Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coupons without Chaos

The question I am attempting to answer right now is: "Are coupons a way to help me focus my finances on the things I really want, or just another way to add clutter to my life?"

Don't worry, you won't have to stand behind me in line while I purchase 3 cartloads of garbage bags and canned ravioli for $5.49 plus 37 coupons. I have neither the time, the space, nor the inclination to go overboard. I am just wondering if I can save a few bucks and make some smarter purchases.

Interestingly, Yahoo featured an article just this week about the impracticality of Extreme Couponing (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/why-extreme-couponing-wont-work-for-you/article2089689/). The article pretty much highlights some of my reasons for not using coupons that often: they take time and organization, they cause you to buy extras that have to be stored, you can mostly save on unhealthy food, and they tempt you to buy things you don't really want or need. My personal coupon issue is that the target coupon audience seems to be families with children and I am a single girl who lives alone.

Nevertheless, I am going to make a concerted effort to use coupons as much as possible for the next few weeks. I will need to be extra careful to make sure that they help me spend less and not buy more. I also need to make sure that they don't cause any undue chaos in my life or (more likely) across my dining room table.

This week I bought the Sunday paper and flipped through the sale adds. I did find a handful of coupons for things I would be buying anyway, probably enough to offset the $1.50 cost of the newspaper. I also found out what brands were on sale at what stores. For example, I knew I was running low on eye cream. Normally I would buy it at Target, but I saw in the flier that my brand was $2 off at CVS. I needed to pick up a prescription there anyway. I paid for my prescription, got a $1 CVS bonus bucks coupon, and used that coupon toward my eye cream purchase. So I saved $3 with very little effort. Win!

Today I decided to try one of those online coupon sites. I used Coupons.com and found about $2 worth of savings on things I would normally buy. Unfortunately it was very easy to get distracted by adds for surveys promising payments or entries into drawings for gift cards. I spent about 30 minutes taking some ridiculous survey, and will probably have to de-spam my inbox tomorrow after giving my e-mail address to that site. Fail!

I think I am going to keep getting the Sunday paper and limiting my couponing activity to that. I will have to make some specific rules for myself about newspaper disposal- I might as well read the thing but plan to get rid of it by Monday evening to prevent pileup. The coupons themselves were great, but the sale fliers were even better- I used them to plan what purchases will be made at which store to get the best deals.

My other plan is to sign up for a Target visa. I buy a lot of toiletries and household goods there, so I think the 5% savings will be worth it, even if it means keeping track of another card. I notice that with my Macy's card I get lots of special deals and offers, so I am hoping to get the same thing from Target. It will just take a little discipline to not overspend on the card- it will not save me any money if I have to pay interest on a balance.

Anyway, I'm sort of new to this couponing thing. Does anyone else have great tips on saving money without sacrificing simplicity? Please post in the comments- I am sure we would all love to hear!

Until next time KISS (keep it simple stupid) and wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. There is a great website: http://www.iheartpublix.com/ that helps match up the sales at Publix with the coupons in the paper. Sometimes it helps me see things I miss.


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