Deal Delirious

by Diane R. Schmidt

There is nothing like getting something for free or almost free. Deal hunting has become a pastime of thousands of penny-pinching Americans. With the economy being in the dumps for a few years now, any way to save a buck sounds good. But is there a limit to stocking up and getting good deals? Yes!

While stocking up on items that you need is a good idea, what happens when you are stocking up so much, you run out of cash for other items you need to buy? Also, stocking up on perishable items is never a good idea. Do you really think your family of two will go through a giant box of cereal before it goes stale? Probably not.

So, as a deal hunter myself, I'd like to add in my two cents on deal hunting, stocking up and when it's gone too far:

Deal Hunting: Bagging the Bargains

Black Friday is a crazy shopping day. Customers will line up outside Wal-Mart, in the freezing cold, at 4 am, just to get in to buy a $10 DVD player. At one time, before my deal hunting days, I didn't understand the madness, but now I do. There is nothing like getting something very cheap. It feels like a small victory, against the "evil" stores and their high prices. But did you know those who run stores are not stupid? They know if they offer $10 DVD players, you'll also fill your cart up with gift wrap, expensive toys and other items you weren't really planning on buying. Remember, with every awesome sale, there is always a strategy behind it.

So, you need a strategy too. First, plan on resisting the urge to "stock up" on cheap items. For example, around 4th of July, stores start unloading their summer merchandise. Have you been stocking up on cheap flags for 4th of July or summer clothes for next year? Have you really planned these purchases out? I mean, how many red, white and blue tablecloths and cups do you need? Save your cash and use it for something you need. Or bank it in a savings account.

Yes, stocking up can go too far. The mustard example comes from my stocking up days. My family uses one specific kind of mustard. Once, I went a little nuts stocking up on it, when it was on sale and I had coupons, which made it very cheap. Now, we have at least 20 bottles of mustard. While it will keep awhile, I do wonder if we'll use it all before it expires.

This is just one example of stocking up going too far. Another one is if you stock up on items your family doesn't use, just because it's free. If you don't use the product, either don't buy it, or donate it to a food bank or shelter that will use it.

When It Has Gone Too Far

When you notice your credit card statement is filled with purchases you don't remember making (but do remember you got some good deals), it's time to step back and figure out what you are doing. Are you stocking up out of necessity or to fill a void in your life? More stuff won't make you more secure. Also, if you want to feel more financially secure, getting into debt to get deals won't achieve it! After all, you can't pay your VISA bill by sending them a case of barbecue sauce you got on special!

The very best deal you can give yourself is to have some money saved, pay off your debt and leave some room in the basement, for stuff other than your stockpile. While deal hunting is a fun hobby, remember to shop smart!

Take the Next Step

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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