The Truth About Couponing in the United States



My name is Lauren Staton and I’m 63 living in the United States. I’m married and have a 40 year old son. I do use coupons, but not as much now as I use to. I got most of my coupons through our Sunday papers. Once they raised the price of the newspaper to $5.00, I did not feel it was worth buying the paper just for the coupons...which was the only reason I was buying it. It is only myself and husband now, as my son does not live with us. I felt that we were not getting more than $5.00 back in coupons anymore. When my son was younger, the newspaper was $1.00 and it was worth buying the paper to get the coupons…even if I only saved $3.00. Years ago my average coupon savings was between $1.00 to $15.00 a week. Households with children utilize more coupons. The more you buy, there is a greater possibility of using more coupons, equalling more savings.


For this article, I am not considering coupons for medicines, vitamins or diapers. Things like these can have one coupon worth $5.00 to $10.00. This article is about the coupons you can get for things like food, soaps and cleansers that you find not in the pharmacy isle.



Couponing in America isn’t like the TV show; “Extreme Couponing”. There is a very low percentage of people who would fall into the category of an extreme couponer. Like me, most people get their coupons from the Sunday paper. Of course, with the many coupons offered, you might only be able to use maybe 5 coupons...and on good days 10 of them. Possibly, some people will ask their friends and family if they can have their unused coupons, so they can buy a few of one item that they use a lot. I’ve done that. That will up your savings.


The reason the show was a success in America, was because it was new to the American people too. We never saw anything like it...which was the draw of the show. We too, thought the people featured on the show took couponing to extremes and many times they became the brunt of jokes with comedians and some Americans. Living in America, we knew most people were not like this.



Usually, people just get their coupons from the Sunday paper. More serious people, might buy a few papers or share their unwanted coupons with friends and family...increasing their savings. For even more serious couponers, there are actual couponing clubs, where a lot of people share their unneeded coupons. There are also coupon websites, though I am not sure how they work…but, I think you buy the coupons on those sites. But, nonetheless you are never able to go grocery shopping and have enough coupons to almost pay for everything you are buying, unless you are only buying the things you have coupons for. But that wouldn’t be a real legitimate weekly shopping trip. Because’s it’s an impossibly to get your usual grocery shopping for free or even half off. There are never or rarely coupons for necessities, other than flour, sugar, juices, baby products and cleansers. The only are coupons that could qualify for some kind of a meat purchase, is for TV dinners and hotdogs.

I would think that most people who clip coupons only save from a few dollars to $20.00 per shopping trip. That is nothing, since most families with children spend $200.00 to $400.00 a week on groceries, depending on the size of their families and if they have enough money to buy meats. If you’re buying hotdogs and hamburgers, your grocery bill could be at that lower end.



The TV show was a scripted reality show. But, they also used expired coupons and nonexistent coupons. They had one (maybe more) grocery stores double all the coupons given to them. Before the show, all coupons were doubled with a value under $1.00. You could not get a $1.00 or more coupon doubled. After the show, with more people trying it, I’ve heard that some grocery stores have put a limit to the number of coupons they’ll double. My grocery store does not have a limit. There are more coupons under $1.00 than over a dollar. I love coupons that are 55 or 75 cents, as they double those.

About the stockpiles shown on that TV Show. I don’t think there are many people with those huge stockpiles. Most people do not have a room, or even a half a room designated just for groceries. Many people have shelves in basements or garages that they could store some overflow of groceries. Just as I am sure there are some people who have a whole room just for groceries; I’m sure some people have smaller stockpiles, that we would consider way to much. I personally don’t know anyone who has them. The people who have the huge stockpiles like on the TV show, would have to spend hours and hours on couponing and organizing their shopping. (Which I’ve read could be about 40 hours a week.) Most of the stuff they don’t need and have so many of one item, that they will never use them. I did like the one show where the people donated it to the church. That was nice, but I don’t know if it was true.



Having said all that, it is very possible to get a great buy sometimes! You can get a coupon for a dollar off some item, and then that item is on sale for $1.50. So you end up paying 50 cents. That can happen relatively often, but you won’t find a lot of them in the same month. It will make you really happy when it happens and you’ll get that nice you’ve “won” feeling…but, it’s only for an item once and awhile.

