The Biggest Mistake You Make When It Comes to Coupons

published Aug 31, 2021
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Coupons are wild, when you think about them: Each one is basically a piece of paper clutter that makes you want to spend money and that you’re willingly hanging on to.

Yes, coupons offer the promise of saving money, but this is the ploy. The company who issued the coupon isn’t doing you a favor — it knows the promise of saving money will get you to spend money — money you likely wouldn’t have shelled out without the coupon. Plus, getting you into the store usually ensures you’ll make impulse purchases.

You’re a savvy shopper, though. You know the deal: You aren’t going to make a trip to the store just to cash in on the coupon. Instead you keep the coupon around, just in case you’re buying something from that store anyway. Checkmate, coupon!

Credit: igor kisselev/Shutterstock

So you keep the coupon out somewhere where you can see it, maybe tacked to the kitchen fridge with a magnet, or pinned to the bulletin board near your desk. But this “necessary” paper clutter is still clutter. And it attracts more, and pretty soon you’ve got a bunch of paper piles that stress you out and weigh you down until you sort and recycle and get bummed that you missed that discount on some items you actually needed!

How to Outsmart the Coupon

There’s a way to halt this cycle: To have your coupons where you need them when, and only if, you need them. This place is not sitting on the counter or pinned to your bulletin board. Instead, store any coupons you think you might use in your glove box or backpack.

This way, the coupons are available to you when you need them: right on hand when you happen to stop in at the craft store after school, for instance. But they’re out of sight so you aren’t receiving subtle environmental messages that you need to go to the store so you don’t miss out. This saves you from the “spend money to save money” trap and allows you to put this scenario to use only when it actually serves you.

For bonus money-saving, coupon-crushing power, create a list of items you need so you can take advantage of sales when they happen — but only for things you need. For instance, when you need to replenish your kids’ T-shirts, you’ll be able to pounce on that sale the Old Navy coupon tells you about. Set a reminder in your phone a day or two before the coupon expires so you don’t miss it. And once the date passes, empty unused coupons from your glove box or bag. This is how you outsmart coupons so they don’t outsmart you.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: One Piece of Paper Clutter You’re Storing in the Wrong Place