Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Double Edge Sword of Couponing

Coupons, suddenly they are "high fashion" as the recession continues to inspire hundreds of thousands of Americans to question their spending habits. I've been "frugal" for at least two decades now, and coupons play a role in that life style. But, to a limited extent. Frugal for me is not spending excess time or money on things. If I have a coupon for something I already plan to acquire (good or service), then it is a good deal. If a coupon is going to make me spend time and or money doing something I would not normally do, then it might not be such a good deal. Sure, trying something new at a bargain is good. But if a 30% off coupon for Kohl's (one just arrived) motivates me to wander around their store, seeking out an item that I did not need prior to the coupons arrival, then it is not frugal. At least not in my book.

If you can be patient about purchases, and then keep an eye out for a discount, that is ideal. You'll guarantee that your really do want the item or service, eliminating impulse purchases. And you may be able to get it for a steal. One of my favorite coupon sources is the Bucky Book. It is a fundraiser for my Alma Mater (UW Madison), and is filled with coupons for stores I regularly visit (hair salon, kids shoe store, favorite restaurants). And when I need something new, like drywall repair, it is the first place I turn. Happily I discovered a coupon for 50% off drywall repair, which we needed when a foot of snow melted over new years and ended up in our finished basement.

So, that is my view on coupons. I like them, but I know that can inspire impulse buys and view them cautiously. And that is why people call me frugal.

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