Cutting Coupons

Cutting Coupons

Cutting costs …


It’s Sunday morning. And like every Sunday morning, my Dad and I sit at the kitchen table cutting coupons from the Sunday newspaper.

Dad and I evenly split the newspaper inserts and with coupon-cutting clippers, slice and pile our paper money into a common pile in between us.

We are both intelligent consumers who don’t fall prey to the psychology that typically trips weaker-minded retailers. Most of those suckers are enticed by a few pennies to stray from the products they normally purchase. Their brand loyalty is challenged by a false value luring them toward a different commodity.

Not Dad and me.

We are not outsmarted by the psychology of coupons encouraging the trial of a new product or service.

I find a half-dollar coupon for shampoo we use. 

Clip. Stack. Cha-ching.

Dad adds a half-as-valuable clipping for the salad dressing we’re almost out of.

Clip. Stack. Cha-ching.

A few more quarters and dimes are added to the pile as Dad makes the final trims on a long, skinny, full-page-width coupon. With surgeon-like precision, he removes the loose shards of paper from the edges. I watch as a rare $3.50 coupon is added ceremoniously to the top of the pile.

Clip. Stack. What?

“What are you doing Dad?”

“I’m saving three fifty!”

“For Marlboro cigarettes.”

“And?” Dad questions the psychology of my inquiry.

“You don’t smoke!” I remind Dad.

“But I can save $3.50!”

And just like that, the psychology of coupons knicked our intelligence. We had ceremoniously joined the 80 percent of consumers who switch brands or businesses because of a coupon’s opportunity for value. We had become victims of a change in behavior (an unhealthy one at that).

A lot of times, I catch myself falling for the coupon psychology of a cheaper, faster or “better” way to do something. I allow myself to take the time to clip the coupon, but I also take the time to ensure I’m not letting the coupon lure me toward an unhealthy decision.

Kind of like slowing down now to go faster later.  Sometimes clipping coupons now and not using them later is how we save money.

We thought we were literally cutting costs, but it turns out that when it comes to defeating coupon psychology, cutting costs.