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Are you making these couponing mistakes?

Common couponing mistakes

Couponing Mistakes

It’s no secret that coupon usage has skyrocketed in the last few years. People are being more cautious about how and where they spend their money, and using coupons is a great way to save a few bucks (or more!).

However, when people first start using coupons, they tend to make a few mistakes along the way. I was one of those people. I made all of the following mistakes and then some – don’t be like me!

Here are some couponing mistakes I see many new couponers making:

Not being organized

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be organized if you want to be a successful coupon user. Even if you don’t want to dabble in extreme couponing, you still need to be organized.

Make sure you have a system for organizing your coupons, plan a shopping list before you head to the store, and throw out expired coupons at the end of every month.

Buying things just because they are a “good deal”

Oh, how I was so very guilty of this one! I know how exciting it is to get a good deal, but you have to remember that not every deal is worth picking up. Why would you buy Raisin Bran cereal if your family hates raisins? Who cares if the box only cost you $0.50 – that’s $0.50 that just went down the drain.

It’s okay to say no to a deal. Leave it for someone else and move on!

Not sending in mail-in rebates

The whole point of a mail-in rebate is to try out a product to see if you like it. Oftentimes, you are reimbursed the full price by the manufacturer (sometimes it’s a few dollars, special coupon offer or free gift card offer). You are wasting your money if you buy these items with the intention of sending away for the rebate and then not doing so.

Keep track of your mail-in rebates with a rebate tracker. I highly recommend writing down your rebate information right after you make your purchase and then mailing the rebate within a day or 2. Leave a note on your calendar if you have to – just do not forget to mail in those rebates!

Becoming coupon obsessed

It can be addictive, I know. The thrill of getting the deal and walking away from stores with free or close to free groceries is a feeling that many of us enjoy immensely. However, if you’re not careful, it’s very easy for couponing to completely take over your life.

One day you’re clipping a few dollars to save some cash at the grocery store, and the next day you are spending hours every day hunting for coupons and deals, and hours more doing your shopping (multiple times per week!).

Scale back and make sure your priorities are in check. I’m going to assume you are using coupons to save your family money and not as a sport – right? Keep your family happy by getting great deals and actually doing something other than couponing – like spending time with THEM, instead of your coupons.

Stockpiling too much

It can be very easy to go a bit overboard when you come across a great deal, so you need to make sure you are staying on top of the items you already have in your stockpile. Use our stockpile inventory sheet to track exactly what you have and make sure you are not buying more than you need.

No one likes coming across expired products in their stockpile. Avoid this by only buying the amount of items that your family can actually consume before expiration.

I love using coupons. They save me thousands of dollars every year and without them, I don’t think we would be as well off as we are, financially. However, it did take me some time to learn how to use coupons “properly”.

Now that I am no longer making any of the above couponing mistakes, I am able to focus more on just providing for my family without spending much money – instead of taking time away from my family and spending every waking moment focused on scoring great deals.

Are you making any of these couponing mistakes?


  1. Jennifer

    I’ll fess up, I still have a hard time passing up a good deal if I have a coupon.

    I am getting better, I set my budget for the week, figure out what I really need and what I am just buying cause I have a coupon.

  2. Jenn

    Hi Cassie, I have another one for you…how about using coupons to buy things that are unhealthy for you that you may not have bought if you didn’t have a coupon. I know I’ve been guilty of this on items such as candy, or prepackaged/ready prepared items or snacks that are full of fat and salt and hard to pronounce chemical additives….things that probably wouldn’t have bought if it were not on sale and if I’d not had a coupon! Having these things once and a while is ok, I guess, but having a stockpile of them that you end up consuming just because they are there is bad news. I think this is a trap that many couponers fall into without realizing it.

  3. Stephanie

    One I see people do often – coupon till their broke.

  4. Melissa

    I have totally made all of those mistakes when I first started, I have already started rectifying my mistakes, but it is nice to see that I am not the only one who has made them LOL

  5. The Keswick Blog

    Not currently making any of those mistakes, but it’s for sure easy to fall into those traps when starting out. I used to be bad for buying things because they were ‘a great deal.’ Um, yeah, except I would never end up using that ‘great deal’ and end up throwing it out. So, maybe not such a great deal after all, LITERALLY throwing money in the garbage. That hurt and so I stopped. Lesson learned.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. stef

    I find it really hard to coupon effectively since I don’t have a car so it seems really hard to get the ‘good’ deals at some stores.

  7. Erin

    Hi, I made a few of these mistakes…
    I would print out multiples of every on-line coupon and wasted so much paper & ink just to throw away the coupon in a month when I did not use the coupon and I have forgot to send in mail-in rebates on time as well.

