It’s the month of my birthday, and my inbox is FULL of coupons and free offers.  That’s great! But how do I take advantage of these coupons and free offers without falling prey to the other great offers and irresistible buys once I get in these stores or on these websites?  

Have you ever read the book, “How Do You Hug a Porcupine?”   It’s a favorite here right now, and it’s very timely for me.  Because the answer to that question and the answer to this question are the same.  ***Spoiler alert*** Very Carefully.

Here are some of my best tips for taking advantage of deals without busting your budget.

  1. Don’t go somewhere just because you have a coupon.  I have a coupon for a free appetizer at Texas Roadhouse.  We like Texas Roadhouse. I might use it. But only if it just so happens that we are going and it fits into the budget.  I’m not going to make sure that a trip to Texas Roadhouse happens just to get a free appetizer.
  2. Create a folder in your inbox for coupons and deals.  If you feel you are really susceptible to unmitigated shopping binges, have the emails automatically routed here, or automatically delete, depending on your level of temptation.  I have years of practice, so I actually move them myself so I have an idea of what is in there. Here’s the trick – I only use these if I have already planned a purchase from one of these stores.  I do not go to Bed, Bath & Beyond just because I have a coupon. Ever. Before I got shopping for a specific item, I browse the folder to see if there is a coupon.
  3. If you have a voucher for something free, only use it if you know for a fact that you can go into the establishment and leave only with the free item.  If you think you will succumb to the temptation of something else and make an unplanned or unnecessary purchase, don’t use it. The item is no longer free when that happens. I have a coupon for a free bundlet at Nothing Bundt Cakes.  Yum! That place is delicious! But the store is located about 15 miles away in an area I don’t go in my day to day journeys. If I happen to be there for some other reason, I might stop and get it. Otherwise, I’m not going to use my gas and time to go get something that I don’t need.

Here are some special tips for the grocery store.

  1. Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.  An oldie but a goodie.
  2. Make a list and stick to it.  When you have a plan, it makes it easier to stay on task.
  3. Use a store that has free online ordering and/or delivery.  It’s a lot easier to resist the allure of the end-cap deals when you don’t see them.  This is even more of a bonus because it’s also a time saver!
  4. If you use a rebate app, make your list BEFORE you add rebates or clip coupons.  These are great tools to save, but it’s easy to get caught buying things you really don’t need just to get a rebate or use a coupon.  When that happens, it’s not longer saving but wasteful spending.
  5. Don’t be pulled in by the bright signs.  I have read that the best bargains can be found on the tops and bottoms of the shelves.  The things they want you to buy are at eye level. I have found this to be true in my unofficial research.
  6. Have a calculator handy.  This should be easy in the day of smartphones. That super duper deal they have on 60 rolls of toilet paper might not be a deal at all. Do a little division and make sure before you buy.

The last and most important tool to use to resist the deal at any store is to HAVE A BUDGET IN PLACE.  My budget is currently planned through December. That doesn’t mean things can’t be changed around a little, but I know what’s coming, I have a plan for anything unexpected, and I’m not going to be splurging on anything anytime soon because it’s not in the plan.  Any splurges upcoming (6th birthday!) have already been scheduled and paid in full.

What are your best tools to resist the deal?  Let’s talk!