Friday, February 24, 2006

Rule #12: Coupons

  • Pay attention to coupons
This would seem to be a personal finance no-brainer, right? You look out for coupons, buy things for a little less, what's not to love? For grocery and pharmacy items that are repeat-purchase staples, I definitely try to use coupons. Sometimes it's a little annoying if the coupon requires you buy a lot of something, but I know I'll use these basic things, so I will stock up a little to get the discount if I have to-- it makes perfect sense. But there is another part to this rule:

  • Ignore coupons
Aside from the aforementioned items, I don't go looking for coupons, and I often don't use the ones I come across. Too often, seeing a coupon makes you think you should buy something that you probably didn't need. It makes you go to that store or website, and once you're there, you end up spending money. Sometimes coupons are only good on a large size of something, at McDonald's, for instance, where you end up paying what you would have paid for the smaller size you should have gotten in the first place. Sometimes the coupons aren't valid on certain merchandise, so you end up picking up all kinds of stuff at Macy's only to discover that since it was already on sale the coupon won't give you any additional discount but you buy the stuff anyway.
I pretty much try to ignore these kinds of coupons and discount deals. When I need to buy something major, I'll look around to see if I can get a deal anywhere. If I can't, I'll buy the thing anyway. If I end up buying fewer unnecessary things overall, I think that makes up for possibly paying a few dollars more for the ones I do buy.

Some more thoughts on coupons in this post and its comments.

14 comments:

Him (Make Love, Not Debt) said...

I think that the "ignore coupons" is a great piece of advice. She recently posted a bunch of articles on coupons, and I can tell you first hand that sometimes we unnecessarily go out of our way just to use a coupon.

mti said...

I don't use coupons. Like you mention, it makes me go to a store and buy at least one item I don't need. The drugstores (CVS/RiteAid/Walgreens) are an example. Additionally, most of the food items advertised are not particularly healthy anyway. I've found ignoring coupons to be a good use of my time. :)

Empty Spaces Inc. said...

talking about coupons, i just added a post on grocery shopping

http://moneyshaker.blogspot.com/2006/02/adventures-in-grocery-shopping.html

I also added a link to your blog.

Anonymous said...

A good place for coupons and other deals is

NoBrainerDeals.com

I like it cause even though I might be looking for something if I dont need it I can walk away since I am not at the store.

KumikoDee said...

I never look at coupons I snagged until they expire, so I haven't bothered with those (I have little self-discipline). What I have found REALLY helps, though, is to only buy food items at store that are on sale. I suck at cooking (big time) so I usually have to buy meals that are quick, easy, or come in a can, so it helps to look around. Once I started paying attention to that, it started helping a lot. I just walk down the isles, spot a frequent 10 for 10 deal (Safeway), then snag a few if I know I'll use it. The first time I did that, I saved $45 on food when I spent $50. Talk about a happy ending! Instead of buying Spaghetti O's whenever, I just buy a ton of 'em for a buck each and end up saving a LOT. It also means less trips to the store because I can stock up on cheap stuff - when it's cheap!

Anonymous said...

I don't like to use coupons. Long time ago , I collected the coupons, I went to the store to buy the item. You know what, I totally forgot I had the coupon in my wallet.... What a total waste of time.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have discovered the Entertainment book or mail coupons as a great way to eat out for less. Typically the coupons are 2 for 1 deals, but I can't tell you how many times we've gone out for 1/3 to 1/2 of the cost, just by choosing a restaurant with a coupon versus one without. restaurant.com and other online discounters work as well.

I used to clip newspaper coupons for grocery purchases, but definitely bought things I wouldn't otherwise have bought (sometimes on purpose, as a coupon would "give me permission") and often forgot them when it was something I really needed. But too much time and energy went into saving 50 cents. However, when you're saving $8 to $10 on average (and up to $20 or more on occasion) at a restaurant, you really feel like you are getting a bargain. And often we end up discovering great little restaurants we've never heard of before!

Erik said...

I don't typically use coupons because usually they're for more expensive name-brand groceries when another brand or the store-brand is actually cheaper even with the coupon considered. For me, there are certain foods where brand typically matters and certain foods that don't.

I do look for coupons though when I purchase anything online. It's usually pretty easy to do a google search for a discount code for a dot-com store.

Anonymous said...

Coupons are single click means to save money. I got so savvy discount coupons from CouponAlbum site for online shopping.

The Innovative Traveler said...

I sometimes buy coupons from ebay if I know in advance I need something big. Like an annoying AC unit for my crappy Brooklyn kitchen to which I'll otherwise succumb to heat exhaustion watching my food cook itself. Anyway, I got one from Lowe's for $5 and saved myself $50.

I also google for coupons when I travel. I once got $50/one way tickets from NY to Montreal on Amtrak. Shocker, since they're usually more expensive than taking a cab the entire way there.

www.theinnovativetraveler.com

Anonymous said...

IF you online shop...and you want something and you plan to but it...check oout retailmenot.com first and see if there are coupons for everything from free shipping to 15% of purchase.

Thomas Anthony said...

Using coupons is an incredibly smart step. Don’t let the good stuff fall through the cracks! There is free coupon organizing software available at: http://www.couponandcodes.com
good luck - Tom

Chicago Chica said...

Maybe a good rule is to clip only those coupons on things that you would buy anyway.

Anonymous said...

there is a learning curve to "doing coupons" well. Basically, match coupons on "loss leaders" and sales items ONLY. Base you menu for the week on those items. It is more difficult if you have little space to store items. see moneysavingmom(dot)com
for full expanation.