Coupons can be a wonderful way to reduce your grocery bill. The cost of food can be high these days, and cents-off coupons make sense. Just make sure that when you use coupons, you use them carefully. Otherwise, you may actually see your grocery bill balloon to new heights.
How can coupons raise your grocery bill? The basic answer is that coupons are actually calculated to get you to spend money by enticing you to purchase a product. They work really well at doing this, which is why manufacturers continue to offer them. If you aren’t careful, you could get caught up in the excitement of using coupons and wind up spending more overall to get the perceived coupon savings.
The bulk of manufacturer coupons tend to be for processed items. The problem with processed items, other than nutrition in many cases, is the fact that they tend to be more expensive. The more work that goes into a product, the more a manufacturer has to recoup in the price. So using a coupon on a kit for macaroni salad will make that kit cost less than usual, but you will probably still wind up paying more than if you simply made the macaroni salad yourself from basic ingredients.
Another reason that food manufacturers issue coupons is to get you to try a new product. If you are careful, you can often get that product for free. One famous new product that was heavily marketed with “free” coupons was a name brand cooking cream, a product type that had not been available before. You try the product and like the product, and then when it is for sale at full price with no coupons you buy it anyway. This scenario is what the manufacturers hope for anyway; the product will become part of your regular grocery list, even when there are no coupons serving as incentives.
Bypassing cheaper product alternatives is another way that coupons can inflate your grocery costs. With brand-name coupon in hand, you may miss the better deal on a generic product or an off-brand.
One way coupons can raise your grocery bill is when you over buy. If you have five coupons and a great deal, why not buy five products? The problem is that the products may never get used. These days, many coupons require you to buy at least two or three of an item. Multiple that by the number of coupons that may be available, and you are suddenly hoarding gobs of mustard when you don’t even like the stuff very much.
Coupons can also raise your grocery bill when you get caught up in acquiring the coupons for grocery deals. Many people purchase coupons (or the service of clipping them) online. In an auction setting, a bidding war may result in the coupons costing more than their face values! Even when the coupons are purchased for a reasonable price, many buyers don’t calculate the total cost, such as with the inclusion of shipping and handling fees.
Use your coupons wisely, and they will help you to spend less not more.