January 12, 2010

The Danger of Shopping With Coupons

There in my Yahoo inbox this morning was my weekly message from Coupons.com, giving me some "piping hot offers."  I've subscribed to Coupons.Com for a long time, and I still get that thrilling thought when one of these e-messages arrives:  THIS may be the week when I'm going to walk away from the grocery having paid diddly for baskets and baskets of basically free food.  (You know, like they do on TV.)

Because coupons are, after all, free money - right? Wrong.

Coupons are free money to me, and to you, only if they allow us to have things that otherwise we'd spend real currency to purchase.  If they replace our dollars, then they act as substitute currency and we're wise to use them.

Coupons are also incentives to try things, particularly new products. 

The big companies that provide these coupons (along with rebates) are trying to build customer awareness as well as their consumer base -- they are for-profit organizations, there is method in their madness.  They aren't offering coupons as some kind of friendly endeavor, just because they like us.  They're using a marketing tactic called a "coupon campaign."

Why should you care?  Because for those of us who love a bargain -- and I admit to this, I ADORE getting a good deal -- coupons are dangerous.  They can be addicting.  Particularly when we're cutting back on bigger items (like shoes, purses, or books), then shopping at the food store can become one of the main places to get the Thrill of the Deal. 

Coupons Can Be Temptations

If coupons are encouraging you to buy something -- no matter how good the offer may be -- that you and your family would otherwise not use, then they're not free money.  They're tempting you to exceed your food budget, and they may well be enticing you to try a product that is not nutritionally healthy or otherwise not beneficial for you and your loved ones. 

And coupon temptation isn't the same for everyone.  One man's meat is another man's poison, as they say. 

For example, in today's message, there's an offer for $4.00 off of a box of Sudafed Triple Action 36 count caplets.  You may like Sudafed, I do not.  Just because this is a good deal doesn't mean that I should buy it. 

Another one from today's coupon list:  55 cents off a box of Trix.  Sure, that helps the family food budget -- and cereal is quick in the morning, kids love it -- but where is the nutritional value of this food item?  You may love Trix, but it's not the best (or the cheapest) breakfast item for you and your family, and this coupon isn't in your best interests.  There's oatmeal.  There's eggs.  You get the idea.

1 comment:

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