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Fine Line Between being Frugal and Being Sold


Everyday, I get (and so do all of you) tons of mails with discount coupons on all sorts of products. In fact, we get the sunday papers solely for the supermarket coupons. While collecting and using coupons wisely does help you save money, I wonder how many times have we bought something that was on a “sale” or “discount” simply because there was an offer, or because the discount was only “valid for the next few days”. As I reflect on this, I think there is an art and science to using coupons and discounts to be frugal, and there is a fine line when you are being sold to something you do not really need. This is how Mrs Credit Card and myself compartmentalize this issue :

Regular Coupon Use : The True Money Savers

Mrs Credit Card cuts out the coupon from the Sunday papers everyday. Her supermarket and grocery shopping is very strategic. She only s stuff which she can use the coupons. She is patient if there is no coupon for a particular item. She simply waits until a coupon appears. In fact, she has done this for such a long time that she knows the coupon cycle!

I’m glad she cuts these coupons because they are real money savers.

Opportunitic Use of Discounts and Sale

At the back of our minds, there is always something that we need, but have put off ing it because we either want to wait and get a better deal or simply do not want to spend that kind of money.

However, once in a while, lady luck smiles on you and you get an offer in the mail, a discount coupon or and store closing sale annoucnement. Very often, Mrs Credit Card is on top of these situations and we do end up taking opportunities of these occasions to something that we have always needed, but put off.

Impulse or luxury purchases because of sale

But once in a while, we all fall for the sale, discount coupons when we stuff either on impulse or stuff that we do not really need. We fall into this trap often when we are on a vacation and walking into shops with ‘sale’ signs outside.

So while we actually save on “full retail price” on these items, the fact is that we would have saved simply by not ing them. I have found that we tend to fall for these impulse purchases when we go through an extreme period of being very frugal. I think one way we get around this is by not being fanatically frugal and giving ourselves little luxuries once in a while. For example, I would not recommend depriving yourself on Starbucks simply because you have heard Suze Orman talking about how much you would have saved in 20 years if you stopped drinking Starbucks everyday. This is just like dieting. Once a week, you need to have a mini pigout session. Otherwise, there’ll come a time when you snap.

But this same phenomenon also happens when Mrs Credit Card uses her coupons for the grocery shopping. I sometimes think we are ing too much stuff simply because we have coupons for them. I get the feeling that sometimes we food not because we particularly want to eat them, but simply because they were on sale. And though we may be ‘saving’ because we use our coupons, we may have saved even more if we did not use all our coupons.

We haven’t really looked into this in detail yet, but I think the solution to this is to really write down what you really have to , or want. Then take advantage of it when there is a coupon or sale. If there is a sale on something that you do not want, then just ignore it. Easier said that done!

1 Comment
June 7, 2007 @ 1:17 am

I agree. I’m extremely frugal and then I went out and bought an 05 acura TSX for the wife. after a few weeks of driving it around, she thinks we should sell it and get an 04 honda accord or less!


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