4 Tips for Avoiding Extra Spending Just Because You Have a Coupon

by Michelle · 11 comments

Coupons, coupons, coupons. Gotta love those savings… right?

It’s a safe bet that most of us who read this blog love coupons. We routinely check our newspapers for special offers, and we refuse to make purchases without searching for discounts because we are very careful with our personal finance. I like coupons and saving as much as the next guy, but lately I have been feeling the effects of coupon invasion.

It’s actually a pretty ingenious move on the part of the retailers: give the customer a coupon at checkout for their next purchase and you can almost guarantee that they’ll be back. Even better, ask for their email and mailing addresses and send them MORE coupons. With so many excuses to return to the store, the casual visitor becomes a regular customer in no time.

The problem is, we don’t always need to spend. However, we tend to feel great if we think we are saving, and we tend to feel terrible if we think we are wasting, which is precisely why we find it hard to let a bonus coupon go unused, no matter how little intention we had of buying anything in the first place.

Can you tell I’m trying to make myself feel better by using the collective “we” instead of admitting that this is an “I-me-mine” problem? But I’m sure there must be others out there who have fallen into the cycle of coupons and found themselves returning to the store three weeks later to buy a second sweater just because they could save 30% on it. So, I offer the following tips for avoiding extra spending when you really don’t need anything else:

  1. Throw the coupon away.
  2. If throwing it away is too hard because you can’t stomach the idea of throwing away savings, give the coupon to a friend (but only if your friend really needs it, of course!).
  3. If you know that you’ll be too tempted by the coupons that arrive in your e-mail or mailbox, don’t give the store your contact information. You’ll still be able to seek out coupons if you really want them, and you might like having less junk mail.
  4. Remember your budget. In the three weeks between now and the time you can use the second coupon, you’ll have plenty of time to study your budget and determine whether or not this is a purchase that you really need to make.

I’m confident that all of us (myself included) will do a great job of avoiding overspending due to extra coupons as long as we stop and think about what we are doing. If after some consideration and we can still use that bonus coupon, we can truly jump for joy. Yay for frugality!

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • bluesauger says:

    I often don’t want to take the time to actually sift through coupons and find the useful ones. Instead, they usually accumulate and then, once the number of cuopons lying around the home is bordering on insanity, I simply throw them all away. Something else to improve on, …

  • William Maxwell says:

    When I have coupons–and I use them copiously–which are about to expire or which are for items I reject, perhaps because of ingredients or price, I frequently slip them, one or several, underneath or between the items the coupons discount. If someone else finds them useful–Wheee….

    Silver Bill, Missouri

  • Free Arcade Games says:

    I tend to keep coupons, but sadly I never use it or they expire when I need them 🙁


  • Andrew @ Financial Services says:

    Isn’t that the purpose of coupons. It’s a way to make people buy stuff. Of course coupons are not evil, you just have to use them when you really intend to spend fast cash stuff you are really intent on buying. But I think it’s better to give it away that to throw it away though.

  • Mike says:

    My saying is this, “How are saving me money by spending money?” But that being said, my wife and I are as frugal as they get and do use coupons.
    We have noticed in our hometown, that the coupons coincide with the sales that week in the store. So it makes it a lot easier to use them because you are saving even more money.

  • Dale Harries says:

    Coupons work when you need them but how often does it really happen? That problem is obvious when you see all the people on the forums asking for a voucher code or something for specific things.

  • Ken says:

    My wife is bad about getting it because it has a coupon and a good deal. It’s bad because some of the stuff we will not consume because we don’t like that item. She’s got to focus on only buying what we will eat or use in the next 30 days. Looks like we will be talking about this soon.

    • James says:

      Looks like my wife isn’t the only one. She’s gotten better as time went on though. I guess having limited space and all those junk piling up helps.

      Good luck in your convo with your wife.

  • marci says:

    Rarely do I use a coupon…. because coupons are RARELY for basics,
    and that’s about all I buy 🙂

    I do check the weekly newspaper flyers tho – and the grocery store coupons for eggs and basic stuff will get used – sometimes.

  • MoneyNing says:

    I usually do a quick pass whenever I receive the coupons to figure out which ones I need and which ones I won’t. The ones I don’t need go straight to the garbage can. Actually, I throw them out BEFORE they even get into the house. 🙂

  • Charles says:

    So true. I find it hard to throw the coupon away though, so I usually just file them and see if I can use them later.

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