1. Think of coupons like you think of cash
In other words, it still costs money to save when you use coupons. Using a coupon isn’t the same as abstaining from purchasing the item, so there’s an "opportunity cost" for every coupon you redeem. You could have used what you just spent on that coupon item for something else or tucked it away in savings.
Tips: Before choosing the coupons you’ll redeem, ask yourself these questions:
- "Is it essential?"
- "Do I need it today?" (as opposed to next week or next year)
- "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
Today, technology is so, well, high-tech that you can download apps that will sense what aisle you’re on in the grocery store and send coupons for those products right to your phone. In a word—WOW. But what if you’re on the candy aisle and your doctor just said "less sugar?" What if you find yourself salivating over a large cheesy pizza, forgetting all about that tofu burger coupon you had tucked away? In these two cases (and many others), coupons are no friend to your health, your family's health, or your personal finances.
Tips: Just say no to coupon apps! Or, 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 your couponing with your highest values
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. But when all is said and done, couponing is not just about saving money. It’s about making life better for you and those you love.
Tips: 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 of that same product. 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. Say no to coupon-based peer pressure
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), when prices for unhealthy snack items decrease, consumption of those same snack products increases. But ongoing studies into America's growing "obesity epidemic" has now proven that this inverse correlation between junk food pricing and our interest in consuming these products isn’t good for our heart, our teeth, our liver, our mental function, our mood or our families.
Tips: Here, if you can think of those tempting no-no coupons as persuasive (but mean-spirited) neighborhood bullies, you’ll have more willpower to pop them into the recycle bin instead of into your couponing folder!
5. Be choosy and spend your couponing savings to support your dreams
If you’re not redeeming certain coupons that no longer make good sense to you, then those unused funds remain in your wallet and are still free for other uses. This is good news—for your finances, your family, your health and your future!
Tips: As you begin to exert more mindfulness when it comes to picking and choosing the coupons you’ll redeem, have an idea about 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 your savings account. It can be so fun to watch the balance grow that you actually look forward to your weekly coupon review!