I use three shopping apps that give me rebates on certain items I buy. I print coupons almost every morning while I drink coffee, and I use coupons every time I shop. These things save me money at the store, which is the whole point of doing them.
I have learned, however, that there is one really great, and possibly even more important benefit of spending time planning my shopping trips.
There is a fat envelope in my purse where coupons are arranged according to Walmart's store layout. This helps me find what I need if I run across a good deal I hadn't anticipated. Also, my phone's data is turned on to my shopping apps so that I can scan bar codes and make sure that items "match" the rebates. So there is a lot of juggling going on in my grocery basket while I go slowly up and down the aisles. Add reading glasses to the mix - they come off, they go on, they come off, etc - and it's kind of like actual work.
I spend time organizing before I go to the store, and I spend time in the store, making sure I get the very best bargain I can. So it's a time investment and it's important to me to protect that.
Now, imagine planning all this out and you get home and realize the clerk has charged you twice for something and you bought only one. If you're not couponing, it might not be a big deal. You think, well, they make mistakes in my favor sometimes, too, and it probably all evens out eventually. Or it's not worth standing in line at the service desk to make things right. Or, worst, you might not even notice! But when you do coupon, and clip, and plan, and organize, it's kind of a big deal.
There is a bench just inside the entrance of my Walmart where I now sit after I've checked out, and I look at my receipt. It's easy to find mistakes because I know exactly what I've paid for every item, and what should be in my basket, and how many coupons should be subtracted from my total. If I find a mistake, guess what? I roll back in the door and up to the service desk and get it fixed. I've already invested time, so what's a little more? I swear this is the mindset you have when saving money on groceries becomes important to you.
So the unexpected benefit of couponing is total awareness of what I am spending. I never, ever just throw something in my basket anymore. I make very few purchases that I have not carefully planned. And I know exactly what my receipt should look like. The pennies become important. And they add up to dollars.