The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

2.18.2006

It only takes 5 to cut and save

I usually spend my Saturday mornings pretty leisurely. Brew a hot beverage, make some toast, and sit down with the newspaper inserts. I don't go through all the sale pages, only the stores I shop at regularly.

Luckily for me, there is a CVS Pharmacy right near my home, which is where I do most of my household shopping. It's especially convenient after having purchased heavy and bulky items like laundry detergent and 12-roll packs of Charmin. Since I don't have a parking space in my building, I am forced to lug my bags from a spot on the street several blocks away. So I avoid buying those items from big box stores that require me to get into the car.

Anyway, I estimate that it takes no more than five minutes total to leaf through the coupons from the paper and cut out the ones for items I use. The $1.00 coupons for Tide, Crest, and Charmin add up to considerable savings, since these products regularly go on sale at my CVS.

This 5 minute time investment often saves me a minimum of $5 every other week. That $5 buys me a Potbelly sandwich on the days I don't bring my lunch to work. That $5 buys me more laundry detergent when it's on sale (the stuff is expensive!).

I've read personal finance articles that encourage coupon cutting. But surprisingly, many stories also discourage it as being a waste of time. Are we so busy that 5 minutes of our time aren't worth 5 extra dollars in our pockets? I don't think so.

How many of us have taken advantage of department store sales offering coupons for 15% off all clearance items? It feels pretty good buying that $25 shirt with a coupon. You saved $3.75 (oops, minus the 5% sales tax, you really saved $2.50 but who's counting?). Still, you got a bargain.

So take the 5 minutes out of your precious day to cut coupons. You'll save just as much, if not more, than that bargain buy at the department store.