So, you found some great deals online and clipped or printed the coupons to save big amounts of money. The big question is: “Will you really save money by purchasing this item?” Just because someone on the internet says it is a deal, it may not be a deal for you.
When I first started using coupons, I searched the internet to find the best deals. Whether it was a free item or even if it cost me a few cents, I bought them all. After all, I wasn’t really paying much (if anything at all) for the item. After several months of shopping this way, I found myself with a pantry full of foods I rarely ate, a medicine cabinet full of vitamins I never took, and a closet full of toiletry items that were nearing their expiration dates. I stared giving things away. My kids came over and I loaded them up with unused items. I was soon able to look at coupon shopping in a whole new light.
Coupon shopping takes a lot of planning. You have to research the deals, clip the coupons and work out how to get the most of your shopping trip. This may include making several lists for the same store since some stores limit your “rewards” per transaction. So, you spend hours figuring out how to do it. You get to the first store ad the shelves have been cleared of one of the items on your list. This shoots your whole plan into a tizzy. I mean, you had to buy that product to get the “reward” to use on your next transaction. It is now back to the drawing board. Do you skip this store for today? In most cases, I would try to figure out a different way to do my transactions. I have now spent several hours planning a screwed up shopping trip just to get a few free or chaep items. Is my time worth it to spend hours of planning just to get a few items for free? This is where I finally decided I needed to make a few changes.
Toothpaste, medicines, and most foods have expiration dates. Why would I want to spend all of this time finding these freebies only to end up either giving them away or throwing them in the trash. Granted, it made me feel good to give things to others that may need them, but I was wasting a lot of time-and as we all know, time is money. I have since changed my way of thinking.
As far as grocery shopping, I am now making a menu based on the sales of the week. I go through the sale paper to find items that we actually eat. I then add these to my menu. After getting the menu planned, I go through my coupons to see if I have any for the items on my list. So far, this has saved me quite a bit of money. It has also gives me peace of mind in knowing I am not being wasteful. For my toiletry and other household items, I still get free toothpaste, deodorant, shampoos, and household cleaners. I currently have about 10 bottles of Dawn dish soap, 10 deodorants and about 30 toothbrushes. All were free and do not expire. I have a closet with about 4 huge packages of toilet paper-it does not expire either, so therefore is not wasted unless I get mice in my house ( I have a cat and 3 dogs to take care of that-LOL). Other items are bought on an as needed basis. No more waste in my house. There are people starving in this world and I was throwing perfectly good food in the trash.
In conclusion, my tips would be to:
- Evaluate your shopping habits. Do they save you money or make you spend more?
- Use coupons on items that you normally use. It is okay to try something new, just don’t buy 10 items of something new just because it is cheap. You may not like it.
- Plan your trip carefully and try not to stray too far from your plan.
- If you do buy something that you do not use or do not like, donate it to someone that can use it.
How do you get the most from your money when shopping? Do you do the “extreme couponing” that is all over the news? What tips do you follow?