If you’re like most shoppers you probably love saving a few bucks whenever you can, and there’s no easier way to save than to use a coupon!
In fact, some people I know routinely come home with a car load of groceries and other items they literally purchased for pennies on the dollar thanks to the awesome power of “couponing”.
Unfortunately, there are times and situations in which using a coupon can actually cost you money instead of help you save it.
Here are just a few examples:
1 – Using a coupon to buy something you’ll never use
Have you ever been thumbing through the coupons in the Sunday paper and found a deal that seemed too good to pass up, but it was for a product that you never use (or possibly even can’t use)?
Just the other day I saw a coupon for a food product that offered two for the price of one, with a smaller sample box of a different item thrown in for free.
The problem was the coupon was for something that I don’t like and never eat.
In fact, I wouldn’t have eaten it if they had given it to me for free!
If I had used that coupon I really could have saved a bundle off the regular prices of the items, but I would have lost money in the end because those items would have sat in my pantry unused until the earth stopped rotating on its axis.
Of course if I had known someone who could (and would) use those items I could’ve used that coupon to snag the great deal and then given the items away as gifts.
But I wouldn’t have actually “saved” a penny by using that coupon. I would have actually spent money for nothing aside from the satisfaction derived from giving those items to someone in need.
I do enjoy helping people when I can, but there are usually better ways to use my money to help someone than by using a coupon to purchase an item I’ll never use and no one I know really needs.
2 – Using a coupon that requires you to purchase more of an item than you’ll be able to use before it goes bad
I have an acquaintance who once found a coupon good for 75 cents off if he purchased three gallons of milk at the regular price.
That sounds like a decent deal, and it was. But there was a problem…
He ended up bringing home three gallons of milk from the grocery store, only to throw one of them out because it soured before he could use it.
3 – Using a coupon for an item that ends up costing more than a similar item would have cost without a coupon
I recently saw a coupon for 40 cents off a 16 ounce package of a name-brand cheese.
A 16 ounce package of a different brand that I happen to like and purchase on a regular basis was priced at 57 cents less than I would have paid for the other brand after using the coupon.
If I had used that coupon I would have actually “lost” 57 cents instead of “saving” the 40 cents that was listed on the coupon.
4 – Using a coupon that requires you to hand over your personal information
A while back I saw a coupon from one of the big box stores offering a product that normally sells for $39.99 for only $11.99.
What’s more, it was for a product that I do use and actually needed at the time.
Sounds like a great deal, right? I thought so too until I read the fine print.
Before I’d be allowed to use that coupon I’d have to join a “savings club” and hand over my name, mailing address and phone number to the retailer, who would almost certainly place my info on a mailing/cold-calling list and sell it to other companies.
Needless to say, I passed on the coupon and paid the regular price for the item (which was still a pretty decent deal compared to what that store’s competitors charged for that same item).
5 – Using a coupon that’s only valid at a certain store when you could purchase the item for less somewhere else
I’m sure you’ve seen coupons that stated that the offer was only valid at one certain store or chain.
Those types of coupons can often be great deals, but only if you can’t purchase the item at a competing store for a lower price even without using a coupon.
For example, the last time I went shopping for a television set the first store I went to had a circular with a coupon in it for $50 off the exact model I wanted to purchase.
I started to pull out my wallet and use that coupon on the spot, but something told me to do a little shopping around first.
I’m glad I did because the next store I visited had the same exact TV on sale that week for $110 less than I would have paid for it at the first store, even after using the coupon!
As you can see, to be successful at “couponing” you have to carefully evaluate the true value of the offer(s) listed on the coupon(s) you’re planning to use.
Just grabbing a coupon and using it because it appears at first glance to be a good deal could actually end up costing you money instead of helping you save it.
Even worse, some coupons that really do offer a great deal in monetary terms could end up costing you dearly in other ways (the loss of your privacy, for example).
After reading the above you might think I’m dead-set against using coupons, but I’m really not.
I use them all the time, and I have several family members that routinely use them to save big bucks on the items they purchase for their families.
All I’m saying is this: Not all coupons are great deals.
And truth be told, some of them are really horrible deals (like the one that would have required me to place myself on a mailing list).
Bottom line: When used judiciously coupons can help you keep more of your hard-earned money and enhance your quality of life.
Just remember that not all coupon offers are true bargains.
Bonus tip: Are you interested in taking your couponing to the next level? If so, check out this awesome video that explains how “extreme couponing” works: