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.