Saving money is a big priority for everyone today. Cutting costs on everyday expenses can in some cases mean the difference between being able to pay your bills or not. Many people are returning to coupon clipping as a way to cut food costs.
Is coupon clipping the answer? Can you really save money by using coupons when you shop? A simple internet search will return hundreds of websites claiming to show you how to save money by couponing. I have no doubt that there is money to be saved by shopping prudently and using coupons judiciously. However there are some pitfalls the uneducated couponer might fall into.
Buying What You Don’t Need
Manufacturers make money when you buy their products. Coupons are designed to get you to do just that. Sometimes the offer on the coupon seems so unbelievably good we can’t resist the temptation to buy the item – even when it is something we would never buy if we didn’t have that coupon in our hands. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of “how much you saved” by using coupons but if the item will sit in the cupboard forever, then what have you really gained. Use common sense when shopping with coupons.
Beware the Fine Print
Be careful when you redeem your coupons. Often they are printed for a specific quantity or a particular size container. Often when a shopper has made the wrong selection, by the time they reach the checkout line, they just want to be done. When the cashier points out they have the wrong product or quantity, they go ahead and buy it anyway just to be done with it. The savings from the coupon is lost because the customer will probably not need to buy more of it before the coupon expires.
Coupons vs. Discount Stores
Many of us regularly shop at discount stores such as Save-a-Lot or Aldi’s. These stores offer knock off brands at lower prices than name brands in the chain store outlets. Often, these knock offs are the same exact product as the name brand ones just in different packaging. You can save money by buying these each week instead of hoping and waiting for a sale and a coupon on the name brand item at the bigger stores. It is true that when you combine a sale and a coupon, you can beat the discount store prices but that doesn’t happen very often.
Couponing can be a valuable tool for cutting grocery costs and I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. Just be a savvy shopper.