Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Lure of Deals I Don't Need

When I was a child, eagerly clipping coupons from the Sunday paper, my mother taught me a very valuable lesson about "deals" that's easy to forget: "It's not really a deal if you don't need it." I found myself wrestling with the issue of "it's a deal" but "I don't need it" today in Walgreens.

Reading Coupon Katie's post yesterday about her plan to "make $11," I was compelled to investigate. Through a series of coupons and register rewards which she outlines, she figured out how to get two bottles of eye solution, men's skin care, feminine pads, and two boxes of Theraflu by spending $13.97 and walking away with register rewards worth $24.97. Sounds great, right?! But for me, it's just never that easy.

First of all, I wrestled with whether or not to buy the "multi-purpose eye solution" which I've always thought was just for those with contacts. No one in my family has contacts, but I tried to justify it as a solution we might use if we get something in our eyes. What's wrong with water? That's what I've used in the past. I walked away.

Then there were the coupons I didn't have: the one for Neutrogena in a magazine I don't subscribe to and the online Theraflu coupons that wouldn't print. Plus, Bob doesn't use special skin care lotion and do I really need to buy Theraflu if none of us have the flu? (That might come back to bite me!) I did buy two of the feminine pads in separate transactions but made the mistake of using one of the $2 rewards with the second transaction. Guess what: you don't get another RR when you do that. Too late.

In my pursuit of the $5 RR for spending $25, I decided it was time to buy the ear thermometer I've been wanting. It's $10 off this week and I had an additional $5 coupon (making it $35). When I asked my pediatrician today what he thought of ear thermometers, he responded, "They're highly inaccurate. Depending on where you point it in the ear canal, you could get very different readings. Just get the $10 version that goes under the arm." But those take two minutes and I got such a good deal! Begrudgingly I returned it.

Finally, there's always the issue of how I'll spend my register rewards. What do I need that costs $10 or $5 within the next 10 - 14 days? If they're items I wouldn't have bought otherwise, then it's not really a deal for me. Today was a disappointing day for me in the savings endeavors, but it was a good reminder of an important lesson.

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