Common Sense

3 Reasons Why Using Coupons Can Hurt You

I know these are hard times, that people are hurting financially and looking for ways to save money, but if consumers follow half the advice they get in the newspapers or in some homemaker magazines they might find themselves actually losing money at the checkout.

Consumers are advised to use coupons as one smart way to stretch a dollar and sometimes that is true. After all when you receive a coupon that lowers the price by seventy-five cents, it does not take a rocket scientist to do the math. You have saved seventy-five cents on that item; multiply that one item six or seven times, four or five times a month and the savings clearly adds up.

But before you start feeling like a supermarket ranger or a shopping warrior, ask yourself the big question: Is this item something I really need?

1. Do not use coupons to buy things you do not need.

I have a dear and close friend I will call Annie who has lined the walls of the second floor hallway of her house with hundreds of packaged rolls of toilet paper.  When asked, she will tell you proudly that she: had a whole bunch of coupons; that it was a sale she couldn’t pass up and that toilet paper does not spoil. She also says she has plenty of room to store as much toilet paper as she can get her hands on. Her proud hubby tells all his buds what a great shopper his wife is. And she is a great shopper, but she is not a smart consumer.

Using a coupon can drain your wallet if you use coupons only because they are at hand or because they are about to expire and you figure you can’t let a good deal slip by. If you don’t need the item, you have thrown away money.

My friend Annie does not and will never need hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. The money she spent could have gone into something else she needs like a new pair of sneaks for her son. By the way, she also has one side of the pantry filled with cans of tuna. What are the odds her family can eat its way through all those cans of tuna before they reach their expiration date?

Using coupons also costs consumers money when the items are only for the more expensive national brands. Sure, we all have our favorite brands and will spend hard-earned money on the best for our families. And we are loyal to those favorite brands, too. But have you tried store brands? I have and I will tell you that some, not all, but some items with a store brand label are as good if not better than the national brand. Don’t disagree until you try them. Now, compare the costs and then compare the costs using a coupon for the national brand. Aha!

2. The national brand is usually more expensive than the store brand even with a coupon!

Do the math. Multiply those savings once or twice a week four or five times a month. Now you have earned the title of Supermarket Warrior. Wear the title proudly!

3. Coupons are usually only available for highly processed foods.

Health magazines, doctors and dietitians recommend eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, but I have never found coupons for these healthier foods. So, when the cashier asks if I have any coupons I usually reply I wish I did. I really would love finding coupons for items I need at a price lower than store brands. Now, that would make cents to me!

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8 thoughts on “Common Sense

  1. Now that I use my Kroger card faithfully, they send me coupons by mail on things I purchase most. I often get a coupon for “Save 1 dollar when you buy 3 dollars of fruit” or the same for produce. It is very nice!

  2. I think they have you tagged as a sharp consumer and want to keep you. Now, here is the question: I use Kroger’s card faithfully and I get no coupons in the mail like you do. What gives?

  3. I don’t know how you get on their coupon “list” but I get them too and sometimes they are for free items. It is great!

  4. Now, I am feeling ignored and/or taken for granted. I usually buy lots of produce, but the only store coupons I get are for processed foods, which I never eat. Maybe, they feel they have me hooked and don’t need to win me over? I think I should march up to customer service and ask to be put on the same list you ladies are on. I’ll let you know what they tell me. With my luck, I’ll probably get nothing but spam and I don’t mean the canned variety.

  5. I get the Kroger coupons in the mail, too. They seem to be related to items I already purchase at Kroger’s. I just wish I could remember to use them. These coupons arrive sporadically, perhaps 4 times a year.

    When my children were small and I was a stay-at-home Mom, I clipped coupons and had them organized in envelopes in a child’s shoebox. Coupons with no expiration date were filed by category. Coupons that expired were filed by the expiration month.

    I wasn’t one of the supershoppers who buys a cartful of groceries for $2.37, but I did enjoy saving a few cents here and there. I limited myself to products I already used and occasionally new products, that way, if I didn’t like it, at least I hadn’t paid full price!

    I’ve also found that many store brands work fine. While I’m thinking of it, though, occasionally cleaning products at the extra deeply discounted stores are diluted or aren’t exactly what you might expect.

    A bottle of blue window cleaner looked like Windex, but when I used it, it smelled 100% like ammonia and left a soapy residue on the windows. Another time, I bought a bottle of bleach, but found myself scrubbing more than I should have and the grungies weren’t disappearing from the grout around the bathtub. I bought a bottle of Clorox and it worked fine. So, off-brand buyers, beware!

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