This article discusses the dangers of casual couponing and the questions you need to ask yourself to avoid falling victim to them. This article may contain affiliate links, for more information please see my disclosure policy.
I will be the first to admit that I am obsessed with Ibotta. I search almost daily for deals at my frequent stores. I love a good coupon deal, however sometimes I have found myself wondering if they are really saving me money.
Professional vs. Casual Couponers
There are people that take it to the extreme and plan coupons with store policies and sales to get products for pennies on the dollar.
It is crazy to watch these people walk out of the store with ten carts overflowing with 327 tubes of toothpaste and unheard of amounts other random products that they paid a total of $3 for.
In my mind I would classify these people as professional couponers.
However, you are probably more of an Average Joe when it comes to coupons. You use a couple coupons here and there to get $0.50 your favorite cereal or maybe you submit a picture of your receipt to Ibotta to get a dollar off your body wash. You are a causal couponer.
Being a causal couponer is a double edge sword, you can save a good chunk of change on your everyday purchases but if you aren’t careful, you can end up spending more money or buying things you don’t need.
Businesses are in business to make money. Coupons are designed to help a business make more money in the long run.
Sure they might have to give you a discount on whatever you are buying this time, but what if you weren’t going to buy it at all in the first place? Or what if you get hooked and can’t live without their product so much so that you will buy it full price next time?
In order to avoid being trapped into spending more, ask yourself these questions before using a coupon
Would I have bought this product (or a similar one) anyways?
One of the biggest pitfalls of using coupons is when you buy something that you normally would not. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself clipping coupons for hair dye, dog tooth paste, or bouncy house rentals, all of which I have never bought or planned on buying before.
A bouncy house would be an awesome edition to our next weekend cookout, but I would have never have planned to rent one if it wasn’t for that 10% off coupon. I would actually be losing money (about $150, trust me I did look), because I had not planned to purchase it in the first place.
The easiest way to make sure you don’t get trapped by coupons is to make your shopping list first. Then, you can browse ads and apps looking for deals only on the items that are on your list.
Is there a generic or other sized product that is still cheaper after a coupon?
This one drives me crazy. I will see a coupon for butter which reminds me, “oh yeah we are out of butter!” I head to store, go to grab the butter on my coupon and realize that even after the coupon, it’s still $1 more than the store brand.
Ugh! Sneaky coupons at it again.
Just because you are saving money, doesn’t mean you are saving the most money possible.
Make sure you check all your options. Whether it’s a different brand or a different size, there might be a less expensive option.
Sometimes a coupon will only be for a small size but if you buy the larger or bulk size it’s less expensive than the little size + coupon combo.
How much am I really saving?
I hate when I see a coupon that has a big “$2.00 OFF” printed on it but then when you read the fine print you see that you actually have to by 37 of a product to get the discount (ok so it’s normally closer to 2 or 3 but it might as well be 37).
Sometimes you might be on the fence for one of the two previous questions… “well I do normally buy soap, but I haven’t run out yet so I don’t need it right this second, but it’s a great deal and I will need it eventually” and I get that, I do the same thing. At some point you are going to have to decide for yourself if the discount is worth you buying it before you need it.
Can you get the product for 90% off? 50%? 20%? only 10%? You need to decide what is the discount that you really think you have found the deal of a lifetime? Just remember, before you use a coupon make sure you read the fine print and figure out what discount you are really getting. $2 off of three $4 products is a lot different than $2 off one $4 product
So, next time you are scrolling Ibotta for deals at your favorite store, ask yourself these questions, and you will be well on your way to spending wisely and saving money!
Leave a comment telling me how you wisely use coupons
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