Your Coupons Are Making You Poor

The following guest post is from Neal Frankle of Wealth Pilgrim. Wealth Pilgrim is a fantastic resource, and on my list of daily reads. After reading the post, head over to Neal’s site and sign up to receive his posts.

If you love clipping coupons, you may not enjoy this post or agree with my premise. But I am convinced that coupons are a huge contributor to overspending.

Coupons by Matt McGee on Flickr

In fact, let me ask you a question: When you spend time thumbing through the paper or surfing the net for great coupons…aren’t you really just thinking about spending money?

Of course you are.

Coupons are directly tied to spending.. You don’t collect them for those amazing graphics. Right?

In fact, for many people, browsing for coupons is part of an overspending ritual. This may not describe you, but I’ll guarantee that people who spend lots of time looking for coupons spend much more time thinking about spending than they spend time thinking about saving and investing.

Ever heard someone tell you they bought something just because it was on sale?
That’s almost as bad as someone saying they spend a ton of dough and tried to justify it because “it’s deductible”.

Coupons weren’t developed by Debtors Anonymous. Coupons were created by the Retailers Association of America probably. They did it to give you a reason to get into their store and spend money. That’s it. They know that once you’re there, you’ll keep spending. You might get a deal on toilet paper, but they’ll get you on the breakfast cereal.

Coupons were not created to save you money or help you save for your retirement.

And you know what…..it works.

If it didn’t, you wouldn’t find any coupons in the mailbox, newspaper or on the internet.

Of course, some people use coupons to stop spending money they don’t have — and I hope that describes you. But most people get sucked in. Coupons get you to buy stuff you really don’t need.

Don’t believe me?

Look at your trash can.

It’s full…right?

That means you are buying more than you need.

That’s why I don’t spend any time looking for coupons. I don’t want a “spending” mindset.

I want an investor mindset.

When I need something I go out and get it. I don’t clip coupons and then find a reason to need something. Maybe I pay more for the stuff I need than you do. But I don’t buy anything I don’t really need. At the end of the day, I spend less money as a result of not collecting coupons.

So if you’re looking for a good personal finance or a great small business idea, just say no to coupons from today on.

Am I wrong? Do you only buy stuff that you absolutely need or do coupons get you to bring home more than you intended to?

Note from Frugal Dad: When I read Neal’s title my immediate reaction was, “Are you nuts? You want me to run this post on Frugal Dad?” But after reading the guest post, I must say Neal makes a good point.

Looking back on my own experience with coupons, I remember making some impractical decisions in the name of “saving money” because I had a coupon. Honestly, how many squeezable mayonnaise bottles does one family really need? With the exception of stockpiling a few essentials using coupons, our family has found that we generally come out ahead by skipping the coupon and simply buying the store brand.