When I first caught on to the skill of combining coupons and sales to save money on groceries, I became very excited. In my enthusiasm I tried to find every deal and use every coupon. I quickly found, however, that not every sale is a bargain for my family. It is important to consider a few points:
Can I make it cheaper myself?
A good example of this principle is this week’s Publix sale for 50% off Birds Eye Steam Fresh Vegetables. The packages of white rice with corn, peas and carrots are $1.79 regularly and $.90 for the sale. Using the Publix Store coupon (from the yellow Advantage Flier) for $1.00 off two Steamfresh Vegetables with Rice would make them $.40 each.
These seemed like a great deal until I looked a little closer. The packages are 10 oz each, so about 1.5 cups. To feed my family of six I would need to buy at least 4 packages costing a total of $1.60 plus tax.
The package is primarily white rice with a negligible amount of vegetables. I can buy a 16 oz package of dry white rice for $.99 which will make about 8 cups of rice. I also recently bought 12 oz bags of Green Giant frozen vegetables for $.40 each.
I would actually spend less ($1.39) for about five times the amount of rice and double the amount of vegetables in the Steam Fresh with Rice bags. The Steam Fresh with Rice deal is not a bargain for my family.
Can I buy too much?
Some of the earliest deals that I found were for toothpaste. I was so excited to find toothpaste for $.25 to $.50 a tube that I bought it every time it went on sale. I expected to go through the toothpaste quickly with six family members.
Well, a year later I still had 12 tubes of unused toothpaste. Another problem: toothpaste has an expiration date. All of that toothpaste went to waste.
Now I only buy toothpaste if it is $.25 or free, and if I snag a lot of free toothpaste we donate it to a homeless ministry.
Will we really use this product?
Along with the toothpaste fiasco, I have also purchased products that were really cheap but that my family did not enjoy and therefore did not eat. One of the most infamous stories is the Soy Joy Bar deal at CVS. The bars were free with a coupon and Extra Care Bucks. I bought about 12 of them. They were free but my family hated them.
Sometimes I buy a product that we won’t use because it will make money for me. I recently bought the Excedrin Menstrual Relief at Walgreen’s because I made $1.50 in Register Rewards on each purchase. I will simply give them to a friend. Other deals I will pass up.
Couponing is a lot of fun. Enjoy the game, but remember not to get caught up in the excitement and end up costing your family more money than you are saving.
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