7 Ways to Know If Using a Coupon Makes Cents

By: Cheryl Maguire

Hands of mature female consumer holding smartphone with discount coupon

I love saving money. I’m an avid couponer and sale shopper. Even though I’ve saved tons of money using coupons and shopping sales, I’ve also been burned before by making mistakes.

Here are some questions to help you figure out if using a coupon or shopping a sale makes cents (pun intended).

Do you usually purchase the item?

If you purchase the product on a regular basis, then using a coupon or stocking up on a sale item will probably save you money. If you don’t normally purchase the product or you don’t need it, or you don’t like the item (if you are using the coupon to try a new product), you might want to reconsider purchasing the product. Ask yourself:

If I didn’t have the coupon would I purchase this product?

If I don’t like the product can I return it?

Does the product expire?

If you answer no to the first two questions and yes to the last, then you should probably pass on purchasing the item since you will spend money for something you might not use.

The product expiring is something that has cost me money in these sense that I bought a food item and ended up throwing it away because it was expired. Often I will stock up on a sale item only to have too many before I’m able to use it.

Will you complete the required information for the rebate?

There are many different types of rebates. Some rebates require you to mail in the UPC code with a receipt while other rebates you can complete online. Any rebate you request does require you do some “work” to earn it. If you know you will follow through with the paperwork, then a rebate can save you money.  

Will you follow up if you don’t get the rebate?

Rebate checks can sometimes take 12 weeks to arrive. If the check doesn’t arrive, you should contact the company to find out why you haven’t received your check. Often if you follow up, you can still get your rebate. If you don’t think you will keep track of the rebate, there is a chance you will miss out on it. 

Does the coupon require multiple purchases?

Some coupons are a $1 off but you have to purchase 4 items in order to get $1 off. In this case, the $1 value has decreased to 25 cents off per item. If the items are expensive and you don’t need 4, then it is probably not worth it to use a coupon.

Does the coupon require a minimum purchase? 

If you need to spend a minimum amount of money to use a coupon but you don’t need the items, you will end up losing money instead of saving it. This type of coupon can save money at a supermarket or restaurants, etc, if you normally spend the minimum purchase amount.

Does the coupon require a large size?

If you have a coupon which requires you purchase a large item, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Will I use the entire item?

Does the item expire?

Again if the item expires or you will not use it, you will lose money by purchasing more then you need.

What does the fine print say?

Sometimes a coupon will have exceptions such as a restaurant coupon might say, “not valid on weekends.” It is important that you read these find prints before going to the store or restaurant, or you will end up making the purchase and then not saving the money from the coupon.


Hopefully by answering these questions you will avoid making the mistakes I made that cost me money instead of saving it.



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