Whether you’re trying to balance your household budget or save money to buy your first house, discount coupons can help.
Coupons alone are not a panacea that will cure budgetary woes or enable you to quickly save up for a real estate down payment, but they can play a role in achieving your financial goals.
Building up your financial nest egg or saving thousands for a down payment requires planning, organization, and motivation. While this may sound like a steep mountain to climb, the biggest challenge involves examining your values and overcoming self-limiting habits and beliefs. If you’re convinced, for example, that it’s impossible to save money and get ahead, then those beliefs will slow you down, if not sabotage your progress, completely.
There are a lot of reasons why discount coupons are not an effective money-saving strategy for many people, but it often boils down to three things:
- Disorganization: Although coupons are a marketing tool used by businesses to get consumers to buy more products and services, it’s often a “win-win” situation. If a coupon happens to be for product that you need or would ordinarily buy, then it’s like having extra money in your wallet. For some people, putting the coupons IN their wallet is a good way to make sure they have them when they’re at the checkout counter or drive through.
- Pride: There’s nothing undignified about using coupons, unless you have such a large stack of them that you’re causing people behind you to roll their eyes, sigh loudly, or grumble under their breaths! And speaking of misplaced pride: If you’re over 60, don’t hesitate to claim your senior citizen discounts at restaurants, the theater, movies, public transportation, museums, car rental places, and hotels. Those savings can really add up!
- Lack of planning: When your trips to the grocery store are planned, rather than sponteous, you’re a lot more likely to remember your coupons and your shopping list. By having your coupons with you and knowing what you need to buy, you’ll be more focused and tend to spend less money on impulse items.
Effectively managing your household budget or saving money for a house down payment is usually the result of multiple strategies, rather than just using coupons or doing comparison shopping. One of the first steps to gaining control over your finances involves examining your cash flow situation. Itemizing your expenses and deducting them from your income will give you a clearer idea of where your money is going and how much you have left at the end of the month. By listing your expenses and disposable income, you can often identify “leaks” in your cash flow and find ways to stretch your dollar farther. When you assign yourself the job of “gatekeeper,” you’ll be surprised at the many ways there are to tighten your belt, without making major sacrifices in your lifestyle.