Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thought Provoking Thursday

When I find that a deal just isn't worth it for me... I like to leave the coupons for another shopper! This practice is called being a 'Coupon Fairy!' Hmmm, it looks like I just got my wings... wink!

What kind of a price tag do you place on your time?

Being an avid coupon spender, I've learned to set some pretty well defined parameters for my own personal deal seeking!

My first year of coupon spending bliss, if I'm gut level honest, consisted of me shopping at least three times per week! My son was a baby, he was easy to entertain (he mostly slept in his car seat) and quite often, when the weather was warm enough, we'd shop via our stroller since we live close enough to CVS, Walgreens, Target (my most fateful downfall!) and a grocery store... heck, I'd call it a great way to shed those post baby pounds!

But, my perspective began to change when I felt like my son started suffering from 'cart seat butt' (yep, I coined that phrase) and I began to worry that his first sentence may be "Mommy, lets go shopping!!!"

I literally (very embarrassingly now) shopped all of the time. If I read sweet deal that a blogger had posted online, I felt the need to swoop in and duplicate the deal for myself! Yep, I was a major donor at my local food pantry, which is awesome, but the truth was, I enjoyed the getting out of the house and the thrill of the savings!

Little by little, I began to feel overwhelmed. Coupon spending had become more than just a tool to allow me, as a full time stay at home Mom, to feel like a financial team player beside my husband. In reality, coupon spending had become addicting.

It was about a year ago that I took a long hard look at my shopping priorities (along with other priorities as well), and I decided that I needed to scale back my purchasing to just the items that my family uses most frequently. I also still pick up FREE or ridiculously inexpensive items to donate, but not to the same degree of intensity!

I had to learn, sadly... the hard way, that managing my time and energy is just as important as managing my finances.

Now, when I read about 'sweet deals' online, I ask myself these important questions to decide if this deal is for me:
  • Do we actually use this/need this type of products in our family?
  • Do I prefer another brand? Should I just wait for my favorite brand to be on sale?
  • Is doing this deal a good use of my time? My energy?
  • How far out of my way would I be driving? Is it worth the gas?
  • How much would the tax be on my "FREE" item? Is it still worth purchasing?
  • Could someone else benefit more than me from leaving these items on the shelf?
This week, FYI, Purex laundry detergent is on sale at Walgreens on a BOGO (buy one get one FREE) sale, and a recent newspaper insert offered a Purex BOGO coupon... making TWO bottles of laundry detergent FREE! But I'm skipping this deal!

Yep, I've got the coupons and I could definitely find the time to stop into Walgreens, but I don't NEED detergent, Purex is NOT my favorite brand, its NOT worth it for me to spend my time, energy and pocket change to pay the tax for products, nice as they are, that someone else can benefit from the spectacular sale!

I couldn't have said that a year and a half ago... but I'm growing!

Nowadays, I love grocery shopping and an occasional stop into a drug or convenience store! I know that I'm keeping up with my new way of spending less time and less money to run my household when I do shop at a drug store and the store employees tell me that they've missed me!

How do YOU manage your clipping & spending time?

Read more frugal tips at LifeAsMom!

17 comments:

Coley

Its ironic that you posted this today! I was just having a little talk with myself (hey, the 2yr old doesnt get it) about limiting my trips more. I'm finally at a point where I have a good, comfortable stockpile and its kind of nice to now be able to sit back and evaluate each deal based on what my family needs. And with extra time I can focus more on finding deals on the things we really can use. I can really relate with the couponing just to get out of the house, sometimes thats my only "peace and quiet". But recognizing that I need those moments has helped me start to use them a little more effectively by taking a trip to the library or having a chat on the phone with a friend instead. And neither of those things cost me a dime!

Staying Lean

I am the same way. I didn't have too much of an addiction phase but I was going to the store several times a week for a couple months or so. I am very very busy working full-time, dedicating 18 hours a week to volunteer bible-work, and trying to blog as well. So I am definitely learning to be more balanced. Last week I skipped grocery stores altogether and made one trip to CVS. I've never gotten into Rite Aid because I know how bad I am at rebates, and I skip Walgreens here and there because it is so much more difficult. So I'm definitely getting more balanced.

Danielle

Honestly, I have been couponing for years but feel like I go through highs and lows with the "addiction" feelings. If I have a busy week with the kids and manage to get to the store and save $20 off my grocery bill that week then I'm like oh well. Other weeks when I'm not as busy or when the weather is nicer, I find I shop alot more and at different stores. I tend to save more money but in the same sense spend more money. Sometimes my husband will point out "did we really need that"? Not that he cares when I go shopping I just think he can see that sometimes I am a bit overdoing it just because I had coupons. I enjoy reading your blogs because it shows that everyone tends to have similar feelings and experiences with couponing. I find that when I take the time to look at different ads, go through my coupons and make a list that I tend to spend less and feel better about my purchases. I really like your list of questions to ask myself before I go shopping and hope that will help tame the crazy coupon lady in me and keep the level minded responsible coupon savy person being the one shopping for my household.

