Coupon 101: Top Couponing Mistakes

If you are a newbie to couponing, it is easy to go overboard once the excitement of all that free and nearly-free stuff sets in.

Here are some of the top mistakes many people make (and I made some of them myself!) when they start using coupons:

Sacrificing your family’s health for the sake of the deal: The truth is, sometimes the best deals are for foods that can best be called “junk food”. Your family eating habits should never be compromised just because you can get a good deal. Yes, grapes are more expensive than fruit snacks. That doesn’t mean that you should stop buying grapes and start handing out only fruit snacks all the time. The savings on the fruit snacks is not worth forgoing the benefits of grapes.  Balance is the key!

Building too big of a stockpile: I know people who literally have 50 tubes of toothpaste. Do you know what the problem is? Toothpaste has an expiration date! Unless they are running a small dental office (or are the Duggars), there is no way that they can use that much toothpaste before it expires, especially when they continue to add to the stockpile each week/month. Extreme couponing is just that – extreme and there is no reason to go nuts each week. Certain things can always be found for free or nearly free almost every week, especially if you have a CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens near you.

Buying things that your family normally doesn’t need or like just because it is a “good deal”: If your family doesn’t normally eat/like Hamburger Helper (for example), it doesn’t matter how good of a deal you can get on it. Unless you are planning on donating that Hamburger Helper and/or they are part of a moneymaker Catalina deal, spending even one penny on it is wasting money.

Letting good coupons expire: the two main reasons this happens? Not being organized or waiting too long for a better deal. I am a strong advocate of the coupon binder because it allows you to clearly see the expiration dates of all of your coupons. As for the waiting too long? Sure – it’s great when you can combine, for example, a coupon for a free item with a BOGO sale to get both for free. But you can’t count on that BOGO sale and do you know what they call an expired coupon for a free item? Recycling!

Letting couponing take over your life: As far as I am concerned, there is no amount of savings that is worthy of neglecting your family. As you get better, you get quicker, but in the meantime, don’t try to figure out the deals yourself. That’s where this site comes in. Make sure you keep checking the drug store deals and grocery store deals that I have posted to make sure you haven’t missed anything!

Couponing and saving money should be a way of life…it should not BECOME your life.

What are some mistakes that you have made, or lessons you have learned?

Comments

  1. says

    LOL! I love this article! It could definitely take over your life, but that is why I started filing my whole inserts instead! :) I guess everyone has their system! I do like the coupon binder for the internet coupons.

  2. Deb says

    I was guilty of neglecting my family in the beginning. It was soo overwhelming trying to get every deal, til I realized I was slowly losing my mind. Lol So I buckled down and kept to your site and one other. I also got a grip on what my family really needed and what I would just eventually give away. Thanks to your site and my couponing queen friend Kelly I have cut down on my stress!

  3. Sara S says

    I am also a “whole insert” filer. I do spend a little time once a week to input my coupons into my own spreadsheet. This is because the coupons that I get range DRASTICALLY compared to what others get and it irks me when a database says I have a coupon in XX insert, and I don’t! The initial setting up of the spreadsheet was tedious but now it is easy to maintain and I KNOW that it is accurate. Plus, I can add coupons that I get in the mail or peelies to my spreadsheet–something that probably won’t show up on a searchable database.

  4. Becca the Birth Doula says

    I would like to add two to your list:

    COUPONS VS. BUYING STORE OR OTHER BRANDS:
    One of the biggest mistakes I have seen people make is getting all excited about getting a good deal on something when purchasing the store brand of the same item (or simply another brand) would have been cheaper than the coupon. For example: As much as I love the Crescent Rolls that are name brands, I seriously can’t taste the difference between them and the store brand. Even with coupons (which are almost ALWAYS available) for the name brand, the store brand is cheaper. If you are picky about the brand then I can understand making the purchase with the coupons, but if not…was it really a “savings?”

    IGNORING COMPARISON SHOPPING BETWEEN STORES:
    In this part of Pennsylvania (where I live) we have Giant Eagle and Shop n’ Save. As much as I hate going grocery shopping “twice,” I notice that I can save a considerable amount just by shopping the sales at each store for items where I may not have a coupon. It is rare to find coupons on things like produce, meat, bread, and other staples. So if Shop n’ Save has a special on whole pork loins for $13.00 vs. buying pre-cut packaged pork at Giant Eagle for MUCH MORE, I can save $8-$10 JUST ON THAT ITEM!

    Happy deal hunting!

  5. says

    I have a problem of actually making it to the drop off point for donations….so we tend to have boxes and bags stashed all over the house waiting to be donated. from now on, when I see a deal that’s too good to pass up, I buy it and drop it in the donation box at the front of Kroger. That way I don’t let a good coupon go to waste and the product doesn’t take up precious room in my house or cause me to make an extra trip to donate it.

  6. Melissa says

    Going along with the point of not letting good coupons expire, don’t forget that military members can use expired coupons at the PX up until 2 months after the expiration date. There are ways that you can find a military base to “adopt.” I have family in the military, so I just send my expireds (and current coupons that I know I won’t use) to them.

  7. says

    Thanks for the great post Mindi! I’ve also saved a ton of time and regained my sanity by going the “file my inserts” route, but I also do keep a mini stash of coupons in my car with the coupons I’m most likely to use. I do think having a “sane stockpile” of 6mo to a year’s worth of some things like detergent, paper goods and some canned goods and pasta, has eased the urge to “get every deal”. I know that if I didn’t get that super deal this week, my stockpile will last me until the next “super” deal comes along!

  8. Sarah H says

    I don’t necessarily agree with the don’t let coupons expire tip. If it’s a coupon for something that you need, and if it expires, you will have to buy it without a coupon, then I say go ahead and make sure to use it before it expires. But if it is for something that regularly has coupons, and you don’t need it right away, you are better off waiting and seeing if you can combine it with a sale then next time you get a coupon.

    • Mindi Cherry says

      Sarah –

      That is a good point.

      When I wrote that, I was thinking about the **good** coupons (like when Gain comes out with the $3 coupon, when they normally only have $1 coupons). There are some products for which there are ALWAYS coupons, but they don’t put “good ones” very often. It was THOSE coupons of which I was thinking.

      - Mindi

  9. Sharon says

    I have recently come across your site and i just LOVE it. What a great article and I made exactly those mistakes and still do!! A reminder I needed. I look forward to following you and gaining insight from you and your readers.

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