Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frugality- Avoiding the Pitfalls of Coupons

Everyone loves a  good deal, and if you aren't careful you may find yourself falling into some coupon pitfalls! Here is a list of things to be careful of:

  • Buying something that isn't actually the best deal because you have a coupon and/or it is on sale. That is the main point of coupons and sales to get you to buy something. Be cognizant of other items on the shelf. Would it be cheaper to buy the store brand? Would it be better to buy a larger and smaller size with the coupon? 
  • Buying an item you wouldn't normally spend your money on because it has a coupon and/or is on sale. You won't be saving yourself any money if you buy something you normally wouldn't even if it is "a really great deal." There are exceptions like free or money makers, but if you spend $1.00 on four frozen meals, but you don't like to eat frozen meals and end up just moving them around in your freezer saying to yourself "I should probably eat this, but I'd rather have _____" then you really have lost a dollar (and your freezer space) in the end. 
  • Buying an item you don't even use because it has a coupon and/or is on sale. This is just a bad idea. You don't need to buy cat food, if you don't have a cat, even if you can get 12 bags for $1. The exception is if you are buying it to give to the animal shelter, than by all means go ahead, otherwise stick to what your family needs. 
  • Buying things you don't want in your household because it has a coupon and/or is on sale. I don't drink alcohol, tea, or coffee. So even if those items are a great sale, I'm not going to buy them. It's part of my religion, and so I won't even buy them if they are free. If you are a diabetic, it wouldn't make sense to buy cookies even if it is the best deal ever. If you have a child with a severe peanut allergy, you don't want to buy peanut butter. If your on a diet, you might not want to buy certain foods (unless you have incredible will power to keep yourself from eating it before you get to donate it...). Again, it's wasted money if it costs you something in the end (more medication, more diets, etc.)
  • Buying an item you couldn't possibly use before it's expiration because it has a coupon and/or is on sale. I discussed this some last week with stockpiling, but it's worth mentioning again. Just because there is a great deal on cough syrup doesn't mean you need to go buy 6 of them. Medicine is one thing you don't mess with expiration dates on, so if you end up throwing it away, you lost money no matter how great the deal was. Medicines are also something that isn't easily donated, especially obscure ones like Vivarin and Sominex. 
  • Buying items when you already have 100 of them just because they have a coupon and/or are on sale. This again goes back to the stockpiling thing. If you have 100 boxes of pasta it would probably be best to sit out on the deal until you've used some of the pasta. Again, if you end up throwing away food, then you have lost money not saved it.
  • Buying items that you have a coupon for and/or are on sale, but then you never cook. Ok, look I know we all have the best intentions to cook lots of great meals and all that, but if you find yourself going out to eat a lot because you don't feel like cooking, then it would be better to just not buy that much in terms of groceries otherwise you end up buying a bunch of food for it to go bad and then paying for more food when you go out. Menu planning is a huge help for this because for most people it happens because they get home and look in the pantry/fridge and just see a bunch of food that they have no idea how to turn into a meal. If you think ahead, then you will be better off.
  • Never splurging because you don't have a coupon and/or it isn't on sale. You could easily find yourself not buying things because it isn't a great deal. Sometimes it is ok to splurge. You also need to know that sometimes the deal won't be the same every time, and so it would be better to use the coupon you have then to wait for it to be the best price ever. 
Couponing can be addicting. So just think through the items you purchase. Don't fall for the thrill of a deal and consciously decide to buy every item you put in your cart. Think to yourself is it the best price, do I need it, do I want it, and will I use, and you will be sure to save money and not waste money.
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