Posted on August 24, 2010

Cost Breakdown: Buying Newspapers for Coupons VS. Buying Whole Inserts Online

I have been telling you how I recently started receiving whole coupon inserts by mail.  Instead of trudging out to the store each Sunday, they arrive in my mailbox, safe and sound.  No stack of newspapers to deal with, just glorious coupon inserts.

I received a bunch of comments from readers expressing an interest in purchasing inserts online, but wondering if it was still worth it after paying for shipping.

I decided to break down the costs for you- obviously cost will vary depending on how many inserts you choose to buy.  Almost all inserts from Whole Coupon Inserts are $.50 each or less.  This past week’s (8/22) SmartSource insert (the only insert in the paper) is $.60 – I’m figuring that’s b/c it was a REALLY thick insert with some great high value coupons.

Examples of Shipping Costs

  • Up to 100 inserts Priority Flat rate $10.70 (great option if you & some friends want to buy a bunch and split shipping!)
  • 25 to 35 inserts Priority flat rate $5.25

Or you can choose standard first class rates, which are determined on weight.
Approx: less than 4 inserts around $2.00, 6 is around $2.50
You can place items in shopping cart and it will figure out shipping rates to your zip code.

In the past, on a typical week, I purchased 5 Sunday Papers.

Paper Price

Dollar Tree: $1/each x 5 = $5/week (Dollar Tree is always my first choice b/c the price is cheaper… but my local store does not get many papers in- maybe 20-30.  If I get there late they are gone and I have to go elsewhere and pay face value.)

Walmart (other pretty much any other store): $1.75/each x 5 = $8.75/week

Whole Coupon Insert Price

SmartSource 8/22 Insert: $.60/each x 5 = $3/week


1st class (by weight) – about $2.50

Priority (flat rate) – $5.25

Total for 5 SS Inserts + Shipping = $5.50 (1st class) or $8.75 (Priority)

Now, of course, most weeks the newspaper comes with at least TWO inserts, so you will have to adjust your price by a few dollars acordingly…

On a typical week, the Red Plum & SmartSource Inserts are $.50/each.

5 RP + 5 SS @ $.50/each=  $5 for inserts

Total for 5 SS + 5 RP + shipping= $8 (1st class) or $10.25 (Priority)

The bottom line: the prices are very comparable to each other.  The more inserts you purchase, the more it costs- both buying papers and buying whole inserts online.

You need to ask yourself 2 things:

Am I willing to pay a couple/few dollars more for papers each week in exchange for the conveniences of not going to the store and not dealing with stacks of unread newspapers?

Will the money that I save from the coupons in these inserts more than make up for the cost to buy/ship them?

For myself, the answers to both of these questions are YES. But please, think about what will work best for your family – both convenience and budget wise.

Here is a little example of how I can justify this service for my family.

Last week I received (10) SmartSource Inserts priced at $.60/each = $6:

smartsource stack coupon inserts

Shipping for Priority service was $5.25.

Total value of inserts/shipping for 8/22 coupons = $11.25

Right off the bat, I was able to use a whopping SIX high value coupons from those inserts.  I used the following coupons at CVS this week:

2 $3/1 Glade Sense and Spray Starter Kit Coupons

glade sense and spray coupons

I also used 3 $3/1 John Frieda Root Awakenings coupons:

john frieda root awakenings coupons


Right there, in ONE DAY, in ONE TRIP to ONE STORE I was able to use $15 in coupons.


Paid for + overage.

Now obviously, that won’t happen that quickly every week…  but the coupons in these inserts typically won’t expire for at least a month or two.  So much time to use more- the savings will surely add up.

So that’s it, that’s my break down of my situation.  I was honestly very surprised that the price could even come close to heading to the store each week.

What do you think?  Is this something you would try (or have tried)?

  • Heather H.

    Just curious, are all of the inserts the same? We subscribe to two different papers, the local paper and the Washington Post. The Washington Post tends to have more coupons (especially Red Plum), but at times the local paper will have higher value coupons. So, I’ve actually found it easier to then get an extra paper with whichever coupons are better for us, or order those coupons from a coupon clipping service.

    • Yes- all of the inserts are the same. They *look* to me like the higher value coupons – all inserts are from the Tampa Tribune. I am in the same boat here- there are 2 papers available- one is the big Philadelphia paper with the better SmartSource coupons.. but the Red Plums were pulled from the paper!! The local paper has the Red Plum but the lower value SS inserts. I was stuck no matter what. I will know for sure if these contain the *better* coupons when certain ones- like Dannon- come out. My small town paper NEVER has those!

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  • Julie

    Also, don’t forget the cost of gas to drive to the store and get papers. The local store that is a mile from me only carries the local paper. That paper has LOWER value coupons than the Atlanta paper and some weeks will only have one insert when there should be two AND many times the inserts are MUCH smaller. So, in order to buy an Atlanta paper I have to drive 29 miles ONE WAY and an Atlanta papers are $3.00 each!! So for six papers I’d pay 18 bucks! I generally purchase a bulk package of 6 inserts each that cost me w/shipping well under $15!! So.. considering gas is near $4 a gallon here and my vehicle only gets 17 mpg… I’m saving WAY more paying for the insert service.

    • Great point! WOW – can’t imagine having to drive that far for a paper… but I’m sure MANY people are in the exact same boat!

  • Amanda

    About how long does it take for the inserts to arrive? I’m just getting into couponing, and am having trouble finding inserts. I’m not sure if someone has intentionally removed them from the papers, or if there were never any there, but at the two different stores I tried in my town yesterday evening that still had papers, neither had any with inserts.

    • That’s so frustrating!

      My inserts typically arrive by Monday or Tuesday each week. So I would expect the inserts from yesterday’s paper to come in today’s mail or tomorrow’s mail.

  • Brenda

    I really think I’ll have to get those inserts! I live in the middle of nowhere, and our paper does have Smartsource… but only on sheet and usually for dog food. I don’t need anything extreme, I just want to be able to save! I wonder how shipping would be from Florida to UP, MI?

    • Brenda

      I’m replying to myself but… We also don’t have a CVS, RiteAid, or Walgreens. Only a Walmart, and local grocers.

    • Shipping for 5-10 or so would probably run around $5 for Priority mail. :)

  • Jazzy

    I just wanted to add too that I live in Montana and we get almost close to nothing in our papers so I find ordering them online very helpful. My only problem I have is getting them an entire week later! So, I go tot he store still and look through the coupons to see if I need any right away for my Walgreens run. If I dont then I walk away. If I do I spend that 2.00 to get those certain deals and then wait for my inserts. Another thing as well, our paper here that carries the inserts are 2.00 each with low coupons so I spend money to have them sent to me from FL that have much thicker inserts so yes, I think in the end I save.

    • Great thoughts – sounds like you definitely do save by having them delivered!

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