Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What I've learned from Extreme Couponing

I have learned a lot from Extreme Couponing and frugal spending for the last few months. And I'm surprised how much of what I've learned has helped deepen my Sanity & Satisfaction.

1. I've been taught to love, and therefore buy, only certain types of brands. One of the first things you must learn to be successful at Extreme Couponing is to ditch brand loyalty. In order to save lots of money you must be open to using coupons for similar items you usually buy but aren't your favorite brand. It's a bit uncomfortable at first but after a while you stop noticing.

2. I've been taught to think the only way to keep myself looking and smelling fresh is to buy expensive products. Since I don't live in or near a big city I don't get the sweet deals that other couponers get and so I have had to seek other avenues of money saving in the beauty department. My main tactic is to figure out how many beauty, hygiene and cleaning products I can make myself. I have found that most of these items I buy at the store I can actually make at home for pennies. Toothpaste, glass cleaner, counter cleaner, deodorant, face wash, face toner, soap, shampoo and conditioner are just some of the items I found recipes for. I even found a recipe for clay mask (you know, the stuff that you smear on your face and body at expensive day spas). I haven't tried it yet but the main ingredient is plain, unscented, clay kitty litter. I found a huge bag at Walmart for 2.99. Sure beats the hundreds of dollars I'd spend at the spa. The bottom line is that you don't need a closet full of over-priced bath items to feel pampered and look beautiful.

3. Just because a store tells you that you are getting a deal on something doesn't make it true. One of the stores I have started to frequent is Dollar Tree partly because I know that whatever I buy it will only be a dollar. It must be a deal, right? Well, last month I bought some movie candy at Dollar Tree to sneak into Paranormal Activities (terrific movie, by the way). I also stopped at Walmart on my way to the movie and found the same candy for $0.50. I found many other items at Dollar Tree that are more expensive than our local grocery store too.

4.The last and probably most important thing I've learned from Extreme Couponing is that most of the time you are paying for marketing instead of the quality of the item itself. The next time you buy a product, any product, ask yourself if it lives up to the marketing. Did that shampoo really make your hair look like that sexy model on the commercial? Did that hair dye really make you play a better tennis game? So you even need that shaving gel or will your trusty soap work just fine? I've heard many savvy business owners say they don't sell products, they sell confidence or sex, or relaxation. And I guess I see their point. But you can get relaxation from turning your phone off and not checking your email. You can get confidence by sticking up for yourself or exercising. No purchase necessary!

Extreme Couponing is a great exercise to help you change the way you think about shopping and the products you buy. It's also a great exercise in being Sane & Satisfied. You don't have to spend 40 hours a week preparing for your shopping trip to haul four shopping carts of cereal home. (I only spend about 2 hours a week preparing and if there aren't any great deals I'll skip a week.)

Even if you never clip a coupon or know what WYB2 or B1G1 means the more you think about your shopping habits and the more you are aware of what marketers can make you think about certain products, the more you will save and the more Sane & Satisfied you will be.

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