We want you to save so much money that you have a nice "rainy day" fund and all the little extras you dream of enjoying. Building that fund may be difficult if you go for every coupon deal out there, though. These tips can help you put couponing in its proper place—to save you money that you can then put to good use where you need it the most.

1. Think of coupons like you think of cash, and ask yourself if a product is essential.

Using a coupon isn’t the same as abstaining from purchasing the item, so there’s an "opportunity cost" for every coupon you redeem. Unless it’s a freebie or moneymaker, you should really think about whether to spend money on a deal. Ask yourself these questions:

  • "Is it essential?"
  • "Is the quantity right?" (As in, where will I store the excess?)
  • "Do I really want to spend my money on this?"
  • "If I don't buy this item, what would I use the saved funds for?" (Saving, another item, etc.)

2. Don't impulse coupon shop—especially for products your family doesn’t need.

There are apps today that will send you coupons directly to your phone as you shop. Some stores even have high-value coupons right on the shelves next to a product. It’s super convenient, but what if you see a coupon for candy and your doctor just said “less sugar?” In many cases, coupons are no friend to your health, your family's health, or your personal finances.

Before you even leave your house for your weekly grocery shopping, pick out one "treat" coupon (for an item that’s neither particularly healthy nor essential) and spend only that coupon—one per visit.

3. Align couponing with your highest values and only buy products you believe in.

It can be easy to forget all about your resolution to buy organic produce for your family when you’re staring a good-deal coupon in the face.

Think of every coupon you redeem like a vote for that product—every time you redeem a coupon, you’re telling the manufacturer you want more. But if you don't believe in what the company stands for, or you question the product's ingredients or preparation process, then why would you want to vote for it?

4. Be choosy, and use your coupon savings to support your dreams.

As you begin to be more mindful when it comes to picking and choosing the coupons you’ll redeem, have an idea of what you would prefer to spend those unused funds on. Set up a little savings account that’s linked to your checking account, and each time you come home without redeeming those coupons, transfer the “saved" funds into savings. It can be so fun to watch the balance grow that you actually look forward to your weekly coupon review!