Business advice

Watch out for those bargains; they may bite
March 29, 2009, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been paying more attention to coupons lately.  They are everywhere.  They used to hold a niche in the Sunday paper.  But, now a days, you can’t escape them.  They are part of your receipt at checkout counters.  Watch, for those, as sometimes they are good.  They show up in your email and in your snail mail box.  You couldn’t run from coupons if you tried.

The thing to keep in mind is that many coupons are luring you into buying products you don’t need or wouldn’t ordinarily put on your shopping list.  And the quantities that you have to buy in order to use the coupon keep on increasing.  It used to be you bought one item and you got the discount.  Now, it may require you buying two or three of the same item in order to qualify.

There are also a lot contingency coupons.  The latest one I have seen is buy $25 of frozen food and get a $10 coupon.  Not many buy that much frozen food.  Apparently, there has been a slowdown in purchases of that product.  It would be interesting to see how well that promotion is going.  I wouldn’t fall for it unless I had a large family and a freezer to go along with it.

Then there is the thing about we were all taught that making things from scratch in the kitchen would always save us money.  Well, not any more.  I got in the mood to cook a stew and searched for a recipe.  I went to the store to pick out ingredients.  One small package of stew meat now equals to more than $5.00.  By the time I would have been finished with the vegetables and the needed spices, the price would have been near $15 or more.  Buying one of the skillet dinners frequently advertised on television was only $5.99.  It took only a few minutes to warm it up.  Cooking from scratch unless you find a discount grocery store or warehouse is not good for the budget anymore.

Also look out for grocery stores’ rewards programs.  Most only give you back a small discount after you have bought a couple hundred at their store. And maybe you get the discount sent four months down the road.  Consumers, for the most part, are into instant gratification.

I find myself saving coupons that I might use on a day that I have some extra cash since it’s a product I’d like to have, but in most cases, would pass up.  Kind of the opposite of what coupons are suppose to do for us.

If you happen to find a Sunday newspaper that has coupons you would use without hesitation, then it might be a good idea to buy two copies.  Or, look around to see if someone in your circle buys the same paper and offer to swap for the one’s he/she might use.

Don’t settle for the coupons in the store’s circular or the Sunday paper.  You can Google grocery coupons and find offers any day.  Most sites ask you to enter your zip code, so you have a better chance of finding coupons useful locally.

If you prefer to use a store’s site, there is always the chance you can find a product that your store doesn’t carry.  So, you need to be prepared.

Coupons can be useful, but it takes a fine eye to read the small print and sit back and think before jumping into the fray.  Do I really need this brand?

The evening news in Southern California has been running tidbits on women who are making a name for themselves with a blog or website that deals in, clipping coupons.  They show the results of their shopping.  This isn’t the complete picture.  If this shopper usually earns say, $10 an hour and she has spent 40 hours a month with her coupon thing, and saves $200 a month on groceries, now look at the picture.  She has actually lost $200 in her effort to saves.

I am not saying to give up on bargain hunting.  I am saying to look at the whole picture before jumping in.  A bargain is a bargain if it is a good deal today and 30 days down the road.