I love shopping for the best deals. I clip coupons to match with store sales to optimize my savings. I also sign up for several daily emails which update me with the best sales, coupons or other freebies for the day. After reading some of those articles, I wondered how many of us just buy something just because it’s on sale or free. Maybe you don’t really need the item but since its only a few cents here or a few dollars there, you go ahead and get it.
That got me thinking, are you really getting a deal? It’s possible some of your savings can actually ending up costing you. Here are 5 red flags to think about when you are looking for your next big savings.
1. You blow your monthly budget – Yes even things that are on sale can add up if you don’t pay attention. A few dollars here and a few dollars there make a big difference over the course of the month. If you are spending more than your monthly budget allows you to, you are not getting a deal, unless you are making up for that in other areas of your budget. I wrote another article about this and the power of the phrase “It’s Only”. You can read that post on my blog by searching for the term “It’s Only”.
2. You aren’t using what you are getting – Hey it sounds great, right? A box of cereal for $.75 or box of granola bars for $.25, or even free. But then you notice as you clean out your pantry that most of these items are expired or you don’t even use them (or worse you didn’t even like the item to begin with!). If this is the case, then you are not getting a deal. Expired food is a waste, even if it was cheap. If you still feel the need to get these types of items, and they fit in your budget, consider donating to a food pantry. You both win – you got the item cheaply and the food pantry is able to give it to a needy family.
3. You give a lot of it away – If you end up giving away a lot of the items you find on sale or get for free/cheap, you probably aren’t getting a deal. It takes time to clip the coupons, gas to drive to the stores and even buying items for small amounts add up over time. If you do want to help a friend or family member get items, consider asking them to give you some money for your time and gas. They can most likely still gain big savings and you both win!
4. You don’t fill out the rebate forms, use the catalina coupons (register like coupons that print after purchasing specific items to be used on your next purchase) or the instant savings – Most sites will structure deals to include the final cost after the rebate or catalina coupon is used. While these can be a great deal, if you consistently neglect filling out and actually mailing the rebate forms, you are not getting a deal. The same goes for the catalina coupons. For instance, most sites will show you the final price of the item AFTER they have deducted the savings of the catalina coupon. Since you can’t instantly use catalina coupon off the price of the item you are getting, your not actually saving at that moment. If you let these expire or forget to use them on your next purchase, you aren’t getting a deal.
5. Your coupons are causing stress – Finding the best deals can be a little challenging. Not only are you driving around dealing with traffic, sometimes we can encounter the most unfavorable cashiers who aren’t so cooperative with our coupons, even if they are legitimate. If you find yourself stressed out between the driving, rude cashiers and fighting for the last free after coupon item, you are probably causing more harm to yourself than good. Take a break from couponing and remember if you miss a deal they usually come back around again every 4-6 weeks so you can pick it up then.
Hopefully these tips do not apply to you. If they do, think about what you are buying and how you expect to use it. If you don’t think you will use it, skip it and save your money for a better deal that comes along.