“I don’t want to forget the coupons when we get to the store,” I said to my oldest as I was driving. I had a coupon for $1 off a half-gallon of milk, 50 cents off yogurt, $1 off granola bars, and other miscellaneous coupons for cereal and yogurt drinks. I definitely planned on using the coupons for milk and yogurt, but I was iffy about the cereal coupon. There was another brand that we like better, but the coupon was for $1 off any 2 boxes of that brand of cereal, so it seemed like a good deal.
I wore my son in a carrier and pushed my youngest daughter in the cart while my oldest daughter walked beside me. Our first stop was the milk, then the yogurt, followed by a few other aisles. Then we entered the cereal aisle. I quickly grabbed a box of our favorite cereal – the organic pumpkin flax granola that we ate in our yogurt every morning. Right beside it was the cereal for which I had the coupon for $1 off any two boxes of that brand. That brand of granola cereal tasted okay, it was organic, there were two different flavors to choose from… but would I buy it if I didn’t have a coupon for it? No. Was I willing to buy it just to save money? Probably. But would I really be saving money if I bought two boxes of cereal at $3 a piece just to save $1? Absolutely not! Rather than saving me money, it would actually have cost me $5 more than I would normally have spent. I grabbed a second box of our favorite cereal and continued the next aisle.
I do admit that money wasn’t the determining factor for me not purchasing that brand of cereal. Our preferred brand has only 7 grams of sugar per serving, and the other brand has 15. I’m a health nut, so nutrition was the determining factor for that particular decision that day, but it was a smart decision financially, too.
Coupons can save you a lot of money, but they can also cost you a lot of money, too. Had I not had the coupon, I wouldn’t have even been tempted to buy the other brand of cereal. The coupon made it seem like a good deal, but the truth about a good deal is that it’s not a good deal if it costs you money that you wouldn’t normally spend on something that you wouldn’t normally buy and might not even use.
Coupons are tempting to use. They make you feel good about “saving money”. But do they really save you money, or do they just make you feel like they do? Sometimes they are beneficial. Sometimes they’re not. Use the following 3 simple questions to determine if the coupons you have are really worth using.
1. Is this product something that I need, or even something that I want?
2. Is this a product we will use if I buy it?
3. Is the price of the product minus the price of the coupon less than the price of the off-brand version of the product?
Article by Randi Millward