I've been stewing over this post for days – how to portray the message I want to send about frugality. Throughout the "simmer period" of these words I have been given more fuel from my love-to-hate friend "Twitter."
Tweet: "13 ways to become an extreme couponer."
I read: "13 ways to become an extreme hoarder."
Let this be the blog post that puts to rest all of the ridiculous ways in which Americans "save money" and allow you to free yourself of wasted time and anxiety trying to "find a better deal." I give you permission to go to the store and buy ONLY what you need, pay full price if necessary and MOVE ON!
I have many friends, local and virtual who have somehow become lost on their search to "save money." I see three common mistakes among them and I'm going to tell you how to avoid these lifeblood-sucking errors.
1 - Couponing
How many hours have you spent searching for online coupons? Are you constantly googling "walgreens coupon code?" Are you finding and printable coupons to use in stores (never mind the ink usage...however many are available on smart phone now)? Do you think EVERYTHING YOU PURCHASE could have some sort of discount? Are you buying things that you don't need because you have a coupon for them?
Couponing is one of the most dangerous phenomenons that may ultimately lead to hoarding. Do you honestly think the "stock rooms" they show on "extreme couponing" prime-time shows are normal? Does the phrase, "Waste not, want not" mean anything to you? I'm going to call out all my couponing friends right here and now by saying that if you purchase what your family NEEDS, at the time you NEED it, you will buy a sufficient amount – wasting much less! This applies to food, clothing, etc.
I have a family of 4, 3 boys/men, and I RARELY find the need to shop in bulk. Portions are simply too large and I DO NOT USE it all if I buy a larger-than-normal amount. The sale you are taking advantage of WILL COME AGAIN. There is no such thing as "LIMITED TIME" as retail would have you believe.
Couponing may not only lead you to buy brands/things you wouldn't normally, but can take your PRECIOUS TIME away from you. I used to think that since I'm home all the time anyway I might as well search for codes/search through ads to save 50 cents here and there. YOUR TIME IS NOT WORTH $0!!!
Even if you are home doing NOTHING, consider yourself to make $10 per hour. That's how much you might pay a cleaning lady, that's how much you might pay a babysitter, that's what you would spend eating out for lunch. That's AT LEAST how much you are saving by being yourself...being home. DON'T give an hour of your time for a 50-cent coupon. THATS A BAD TRADE.
If the item you're trying to "coupon" is too much money, find an alternative, skip it all together or cut something else from your budget.
2 - Buying knockoffs.
Having just told you to find an alternative to save yourself time on clipping coupons, I'm now going to tell you that by buying a knockoff you are simply delaying the inevitable – spending money you don't have on the REAL THING.
Do your kids want an iPad this Christmas? Are you hoping to find a PANDORA bracelet under the Christmas tree? Either eliminate if from the list or buy the REAL DEAL. Don't settle for less. You won't be happy.
Why are we so ashamed to tell our kids (or ourselves) that, "We can't afford that gift right now." Why isn't it ok to say, "NO!"
Kids are often too young or inexperienced for the things they are circling in the catalog. They need to be taught realistic expectations from a young age or could mature into adults who cannot set limits on themselves.
Tell your kids the truth.
If the item is something that you agree will be an awesome surprise – something they will find value in long after "the season of giving" is over – BUY the REAL THING!
3 - "Twosies"
Why does retail sell everything "2 for $5"? It's because they WANT YOU TO BUY 2! If you look closely on the tag it will say, "$2.50 each." They CANNOT force you to buy 2. It usually isn't a good deal for you because they know you will use it wastefully or not at all. They are trying to clear their shelves and fill up yours.
Also, watch out for "twosies" that are specific. At Target they often have a "FREE $5 Gift Card – with the purchase of 3." They might have it on several varieties of the same product. Recently I decided to take them up on the offer concerning Tide Detergent. I grabbed three different scents OF THE SAME PRODUCT and when I arrived at the checkout they scanned my items, I paid, and no gift card was issued. THEY TOTALLY WON!
Little did they know that I pay attention to those things and when I asked at customer service why I hadn't received my FREE GIFT CARD, she took 10 more minutes of my time to figure out that you need to buy 3 of THE SAME SCENT to get the gift card.
THATS CRAP. But true. SOOOOO, I hauled my disgruntled kids to the back of the store again, feeling zero guilt about doing so and exchanged my soap to get the $5.
BE CAREFUL with "twosies" and don't be lazy about collecting your discount.
If you are buying online USE CAUTION. For example I noticed on Twitter: "Beautiful Owl Necklace only $5.98 – SHIPPED!" First of all, I will unfollow you if all you post is this kind of crap. You know who you are. I clicked on the ad and what I saw shouldn't be worn around ANYONE'S NECK! It was ugly. However, I know there were people snapping that up by the 2's and 4's! It makes me a little bit crazy. DON'T EVER BUY "TWOSIES" in an instance like this.
NOW. Have I inspired you to ditch your petty frugal ways and just start enjoying your time? Seriously, for the money you'll save after hours of work it will always seem like a disappointment. If you are honest with yourself and your books, you didn't come out much ahead.
Stay tuned for a future post on how you can BE FRUGAL in ways that are quick and effective. STOP reading all the petty advice on saving money. STOP watching the morning show segments on GREAT DEALS. "Waste Not – Want Not."
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