Repost: How to Use a Coupon

You see a coupon in the newspaper for a clothing store you sometimes frequent. “10% Off!” it screams, “Hurry, Expires Soon!” Naturally you don’t want to miss out on this enticing offer, so you clip the coupon and grab your car keys. After all, it’s 10% off!

Congratulations … you’re a marketing professional’s dream.

Coupons can be great and can save you a great deal of money if you use them wisely. If you shop because you have a coupon instead of shopping with a coupon for something you’re already going to buy , you’re actually losing money. The 10% you saved on your purchase isn’t so impressive when you consider you could have saved 100% by not being compelled to go shopping in the first place.

How to Use a Coupon

Coupons are best when they are used for things you already plan on buying. Great coupons include:

1. Percentage-off coupons for clothing stores you already frequent on a recurring basis.
2. Two-for-one meal deals for restaurants you love.
3. Grocery coupons for brands you normally purchase without a coupon.
4. Large discounts on airfare, car rentals, and other potentially hefty expenses.
5. Coupons for free shipping from online merchants you commonly buy from.

Coupons don’t make financial sense when:

1. The coupon compels you to buy something that you wouldn’t normally buy anyhow.
2. The coupon is for such a small discount that it isn’t worth your time. For example: Driving all the way across town to get free donuts.
3. The coupon is for a brand name product which still costs more than a generic brand, even with the discount.
4. The coupon is a teaser which will ultimately make you spend more. For example: A free drink with entree purchase at a really expensive restaurant.

There is so much more to being on a budget and saving money than simply clipping some coupons and heading out the door to do some shopping. You need to look at the bigger picture and make sure that the discount you get is actually something that is saving you money instead of being something that winds up taking even more money out of your pocket.

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  1. daveusa says

    I agree – use what you need when you need it. Impulse buying or getting something I don’t need is usually a waste of time and money, but it can be fun too!

    Because so many people are interested in saving a few dollars these days I started a list of coupon sites at <a href = “”&gt; </a> . I have saved money and the extra $10.00 I save a week can go to gas or whatever I need. I have listed coupons for savings of $1.00 on cleaning supplies and even milk! I know this can help out a more than just few people check it out – <a href = “”&gt; </a>!

  2. BadCreditGirl says

    Hi Girl! I just discover the Blog and I loved it!! Just joined your Facebook group and subscribe to your RSS Feed… Look forward to read more!
    XOXO – Niki

  3. Heather:D says

    First- thanks for bringing up this issue.  I’ve seen people come up with some funny justifications for doing what they want; “I’ll burn off the calories by chewing the brownie slowly”. It never hurts to be reminded of how tempting those little treats can become.
    Secondly- please note the other hidden expenses, like your credit info. If you have to mail away for something or sign up for an instore card… that 10% might not be a good deal. It could cost credit points or expose you to I.D. theft. How much do you value your info. & privacy vs. a “bargain” price?
    Finally- it may be worth it to select a few stores that you regularly shop.  If that were the case, I’d wait to sign up for the card etc. & use it with a big purchase during an existing sale.  Great use of holiday sales + gift cards.  Just remember to keep an eye on your statements! 
    P.S. Always save your calories for the good chocolate, you deserve it :}

  4. says

    These are really great tips! I try not to buy things just because I have a coupon, but the temptation is there. Gap, Old Navy and New York & Company are constantly bombarding my mailbox with coupons, and it’s so hard not to just pop in those stores to see what’s new.

  5. M.E.S. Atik says

    I agree 100%. If you were going to buy something anyhow, then using the coupon might be worth it. But I do give myself some personal credit for passing up on certain coupons for stores I like because there wasn’t anything I needed or wanted at that time. I’m not going to waste my money on something I don’t need or want just for the sake of using a coupon.

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