    Also, I have to limit the time I spend on my hobby since it is very addictive!

    My mistakes have been rectified.

  8. Carole

    I got so obsessed with using all my coupons that I very nearly went into a slump when I had to throw away outdated coupons. We have a food bank at our church and I pacified myself that someone would need it. I now allot a certain amount of money, weekly. Some weeks it gets spent sometimes it doesn’t. It’s good to see where I’ve missed the mark so that I can get on the right track. Thanks Cassie !

  9. Sandra

    Made samw mistakes in beginning now buy what we need & use!!!! It is a learning experience for sure. Thank you for all you do Cassie & all the very best with new bab y!!!!!! <3

  10. Caroline

    I deliberately do this especially on HABA items. I hate donating money especially when I can make the money go much further. At the end of the year I’ll clear out my stockpile and donate it all to the local food bank.

  11. Sue

    I heard a quote on time on one of those “Clean your clutter” type shows.

    “You can go broke saving money”

    I was one of those who bought “things” (not just groceries) because they were such a great deal. It finally dawned on me that I was better off just buying things I really needed or loved. I spend less and buy smarter now.

  12. Sharon

    We NEVER buy pop and chips as a regular grocery item. The odd time I will run to the store to pick up as a treat if my daughters are having friends over. I ALMOST gave in to that $20mail in rebate that was offered on Pepsi products around Superbowl. But then I put it into perspective and realized that I wasn’t really saving anything if all I was buying was junk that wasn’t good for us.

  13. Shelagh

    I have made a few of those mistakes. Now I limit myself to which coupons I will take and just because it is a good deal doesn’t mean I will buy it. Although I have to admit a few of my great deals have become items we would never have used before and now we use them with great regularity.

  14. Cassie Howard

    Jenn: I have done that many times and it was only recently that I stopped!

    Sandra: Thanks so much. 🙂

  15. Norma

    I must say, I was guilty of not being organized. Now I have a pouch organized and label with the coupons. It makes it so easy, and I now know which coupon will expire soon, and use them only if I need to. Thanks for the great tips.
    Ps:Hope you’re enjoying the kicks… wishing you a safe delivery!

  16. Sheila

    Thanks so much for the stockpile inventory sheet. Wish I had thought of it! My stockpile is mainly cleaning products and beauty products – but even without expiry dates it is good to know how much you have on hand – I printed it off and put it in my “Savings Binder” where I keep track of coupons, freebies/samples, etc. Thanks, Cassie – you are the best!

  17. KD

    Some good tips for sure. Here’s a suggestion…if there is something you or your family doesn’t like, but is free or almost free (you used Raisin Bran as an example), why not consider picking up the item for donation? I use coupons not only for myself and my family, but also to pick up items for the local food bank and Ronald McDonald House.

  18. SavingMentor

    I think couponing and save money has a lot of natural stages that people go through. It is normal for people to be a little bit obsessed in the beginning and they are learning and figuring things out. Then eventually it dawns on them how much time they are spending doing it so they start analysing where they get the best return on their time investment. They scale back to focus on the highest return so they still get a good amount of benefit but with a lot less time invested.

  19. Autumn

    I’m BRAND NEW to couponing.. if I can even call it that. I understand the logistics behind it, and the benefit to it.. but honestly, I have NO idea where you all get your coupons!! It is leaving me feeling a bit ignorant and inept lol. I have joined such sites as Websavers, and etc. and look for coupons in papers and in stores but I so rarely see any, and the few I find tend to be things we would never use. Where does everyone get there coupons?? I find at this point the only way I am saving money is by price matching at Walmart or going to Freshco, as they beat the lowest price by 10%. Any helpful advice would be well appreciated, thanks.

    • Martina Bolducci

      Hi Automn! Many coupons can be found on these websites (,,, P & G Brands, etc.) BUT you can also find tear-up coupons in stores AND contact each and all main food compagnies (either by mail, email or phone) and ask for a free booklet of coupons and/or coupons. Many companies will be glad to hear that you enjoy buying their products and will gladly send these coupons to you as an insentive to make you buy even more. I hope this helped! Happy couponing! 🙂

  20. Cassie Howard

    Autumn: Check this page if you are looking for more coupons –

    KD: I encourage this 100% and do it all of the time.

    Sheila: My pleasure!

