Why not coupons?

A website on saving money that is conspicuously free of long lists of coupon offers…Why?

Imagine you are in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. You like breakfast, or at least you know you should start your day with breakfast. You have a coupon for a $1 off of a new brand of Frosted Flakes. So you really think buying Frosted Flakes is better than any other cereal. Well, Kellogg’s has a new product that they want to push to consumers. The coupon is a cheap and effective way to move the product.

Do you:

A. Buy the Frosted Flakes – everyone knows coupons are a good deal and save you money. You were going to buy Frosted Flakes anyway.

B. Don’t buy anything – you can skip breakfast, you’ll be fine.

C. Take a good look at the options and see a box of rolled oats – it’s cheap and will last you a lot longer than the Frosted Flakes – your interest is piqued, you start to forget the coupon. Hmm… rolled oats are really healthy and take only a few minutes to prepare. You start to think about the oatmeal-raisin cookies you could also make. The coupon is forgotten. You buy the rolled oats. The generic brand is less than the Frosted Flakes with the coupon anyways.

If you picked C. – congratulations! You’re on your way to using your problem-solving, money-saving, thrifty skills to change how you think about your consumption habits and what you value and…what the value of money will do for you. Your wallet, waistline and brain will all say “thank you.”

You don’t have to start being a mad coupon clipper, know all sorts of secrets about using coupons and drive all over town to redeem them (while wasting gas and time) to save money. You only need one thing that you were born with – your brain – and like anything else, the more you use it for a certain purpose, the better it gets at the task.

For these reasons, I don’t bother with coupons…okay…I rarely bother with coupons. I learned from the best – my mom, who taught me that coupons are useless. Why? Because coupons, in general, are for pre-packed, name brand goods – or another way to say it – the most expensive, non-thrifty option out there. Remember, coupons are a marketing tool to get you to try new products, become a new customer or win you back after a lapse, buy more of a product than you actually need or up-sell you, get you to switch to the competition, expand market share by snagging your dollars…I could go on with reasons that do not include saving you money.

If I do use a coupon, it’s for something I already have on my list, and I’m not breaking the budget to buy the item or buying something that I wouldn’t normally buy. When you stick to whole foods like vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy, there are usually few advantages to coupons to warrant spending your Sunday looking for deals. And if you buy local, the farm stand around the corner probably doesn’t offer coupons – but might give you some free corn! Coupons may occasionally be a nice way to save money, but if you follow my suggestions, you will rarely need coupons. My suggestions are not a one-time-only deal that you have to keep diligently chasing – they are a way of life practiced on a daily basis that becomes second nature. Good luck!

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