8 Common Coupon Mistakes to Avoid

8 Common Coupon Mistakes to Avoid

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

photo credit: MissMessie

One of the simplest ways to save money is to use coupons for your groceries and household purchases.

But if you make these common coupon mistakes, they could end up costing you time and money when you shop:

Not organizing coupons.

A fistful of coupons stuffed into a side pocket of your purse, won’t help you save much money.  Find a coupon system that works for you.  It could be a binder, a coupon organizer, a recipe box, or envelopes.  Take the time to organize your coupons in a way that makes sense to you, and remember to purge your expired coupons from your collection periodically.  Plan your shopping list before you head to the stores, and pair your list with the coupons you’ll use on your trip.  An organized shopper saves money in the store.

Forgetting your coupons at home.

One of life’s biggest annoyances is taking the time to plan out a shopping trip with coupons, only to forget those coupons at home.  I always make sure my coupon organizer stays with my purse.  Then I grab both every single time I head out the door (even if I’m going out on a date with my husband).  Once you get in the habit of always having taking your coupons with you, you won’t forget them.  Another idea is to just leave your coupon organizer in the car.  You can add coupons and remove the expired coupons while you’re waiting to pick up your kids from school or while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Using coupons for things you don’t need.

Don’t use a coupon just to use a coupon.  Savvy shoppers use coupons to save on the things they know they will use. If you have plenty of toothpaste in your stockpile, don’t feel like you have to use that toothpaste coupon before it expires.  Another deal and another coupon will always appear before you need to buy more.  You should have an ample stockpile of the foods and products your family normally consumes.  But you don’t need to become a hoarder.

Forgetting to check for sales and store coupons.

Before you head to the stores, be sure to look at the sales fliers.  You may discover that you have coupons that match up quite nicely with the sales.  And look for store coupons, too!  Those store coupons can be paired with manufacturer coupons to save you even more.

Not understanding store coupon polices.

Get to know your favorite stores’ coupon policies.  Some coupons post them on their websites, some post them in the store, and the rest, you can usually find doing a Google search.  Know what coupons they will (and won’t) accept to save time and heartache in the checkout.

Trying to be an extreme couponer.

While it is possible to get a giant cartload of groceries for just pennies using coupons, it’s not that common.  And trying to do that with every single shopping trip is mentally exhausting and amazingly time consuming.  Shows like “Extreme Couponing” on TLC don’t depict the realities; it can take hours to plan shopping trips like that. You may not have the right coupons or enough coupons; your store may not have the items in stock, or your stores may limit how many coupons you can use in a transaction.  No one needs 70 containers of mustard.  No one needs to clear a store shelf of tuna.  Shop intentionally.

Abusing coupons.

Avoid fraudulent use of coupons and poor coupon etiquette.  Some top offenses:  photocopying printable coupons, trying to pass off expired coupons, trying to use coupons for a product other than what is printed on the coupon, stealing all of the coupons attached to products in the store.   When you abuse coupons, it costs the stores and the manufacturers, which will eventually mean that it will cost you more money.  Learn to use coupons the right way, and you’ll find plenty of savings.

Not using coupons at all.

The biggest mistake I see people make is not using coupons at all.  With just a little bit of effort,  you can easily save 30 to 50% on your grocery and household item purchases.  That’s money that you can spend on other things – like paying down debt, saving for a vacation, or whatever your dreams might hold.

What coupon mistakes have you made, or have seen others make?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas. She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 6-year-old and twin 4-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.

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