Coupons: Friend or Foe?

Recently I started using online coupons from my preferred grocery store’s web site. At first I was amazed at the possible savings. To save money, I was only going to buy items that were on sale or that I had a coupon for. I clipped all of the coupons I could and went out for my first shopping trip. Like a giant Easter egg hunt, I scoured the store to find my deals. After an extended visit, I headed to the checkout line and was impressed when the tally came in. I knocked over $50 off of my $125 grocery bill.

Feeling elated, I headed home and began to put my purchases away. However, I quickly found that my shopping strategy didn’t pay off. I noticed I had almost nothing that I would have normally bought and a lot of things that didn’t go with anything else. I had peanut butter but no jelly, hamburgers but no buns, two bags tortilla chips but no dip, cereal but no milk and the list goes on. In addition, thanks to the buy one get one half off or buy two save $1.00 coupons, I now have four expired yogurts, a loaf and a half of expired bread, a bag of wilted salad mix, and a ton of macaroni and cheese that I will never eat. When I factor in the cost of gas to return to the store to get the things I needed to prepare many of the items I purchased and the cost of everything that spoiled, I ended up spending much more for a lot of stuff I didn’t need.

Having learned my lesson, I returned to the store the following week, but I was much more selective. I only used coupons for items that I could plan a meal with, or for things I knew I would use. I still saved $14. I may not have had as much fun searching for deals, but I ended up spending under $45 for the entire week and I went home with products that went together and I could use.

Take advantage of coupons and sales when you can, but don’t buy things just because you have a coupon or they are on sale.

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