I am a firm believer in the money saving power of coupons. In fact, couponing has allowed my wife and I to save over 50% on our grocery budget. But that doesn’t mean that coupons don’t have a dark side. There are times when couponing can actually lure you into spending more than you otherwise would.
There are three common reasons coupons have made me overspend in the past:
- I bought too much of an item and it expired before I could use it.
- I’ve used coupons for items/services that I purchased purely because I had a coupon.
- I’ve paid more for an item because I waited for a coupon.
I have mentioned before that I have a stockpile and it has cut my grocery budget by more than half. However, sometimes combining coupons and stockpiling can lead to hoarding in the name of saving.
There is a fine line between a well stocked stockpile and a hoard. The difference between the two isn’t that one is organized and the other isn’t. A stockpile is a cache of items that you purchase with the intent of using in the near future, while a hoard is a stash that you intend on using but never do.
It’s also important to remember that a stockpile requires space. While it may seem prudent to buy three years’ worth of toilet paper because it costs next to nothing, you’re going to have to store it somewhere. Whether it’s a spare closet or spare bedroom, the cost of having all of that toilet paper will be the loss of that space.
Stockpiling also requires a good rotation system. Food and personal hygiene products have expiration dates. While some may think that expiration dates on these products is sometimes a guideline, the truth is that chemicals can loose their effectiveness overtime. The cleaning spray that was purchased three years ago may not have the same disinfecting strength that it should. Your toothpaste may not remove plaque quite as well. And the stuffing that you purchased on sale two Thanksgivings ago may have gone bad.
I Couldn’t Let a Great Coupon go to Waste
Have you ever thought that you had to buy an item because a coupon was about to expire? I know that I have. When I find myself saying this it’s usually for a restaurant or some form of entertainment, like the movies. If you’re going to go out to eat and have a coupon for that particular restaurant then that can be a great way to save a little extra money. However, going out just because you have a coupon can be detrimental to your budget.
Whenever you find yourself using a coupon because it’s about to expire ask yourself, “Am I buying this item or service because of the coupon? Or would I have went anyways.” If you’re going just because of the coupon then you might want to step back and rethink the situation. However, if you were going to go anyways but just realized the coupon was about to expire, then by all means go for it.
I Waited. I Overpaid.
This is probably my biggest couponing sin. I know that I’m running low on an item, like toilet paper. However, instead of purchasing the item when it’s at a decent price I end up waiting because maybe next week the price will go lower. The problem is that the price doesn’t go any lower so I’m stuck overpaying for toilet paper. If I had just bought the item at the “decent” price, I would have ended up saving more money than waiting and paying more.
Don’t get me wrong. Coupons can save you a lot of money if you’re smart about it. By taking the time to think through your coupon purchases you can avoid being lured into overspending by coupons.
Do you coupon? How do you prevent them from making you overspend? What is your worst couponing mistake?
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