The Power (and Possible Drawbacks) of Coupons

by Matt B

couponAre you a coupon clipper?  Do you search endlessly for the best deal?  Do you combine both of these methods and find sales to use coupons with?

A Powerful Tool-

Coupons are a great tool for saving money.  A tool that is too often ignored.  Groceries and household products account for the majority of coupons available to consumers.  The further we creep into this pesky recession, the more people strive to save.  You can spend as little as you want to, but you will still have to spend.  Coupons have become a part of our everyday lives much more than any other time in my life.  That said, you can use all of the coupons in the world and still end up spending more than you would have without them.

How to Properly Use Coupons-

To get the best value from your coupons, take these pieces of advice: Use coupons for items you usually use. As I said, grocery and household items are the most common coupons available. Try to stray as little from the items you usually use, or get items that are comparable.  These coupons are offered as a way of advertising, meaning that these companies want you to try or switch loyalty to them.  Do not let them reel you in with this offer.  Do not use coupons as an excuse to shop.  If you are going to get that 12 pack of Coke, and you have a $2.00 off coupon, by all means, use it.  If you were in the store to get other things and you stumble across that Coke, notice that you have the coupon, and are persuaded into buying it just to save $2.00, you lose the coupon game.  They got you.  The reason that the coupon was in the flier was to get you to buy it.  If you were already going to buy it (or a similar product) and used the coupon to save, you are playing by the rules and you actually save.  If coupons are getting you to buy things that you had not intended to buy in the first place, you may just be spending more than you would have without knowledge that the coupons ever existed.

Time Exchange for Coupon Clipping-

Are you wasting hours of every week, crawling through advertisements in search of the ultimate deal?  You may just be wasting your time.  If you are spending more than a few minutes a week on coupons, evaluate the time exchange for your efforts.  If you think that you would be doing nothing better, take all the time you want and clip away.  If your house is in shambles, you are ignoring work or the family, it may not be worth your time to concentrate so hard on your saving efforts.  Do not sacrifice income or relationships in exchange for a few dollars of savings.

Reward Programs-

Many stores have reward programs for customers.  Most of these programs come with a card that gets scanned at the register.  Coupons offered by these programs are sometimes generated just for you based on purchase history in conjunction with current deals.  The most well known (and most effective for saving) bonus program is the extracare program offered by CVS.  We have saved hundreds of dollars using extracare coupons and bucks.  (The bucks print out on your receipt with other coupons.)  It seems like they are the first business to get this right on a large scale.  For more on their program, check out Trying out CVS Madness from Wisebread.

Coupons are a great way to save money, and are an underutilized tool in the game of frugality.  Even if you are wary of using coupons, give it a try.  You may find such savings that the coupons become a part of your shopping routine.

Check out these sites for valuable coupons, and enjoy the savings!


Coupon Cabin


Photo Credit: haomingl through Flickr

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