How Using Coupons Can Cost Shoppers Money
I am a strong believer that using coupons will save most people money. But there are some situations when coupons can actually cost us more money. Here are some of the ways that coupons could actually be making us dig deeper into our pockets.
Spend X Amount and Get X Amount Off
Coupon offers that require that you spend a certain amount of money to get the discount can be risky. This type of offer tempts shoppers to try find items to buy in order to qualify for the discount. It is always best to shop with a list and try to stick to the list. If the items that you need to qualify are on your list, then go for it. If not, it is often best to wait for a better coupon offer.
Use the Coupon Before it Expires
Nobody likes to see a great coupon go into the trash, but there is no rule that says you must use every coupon before it expires. In fact, if you find that you are pushing yourself to use a coupon just because it may expire, it may be time to take a break away from couponing.
Buy More Than You Need
Buying multiple quantities of the same item just because you have multiple coupons can end up tying up your cash flow on something you can't possibly use within a reasonable amount of time. Scoring a great deal on items that are used regularly can be a big payoff, but not paying your electric bill to do it is poor money management. If you find that you are doing this, it may be time to focus in on the real reason that you use coupons.
BOGO Offers That You Don't Need
I am often tempted by buy-one/get-one free offers, but there are times when I feel myself reaching for a BOGO item when in reality, I really do not want it, will probably never use it and if I buy it, I'll be wasting money. It only takes a second to ask yourself, do I really need this? If the answer is no, save your money for something that you will really use.
Over-Rewarding Yourself for Using Coupons
Sometimes couponers will go through hours of matching up their coupons with sales, clipping, loading up coupons, and then carefully shopping in order to maximize their savings. And then after they finish, they splurge and spend all of that savings as a way to congratulate themselves for being so frugal. This kind of cycle can defeat the purpose of using coupons to save money and in the end, all that has been accomplished is an enormous amount of wasted time.
Using Store Charge Cards for Discounts
Buyer beware. It is very tempting to pull out a store's credit card to earn a percentage off of your total purchase, but unless you are super disciplined and prepared to pay off the card each month, this type of strategy can run up your credit card balances very quickly.
Wasting Gas to Use a Coupon
It is not unusual for couponers to visit more than one store in order to save money by using their coupons, but if you find yourself going out of your way to use one or two coupons, it is time to get out the calculator and compare the gas you just used to the value of the coupon. Also, you have to figure in the time you spend getting to the additional store. Remember, your time is worth money.
My grocery store often runs a dollar off promotion if you spend a certain amount of money. I actually like these offers, unless I did not intend to buy as much as the promotion requires. This is one way stores get shoppers to spend more money and unless it was part of my shopping plan, I try to just walk away with what I intended to buy. If I miss the savings, I'll get it during another shopping trip.