nearby businesses. Whether the coupons are for Dawn dish soap or my local coffee shop, I will take them. I love clipping my little coupons.

It’s an old-school habit for sure, but it reliably saves me $10 or so every time I run errands. I delight in cutting out coupons for products I already buy — this is a key part of the money-saving component — and sticking them in the front pocket of my fanny pack. (Truly, what year is it?) This way, every time I’m out and about, I can present a tiny square of paper that is essentially free money to the cashier. 

Credit: igor kisselev/Shutterstock

Take, for example, my recent trip to Walgreens for a new tube of mascara. The kind I buy is somehow $15.99 these days, but with the $3-off coupon I had ready and waiting, I paid $12.99. Two more coupons for face sunscreen and gummy vitamins netted me $9 in savings. Thanks, tiny squares of paper!

Back in the day, I used to work as a cashier at a grocery store in my hometown. I remember skillful shoppers handing me wads of coupons and watching their total inch downward. Then, after they’d left, the next customer in line would make a snarky comment about time versus money, and Was it really worth it to spend all that time clipping coupons just to save a couple bucks? The answer in my case is yes, because I really do enjoy spending a few minutes looking over a packet of coupons. (It’s five minutes that I’m not scrolling TikTok!) And it kicks off my weekly ritual of making a grocery list, which I write down on paper as well.

Recently, I was telling a friend about my newfound coupon-clipping habit. I sang the praises of all the coupons that are literally delivered to my door for free. She admitted tossing out those mailers every week, and not giving them a second glance. The horror! I urged her (and I urge you) to at least flip through the coupon books to see if there are savings on products you regularly purchase. Why pay $5 for your favorite granola bars when you could pay $3?