Couponing is a great way to save money - but it can also cost you some money.
We like to mention how much we're "saving" by using coupons, but did you ever think about how much it could be costing you? Here is a list of some of the ways you might end up spending money when you use coupons, though not everyone will do all of these.
- Purchasing extra newspapers for coupon inserts
- Purchasing coupons directly through eBay or a coupon clipping service
- Postage to trade coupons with others
- Subscription to magazines that contain coupons
- Gas/car wear and tear to pick up coupons from others who collect them for you.
- Costs of a coupon binder or filing system
- Costs of sports card pages to hold the coupons in the binder
- Extra computers to use to print multiple online coupons
- Paper and ink to print coupons from the computer
- Gas/car wear and tear to drive to stores you might not normally go to
- Gas/care wear and tear to drive to multiple store locations
- Buying too many of an item you end up not liking
- Not planning correctly and spending more than you expected
- Extra shelving units or other storage bins to hold stockpiled items
- Stockpiled product loss due to passing expiration dates
- Stockpiled product loss due to infestations, leakage, or other accidents
Here are a few tips to cut down these costs:
- Try to find a free source of coupons - in my area, coupon inserts are included (a week late) in a local free newspaper. I pick these up from newsstands that I pass on errands that I do each week.
- Check the list of upcoming Sunday coupons; if you're not too interested in the products, skip buying newspapers that week.
- See if you can find a cheaper source of newspapers, like the dollar store, or perhaps receiving more than one Sunday paper directly from your newspaper carrier.
- If you get a magazine subscription for the coupons, see if you can get a subscription as part of a fundraiser from a child, neighbor, or friend. You'd probably be buying something anyway to help the fundraiser, so why not get something you can use?
- Print coupons on the back of previously-used paper. Print in black and white and on the lightest setting available.
- Don't make multiple trips to stores (yes, I know I've broken this one). Instead, get rainchecks for the items you need.
- Combine trips as much as possible.
- Really think about which stores you save the most at, and focus on those stores. I don't get so many great deals at Target and Walmart, so generally I skip those stores unless there's an amazing bargain there, like the Target frozen food deal in Feburary.
- Only stockpile as much as you have room to store. (See my not-so-extreme stockpile.)
- If there's a great deal on an item, but you've never tried it before, don't buy a ton of it! Just buy one (or two, if it's a BOGO sale) and give it a try. If everyone likes it, then stock up the next time it's on sale. If not, you saved yourself some money.
- Keep track of expiration dates and check your stockpile regularly for signs of damage.