From what I’ve read, it sounds like extreme couponing is a full time job. But, they do not tell you how much money they are spending on papers or online coupons from couponing websites. Though, when people share their coupons on couponing clubs, they are free. It’s a give and take system. I read that it wasn’t true, when the people on the show went into dumpsters for their coupons. I use to get coupons from my mother and mother-in-law, so I was happy when there were things I needed a few of.

I think the show actually brought the idea of extreme couponing to the American people. There were maybe a handful of people prior to the show that would fit in that category. Afterwards there were many who believed the show and tried their hand at it. But, I’m sure they were disillusioned when they realized that the coupons they had, were not coupons that were needed for their weekly grocery shopping. They weren’t able to buy the things they needed each week. I love to save money too on cleaners, deodorant, juices, pasta, TV dinners, frozen vegetables...things like that...but, you’re still spending a few hundred dollars more on the other things you need per trip.

Now, let’s talk about just clipping coupons and saving some money. We can all do that. Coupons are great! Though, if you want to utilize as many coupons as possible, you will probably end up buying brands that you don’t use. Like instead of the brand of ketchup you love, you might get a coupon for another brand. I think we all have a product that we will only buy in a certain brand. Like I will only buy Heinz ketchup, no matter if I could get another ketchup for free. For extreme couponers, they buy only the brands they have coupons for.

Nowadays, using coupons each week, you’ll find you can easily save $3.00 to $20.00 a week. Your savings will not be the same from week to week. For those who are more serious, and have no problems spending hours couponing, and are happy to buy any brand…I can see them saving even more. With the savings you get through your coupons, you can put that toward things you don’t get coupons for…like milk or meat. When my son was young, I use to take the money I saved using coupons and take him out for a hotdog and to a dollar store for a toy each week. It was a lot of fun. Clipping coupons was a wonderful way for me to get a few extra dollars, to be able to do things like that.


There are some items you can save a whole lot more on. I personally love over-the-counter medicine coupons. I did not include those coupons above, as those coupons could be up to $10 for one item. Those usually come out seasonally. I’ve used them in the past and have benefitted from them; usually saving about $30 for the winter season. If you buy a few bottles a season, you can try and get a coupon from a family, friend or neighbor…and buy a few bottles, saving a lot more.


What percentage of your grocery bill will you save with coupons? It totally depends on items you normally buy. If you buy a lot of chips, cookies, juices, pasta, TV dinners and cleaners etc... You can save more. I don’t think you can say a percentage as it all depends on how much your coupons are for, and how many of the items you are buying. If chips are $4.79 and the most you can get off for that item is $’re still paying $3.79 per bag of chips. Though, when there is a sale, like 2 bags of chips for $5.00…that is where you really can get the savings. Combining sales and coupons ups your savings. That is why extreme couponers will shop at multiple stores each week.

It costs only the price of a newspaper in the United States to try your hand at clipping coupons and see if it’s worth your time. If you are only investing a few minutes a week in clipping the coupons, it is definitely worth trying. I think it’s fun to clip coupons and see how much you can save each week. I miss clipping coupons. It only takes about 5 minutes to clip coupons from our newspapers. With very little time invested, you can save money and that is always worth it. You’ll get such a thrill when you save $20.00 off your grocery bill once in a while. Also, don’t forget the added savings when you find medicine and diaper coupons. That can be up to a $10.00 savings per item.



A lot of prices have gone up since the pandemic. Meat has double in price. I don’t think the prices will go down. Before, when there was a gas shortage, prices went up. Companies passed their higher gas costs to their buyers. Once the gas prices came down...the prices did not go back down. In my opinion, once the companies no longer paid higher gas prices, they should have returned their prices to what they were. Now that some prices have gone up because of Covid, I don’t expect those prices to go back down. It is really expensive to go to the grocery store anymore.

To me…the real savings are through your grocery store’s loyalty card. Each week you can earn gas points, which results in phenomenal savings. Literally…like getting free gas. It’s a HUGE savings. Plus, grocery stores give their own coupons, through their loyalty cards or at the register. I will talk about these next time.



In my opinion, don’t go into couponing thinking you’ll save half off your groceries. Start it, just to see how much you can save. It’s fun and everyone needs a few extra dollars each week. Then every so often…you’ll get that buy that will make you smile from ear to ear.