Monday, October 18, 2010

Watch out for coupons...

Coupons, coupons, coupons! Oh how I love coupons. Before too long you maybe listening to me singing about coupons, but I must caution you first…I am not a singer! Now that we established that I was not blessed with beautiful singing voice, lets move on to my favorite topic about coupons. When I first discovered coupons, I was amazed at how much money one can save by simply matching coupons with sales. In no time I became addicted to the world of couponing. On Sunday morning I would drive to Walgreens before church to pick up “freebies” along with 5 newspapers and there have been times when I bought 8-10 newspapers. See, I wasn’t kidding you when I told you that I was addicted.

Although I was saving money, my addiction was not healthy. I was thinking about coupons nonstop and running to the store at lunch break to check out the latest deal. Then I found myself buying anything and everything that had a word “free” attached to it. What I didn’t realize is that even “free” items sometimes require out of pocket expense. Let me explain. When my mom was visiting us a year ago, she and I took at trip to Kmart to participate in double coupon promotion. I noticed that a certain brand of shampoo was on clearance and I had a coupon that after doubling would allow me to acquire a bottle of shampoo for $0.25. My mom stopped me from buying and our conversation went something like this…

Mom: Why do you need another bottle of shampoo? You already have 20 bottles at home.

Me: But mom, it is only $0.25! It is practically free!

Mom: It is not free if you have to pay money for it. Therefore you need to put it back and stop paying for items you don’t even need.

Me: Fine…I will put it back.

My mom was right, I didn’t need another bottle of shampoo even if it only cost me $0.25. Thankfully my mom was able to open my eyes that I was spending money on “free” items that weren’t really free. At Walgreens I would easily spend $10 on items just to generate 10 bucks in Walgreens money. Before my mom’s visit I considered all these items to be free, but after my mom’s visit I realized that I had to invest money in items that I considered “free” because they generated store money back.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I am a big advocate of anyone and everyone using coupons. It just my coupon strategy has changed since my mom’s trip. Now I only buy items that we actually need and I no longer buy items that cost pennies but I have no use for them. I no longer shop at Walgreens, because I found myself spending way too much money there just to acquire ”free” products. Instead I prefer shopping at CVS where the expiration date of ECB (extra care bucks) is much longer and my out of pocket expense for items that we need is very little. Some weeks I am even ok to skip shopping all together and eat from our pantry where as before I was addicted to driving to Target (1 hour away) just to pick up 3 items.
Even though I scaled back on hard core coupon shopping, I still get the thrill of watching my total go down thanks to coupons. I still giggle when my husband asks if I have a coupon for an item that he wants to buy. And I am grateful for friendships that I have created with cashiers because of coupons.

Share your couponing experience with us!

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