Coupons, used wisely, offer amazing savings—a great way to make things work when money is tight without sacrificing all the things we love to have, a great way to squeeze a movie night out of an already well-optimized budget. But that’s only when you use them right. Coupons aren’t always your friend, so make sure you remember these five coupon tips the next time you’re clipping or printing, lest you fall for the same coupon mistakes so many others have before:
Buying things you don’t need.
This is one of the most repeated coupon tips, for good reason. Just because you can get something cheaper doesn’t mean it’s worth spending money on. Far too many budget conscious people end up with pantries and storage rooms full of ‘bargains’ not at all worth the expenditure. That’s not to say that you should give up on a nice little extra courtesy of a coupon here and there—just make sure the coupon makes enough difference.
Falling for fine print traps.
Not all coupons are created equal. Many hide traps in the fine print, from minimum purchases to overly-specific type or size requirements. Make sure the coupon you’re looking at really does what you think it does, or you might end up at the register with a nasty surprise to deal with.
Going premium unnecessarily.
So you have a coupon for a better brand than you usually buy, but that doesn’t necessarily make it worth the purchase. If you’re still spending more than you would on your usual brand, you need to seriously consider whether that’s a worthwhile value or a trap.
Excessive bulk purchases.
Your coupon gives you a great deal, if you buy a LOT of this product. You don’t need that much, but you’ll probably use it eventually, you think. But is it worth it, if it means cutting elsewhere in your budget? Maybe, maybe not. And you might be surprised by how fast you go through certain items, or how sick you get of them when you have a ton around.
Undervaluing your time.
The biggest coupon trap of all time: spending too much time on them. It’s good to look for bargains, but remember: time is money. Don’t waste too much of it trying to save another 25 cents here or there.