Sometimes you just have to stay out of the store or throw away a coupon to save money! Today I’m offering you this tip based on my personal experience (successes and failures). Since most of us use more coupons at the grocery store than any other store, I typically will discuss the grocery store as I offer you general coupon tips.

By decreasing the number of shopping trips you make you will save money by avoiding opportunities to make impulse buys and avoiding the transportation costs associated with that extra trip to the store. Yes, the grocery store is full of impulse buying traps even if it isn’t a “Big Box” store. Your grocery store wants you to make an impulse buy so they tempt you with convenience foods, products on the end cap or in a special display, and holiday-related merchandise. Make a grocery list before you go to the store and stick to the list unless you have a really good reason to buy items not on the list. Simply recognizing that your store’s layout and merchandise selection is specifically tailored to encourage impulse buying will help you avoid the temptation.

I also want you to be aware that not all coupons are good coupons. So, feel free to throw some of them away or just let them expire! I want you to keep this list in mind when you are about to purchase an item with a coupon:

* Do I need this item today, this week, this month, this year? Or is it something extra I want?
* Would I be buying it even if I didn’t have a coupon?
* Is this a special coupon, or one that I would expect to see several more times this year?
* Let’s pretend that I don’t have a coupon, and this item was regularly priced for what I’m about to buy it for (sale price minus the coupon value) – would I even be buying it?

Asking yourself a few questions before you use a coupon will help you determine if you are tempted to buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. Remember that in most cases you’re not “saving money” when you use a coupon, you are “spending money” (albeit spending less than others who don’t have the coupon to use). Spend your money wisely!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so please post a comment or send me an e-mail! I’m looking forward to bringing you Coupon Tip #3 tomorrow, so keep reading!