When you find a coupon, do you know whether it’s actually a good deal? When you go shopping, are you saving as much as you could be? Many shoppers set out to find deals and use coupons but then end up spending much more than they had originally planned. Even expert coupon cutters can get tricked by a flashy offer or cool product. Before you check this season’s sales, follow these three tips to get the most out of your coupons.
Buying Something You Don’t Need
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A deal is only as good as the product that you’re buying. It doesn’t matter whether you find a waffle maker that’s 50 percent off if you never eat waffles and don’t make breakfast. Although you think you’re saving $30 on the appliance, you’re actually spending $30 that you wouldn’t have to begin with. This is one of the biggest dangers of deal hunting: buying something you don’t need or aren’t going to use just because you think it’s a deal.
This is also a problem when buying food. Heads of spinach might be “buy one, get one free,” but are you going to eat it all before it goes bad? If you don’t eat much spinach, you could end up throwing one away (if not both) when the spinach heads rot and might be better off ordering pizza instead.
Going Off Your Shopping List You might enter Walmart with a set list and a stack of coupons that will help you save money, but it’s possible to buy back all that savings if you’re easily distracted. For example, you might pick up a box of cupcakes for a friend’s birthday and then add cookies to the cart for yourself. If you hadn’t planned on buying those cookies, then you’re bound to go over budget for the week. Many retailers count on shoppers going off-list when they have deals. They will heavily discount one item (such as dresses or jeans), knowing that shoppers will buy full-price jewelry or shoes to complete the outfit. To make the most of your coupons, stick to what you’re going to buy.
Failing to Read the Coupons Carefully
If you don’t follow the coupon instructions, then it could be invalid – or you could end up getting a worse deal than you planned. For example, many stores, such as JCPenney, let customers choose between taking $10 off or 20 percent off. Most customers opt for the flat $10 because they think it is more, but that’s actually a worse deal if your purchase is above $50. If you read the coupon and calculate your actual savings, then you can discover what the better deal is and make sure you’re getting the best discount. A smart shopper knows when to walk away from a bad deal. A coupon might seem compelling at first, but it’s possible to actually spend more because of it. By following these smart shopping tips, you should be able to save just as much (if not more) than you planned the next time you’re in the store.