This month’s Money magazine had a great article by Jean Chatzky called “When Getting a Deal Just Isn’t Worth It.” In the article Chatzky discusses the extraordinary amount of time she spent searching for the best deal on a big screen TV. She started by reading consumer reports and a dozen reviews, then checked out Costco, Best Buy, and Sam’s Club. Only to realize the TV would never fit in her car anyway. She returned home and searched the Internet for consumer ratings. She then ran queries against the best search engines, but even after she found the TV she wanted she couldn’t click ‘buy.’ After spending the equivalent of an entire work week searching for the best bargain she was afraid she might be missing out on a better deal. After stepping back from the situation she also realized she had spent a week’s worth of time in the quest to save $200.
I completely related to this article. I recently noticed that I was spending way too much time searching for a good deal. It all began innocently enough when I started clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper. I soon became aware of drug stores like Rite-Aid and Walgreens that are always giving away freebies. I began spending Sunday morning circling the weekly ads for items to purchase. Everything felt great until I read a post online from a woman who had saved hundreds of dollars by shopping at CVS.
Suddenly I found myself reading article after article of CVS fanatics. I decided to try my hand at CVS savings and began clipping coupons for items I didn’t need but would use at some point. Shampoo, conditioner, you know the basics. The problem with ECBs is that the coupons are only valid for one month. Some months I couldn’t find products I wanted or needed, but I had to burn the ECBs to earn more ECBs. So I had to go to CVS and search through the ad for something I could purchase. I refused to buy items I didn’t need. Although I came across plenty of websites that suggested buying glucose monitors if you weren’t diabetic and weight loss items even if you weren’t overweight. (They suggested giving away the items they didn’t want, but to do that still requires going to the store, searching for the sale items, and waiting in line to purchase them.)
Like Chatzky I recently realized that all of this effort might not be worth the savings. I find myself with a coupon organizer filled to the brim with expired coupons and I’ve decided I need a new method to this madness. In part, I am giving up the CVS quest for ECBs.