6 sneaky ways coupons make you spend more

August 28, 2011 @

Consumers are using more coupons than they did before the recession, and 37.4% are using them “to stretch a limited grocery budget out of necessity,” according to NCH Marketing Inc.’s “2010 Annual Consumer Survey”.

If you’re hoping to save money by using coupons, watch out because stores and manufacturers expect coupons to increase their total sales, which means you could end up spending more, not less. To protect your wallet, be aware of these strategies.

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Coupons expose consumers to a barrage of advertising. Coupons may offer discounts, but they’re also a form of advertising. Whether you clip coupons from the Sunday circulars or print them from a website, you’ll see ads for hundreds of products in the process. Sometimes these ads are accompanied by a coupon, and sometimes they aren’t. Either way, they can get you thinking about buying things you might not have otherwise.

Loyalty cards, which are required to get the best prices at many stores, provide another link to advertising. They collect data about consumers’ purchasing habits, and that information allows stores to send consumers targeted offers, says Stephanie Nelson, author of “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half ” and founder of the popular Coupon Mom website.

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