Don’t get me wrong, coupons save you money. I routinely save 10% off my order with manufacturer coupons alone, clipped from the newspaper each week or printed out from websites. And it’s especially great if your store doubles or triples them, for extra savings.
Some people can do amazing things with couponing, like getting $100 worth of groceries for $20. They live for clipping coupons, comparing deals at different stores, and combining offers so that they wind up getting some items for pennies, or even for free.
While I don’t mind getting toothpaste for 25 cents or shampoo for nothing, I don’t always need a free scent warmer or a million spray air freshener cans on buy-one-get-one deals. I can only use so much stuff, and half the time, the scents are awful.
Here’s the big question: Do coupons make some people spend more than they normally would, just to get a “deal”? Sure, that’s the intent of coupons — to make you become loyal to their brand, no matter the price, or to just get you into the store. My local ShopRite does this with circulars that offer a coupon for $5 off a $50 order. Sounds good, right? But what if you only planned to spend $30? They’re counting on folks spending $50 so they can use the coupon to get a “deal.”
Same goes for the “Spend $300 and get a free turkey or ham” promotions. “Oooh, a free turkey!” But don’t spend $300 on groceries just for the freebie. You might save more money by just shopping as you would, spend $200 on groceries during those few weeks, and then buy the darned turkey yourself for $15. That’s $85 you kept in your wallet.
I only use coupons for the products I actually buy, and I’ll buy a different brand of a certain product if it’s a better deal and the same quality. And sure, when a new product is offered, sometimes the initial coupons are enticing enough for me to try the new, free roll of Marcal Small Steps paper towels, or a new cereal. But I won’t buy things just because there’s a coupon for it. We avoid most prepackaged food like macaroni and cheese or Hot Pockets, so that eliminates a lot of coupons for us. But I’d rather have the peace of mind that we’re eating (relatively) healthily.
Do you get conned by coupons? Could they be enticing you to spend more than you normally would?