  21. Jayme

    hi everyone, Cassies article is interesting, I love this website its very insightful! I am new to couponing and have felt that obsession, sort of a rush when a great deal is in sight, but am slowly getting over it. I have also felt let down when the cashier wouldnt take the coupons that I so wanted to use. That said, I never argue and am always respectful to those that are working. I have also bought coupons on ebay and find it could become an addiction if one was not careful with this, I am glad that im aware of what could happen and am careful and cautious. Couponing is great, everyone needs to realize thought that shows like those on TLC are made up and staged and not to base real life on getting everything for free. I love couponing and am glad that there is a way to save a little here and there, Canda is a great country despite the rules and regs that are put on us!!!! Jayme

  22. Allison

    I enjoyed this article. Yes I get great deals on things and I do have to keep track of what I buy because I can go a bit over board. I have 12 boxes of cereal and our family doesn’t eat that much! I like the comment about not buying it even if it’s $0.50 and you don’t need it. True if you are on a tight budget. But if you have the $0.50 to spare this is a great way to support your local food bank.
    Thanks for the articles!

  23. Natasha

    I, along with many others, have found this article extremely helpful!
    I fell into the coupon trap a few years ago when I first started renting.

    I’ve recently picked it back up, I’m now printing coupons twice a week, and going shopping once a week.
    I limit my spendings to ONLY items I see in flyers, and weekly, compile a list of purchases from flyers in my area.

    This helps me limit my purchases, and by keeping a list, and only bringing the coupons I need, I am able to budget effectively.

    Dont get me wrong, my stock pile is adding up — 5 boxes of tampons? 4 tubes of toothpaste, 4 bottles of tylonel, things that will get used over a long period of time, but were a good deal at the time.

    Personally, I go for flyer sales, but purchase only a flyer sale in which I know combined with a coupon is the ultimate lowest price. such as: tylenol was 4.47 for 100 pills, and having a 3.00 off coupon made this a steal of a deal. Deal like that are hard to come by, so keeping a handy stack of coupons for particular items is essential for me.

  24. Theresa

    I realized that I had gotten a little too obsessed with getting a good deal, when I almost lost it over a cashier telling me I could not use a $1 off coupon on an item. I was right, she was wrong. I let it go at the time because there was a line behind me. I obsessed about this the rest of that day and almost went back. I had a moment of clarity when I realized that I was fuming over one dollar. I have wasted 20 times that amount and not flinched.

    I still do not like that cashier much, but I realized that even though she was in the wrong, it was not worth making her feel bad and making myself look like a psycho cheap arse. I came close that day though.

    • Cassie Howard

      I have done the same thing on numerous occasions, but you’re right, it’s not worth it to get so worked up about $1 (or even a few dollars).

      • Christine

        I have not had my ah ha moment yet, I am not even 6 months into couponing but have noticed a slow decline in feeling like I want to hit a store almost everyday even if it’s just to see what tear pads may be out :). However as I read this I thought about cashiers and already one at my local safeway I don’t go to as when I first started I had a bunch of the same item all of course with a coupon to go with it and she made me feel ashamed to be a “hoarder” as she called me. Why cashiers feel threatened my us couponers is beyond me as that cashier is not the only one I have run across with comments including a few that have told me we couponers “scam” manufacturers. I smile and know I am having fun and saving money.

  25. christina

    thanks for this! I love your articles! sometimes I forget why I am doing the couponing, to save money, not to have the one big score. If I have a free product coupon that I know I will not be using it, I will get the item and donate it to the food bank. the Uncle Bens had those insert coupons for the free rice and sauce thing when you bought a pack of rice. my kids LOVE the rice, so I got a ton of the other ones for free and gave them all to the food bank.
    I try to keep my main stockpiles for things that dont expire quickly like toothpaste, laundry soap, razers, diapers, etc. I realy need to start to organize my food better. the stores here dont let you stack and the sales are not really that good, so being organized would really help me.

  26. Lori

    I don’t notice a savings week to week, because with the extra I buy for stock piling I’m actually spending a little more.

    When I do notice it, is when my husband is laid off…he tends to work 2 weeks, off two weeks. We go for awhile and we get a huge hydro bill, or there’s lots of birthdays that month. So by having my stock pile, I can skip a week or two of getting groceries. I just spend about $50 or less getting fresh fruit/vegs and milk etc.. It’s been a saving grace for us!

    • Dj

      It’s awesome .. to be able to eat healthier and fresh products because of couponing .. it allows you to have what you need at low cost and save money so you can buy fresh foods often 🙂

  27. Marie-Pierre

    Personally i go through phases, at first it helped me when my father decided it was time i live by myself… then i found a roommate and stopped for a while because of school i didnt even had time for groceries.. now the term is almost ending so im gonna stock up on some things for when its rush time so frozen pizza coupon are a must! and i started going to costco with my roomates mom so i save there as well… so im gonna try to build it back up with 30$ a week which is what i did a year ago and it went quite fast even though i didnt know all the tricks 😉

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