Julie

I, too suffered from this addiction. And, yes, it started when my son was a baby. I think that as my stockpile started to grow, I began asking myself if we really needed another body wash or bottle of BBQ sauce. Usually, the answer was no.
Now I limit my shopping time to the 2 1/2 hours my son is in preschool one day a week. Unless it's a super deal, if I can't get to it during that block of time, I don't get it.
My son is 4 1/2 now. He practices with scissors as I cut my coupons, and he still begs for his own CVS card. Hmmmmm.

Mom C

Good post to ponder after driving 38 minutes to the Howell Kroger. I only go to Howell once every 6-8 weeks and this was my first time this year so I don't feel SO bad. Yet I still thought to myself after checking out, okay, the only shopping I need to do for the next couple of weeks is milk, veggies & meat (and that's only if it's on sale)!

Anonymous

What paper did you get the Purex B1G1 coupon in? I didn't see it in mine, and wanted it!!!

Anonymous

Well I also suffered from what my husband called "hoarding the free way" It about killed me to let a deal go by and not snag it! But alas, with 4 kids and a busy schedule I have had to weigh my time out to. (Put the kids to sleep and run out or go to bed myself) Most of the time bed wins now! I now go to Super Kroger once every 4-6 weeks and I go with a coupon buddy to save on gas and do almost the same Q & A before I feel like I need to run and snag a deal! I have also relized that deals always come back around! Thanks so much for all you do with your blog it helps so many people!
Jessica M.

Erica

I didn't seem to get the Purex coupons either. I always get the Free Press and I was so sad that I didn't get them.

I saw that the expiration date was so close that I didn't order any. But those sure would have been great to have for that Walgreens deal.

Laura Webber

To be honest, I have just read about the Purex coupons, I haven't even looked for them! You may want to see if your local Walgreens shelves are bare and ask for a rain check... and then order a couple of coupons from ebay or another coupon clipping service. maybe we didn't receive that particular coupon!

Also, thanks for the great feedback! You ladies ROCK! Way to think through your purchases!

Tammy

Shortly after I started clipping coupons, and printing coupons I printed for most of the deals even if we didn't need it. But one day as I stood in front of the creamer deal of the week, with no one in my house drinking coffee. An older gentleman noticed I had coupons and said wow you even have coupons. Since he knew the creamer was already on sale. I decided I wasn't go to get the creamer and ended up handing him the coupons. As I shopped through the rest of the store I felt really good knowing I had helped someone else. Kinda like you said an angel giving to someone else.

Later I wondered though even though I assumed he used the coupon that day what if he took the coupon and didn't spend it and went and made copies or something with a coupon that would point back to me. Since you mentioned you leave coupons have you ever worried or wondered about this. As not everyone would know the rules behind the black and white internet print coupons. This was the only time I did it based on this fear.

Chris

I left an extra Kleenex coupon at Meijer on Sunday, then went on my shopping. Just before going to check out, I noticed that one of the Kleenex boxes was messed up, so I went back to switch boxes. The coupon was already gone :)

Laura Webber

Hi Tammy,
I doubt that someone who doesn't even clip coupons for themselves would think to copy coupons! If I were ever contacted about too many of my coupons with my specific IP address coming back to the manufacturer- I'd tell them that I practice coupon fairy-ing. I think that it is a very very small chance that someone would scam like that!

Hmmm, I've never had that thought cross my mind, but I'd rather err on the side of saving money for someone else than just tossing my coups!

Robyn

i think the purex B1G1 was in the 2/21 red plum. i'm in north dallas and didn't get it, but my friend down the street did...

Ellen

I'm still learning - it's a process. When I began couponing, I 'ran' after every deal - like a kid in a candy shop. Realistically, I can't do that anymore. Like everything else, prioritizing and maximizing your time/effort is most needed.

And yes...I leave lots of coupons for others & offer them to total strangers in the grocery store ('oh that crazy lady'). :)

Dawn

Laura: This is so ironic, I just posted this morning about how I've scaled back a lot because it's too hard on me and my 2 year old to hit every store and I'm quite frankly not organized enough to prepare everything the night before! Then I just went to your site to find the same topic :) I'm not super close to any of the stores unlike a lot of my friends that have all the stores less than one mile from them so that helps me pick and choose where I'm going for the week. Keep up the incredible work!! You help all of us so much!

Monroe on a budget

It's OK, you don't have to chase every deal. : )

But the deals you do pick up, when you put the time into it, will help your family during the crazy weeks when someone is ill or the schedule is just too busy to play coupon games.

Anonymous

Hi Laura,

I felt so good this past weekend to hand off several of my coupons that I wasn't going to use.

I had three Archway coupons but knew we didn't need three boxes of cookies (even if they were only 44 cents a box) so an older lady and I began talking about how I grew up with the windmill cookies and she decided to buy a box, so I told her she only had to pay 44 cents...she was thrilled! It did feel good.

I put several coupons on shelves and gave three other coupons away that day. Hmmm, coupon fairying, love it! :-)

PAM