I remember seeing a news report on T.V. several years ago featuring people who are addicted to “coupons” shopping. I was fascinated by some of the techniques these people had developed to get products for practically nothing.
As I was watching though, and later when I was looking at the coupon mailers we regularly get, I was struck by the fact that so many things that companies and merchants often offer coupons for, my family don’t use. Or at least, don’t use a large amount of regularly.
As I was watching, I realized I didn’t see the point of buying five tubes of toothpaste for less than the cost of one 4-5 times a year. I don’t know about you, but we don’t use nearly that much toothpaste in a 12 month period. So, instead of saving money, I would have spent money I didn’t need to instead, and I’d have to find a place to store 20-25 tubes of toothpaste.
So, the question you should ask yourself is this, “would I normally buy this product if I didn’t have a coupon?”
If the answer is a quick and definitive “No” then consider this, does your coupon shopping habits actually save you money, or only entice you to buy things you don’t need?
Other Ways to Save Money
If your primary purpose for coupon shopping is to save money, consider some of these other ways to accomplish this without risking papercuts.
Check to see if there are decent generic brands of the products you normally buy. Many stores now carry their own in-house brands of things like canned soups, bread, and even organic veggies. Check the day to day prices of these items to see how they compare to name brands. If you take them home and your family likes them, Great! You’ll automatically save money for that item each time you buy it.
Shop the Sales
Healthier items are more likely to go on sale than have a coupon. Just be sure that you are only buying items you use. You don’t want to get caught up in the same habits in sales that you do in coupons.
Only Shop When You Have a List – Then Stick to It
It’s very easy to get side-tracked by sale signs and in-store coupons as you peruse the aisles. With a list, you know exactly what you will need. Stick to it, and you have less of a chance to buy a bunch of items you don’t need.
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Choosing water, homemade iced tea, and homebrewed coffee instead of sodas, packaged juices and carry out coffee drinks will not only help you feel better but be better for your wallet.
Cook Foods and Snacks from Scratch
The cost of ingredients is often much lower in total than buying prepackaged, processed versions. This includes items like most meals, bread, snacks, pizza and more.
Avoid Dining Out
Eating out can be very expensive, even at most fast food places. If you are really in the mood for a cheeseburger and fries, make your own with ground beef and potatoes. Even if you buy the buns, you’ll still be able to feed your whole family for much less than a trip through the drive-thru would be.
Pack Your Work Lunch
The average dining out lunch if $10. The same amount could give you lunch supplies for a week.
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Alcohol is pricey, and even discount wines and beer can add up.
Not just for your health, also for your wallet. Calculate how much you spend a month on cigarettes. You will probably be surprised. Then, figure out how else you could use that money.
You Don’t Have to Give Up Coupons Altogether
Thanks to the digital age, the resources for both paper coupons and digital coupons have grown, and it’s easy to get caught up in coupon and Groupon fever.
As you sift and sort through all the great bargains out there, just remember, you’re only saving money if you are purchasing something you’d normally buy without a coupon.