Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Post: The Deal Scoop

 As part of this month's challenge I have recruited the help of a few guest bloggers to share some new information for us to learn about. Today's guest touches on a subject that many people today are concerned about... saving money.

I enjoyed delving into the world of couponing and deal shopping when I lived in the Sates, and have done some research on this subject before. (Go here, here and here to read about my system and thoughts in the subject) I am so thankful to have this post to add to my files as well! Take it away!

I have always been frugal,  and I enjoy finding the best deals possible on whatever it is that I need to buy.  I got seriously into couponing and deal hunting back in 2008.  I was browsing the web trying to find the best price on a Christmas present for my husband when  I stumbled across a forum where people were talking about all the free stuff they were getting with coupons.  I had heard of people using coupons to get free stuff, but I never believed it was really true.  I thought it was just TV sensationalism.  I was intrigued to see that people were discussing not only what they were getting free, but how they were getting it.  I began to read…and read and read and read.  I honed in on figuring out how to work the deals at one store, and I did not attempt a shopping trip until I was quite sure I had mastered the concepts behind their reward system.

Finally the day came when I ventured into my local CVS, coupons in hand.  Everything I planned to get was in stock, and I came out of the store approximately 5 minutes later, having spent $0 in cash and actually earning $30!  Needless to say I was hooked!  I proceeded to visit 3 more CVS stores the same day, and I came home with a van full of products, and I still had $30 to spend the next week.

I had proven to myself that couponing really works, and I began researching how to use coupons at the grocery store.  Then I proceeded to learn how the rewards systems work at the other drugstores in my town.  As I read and researched these things online, I became aware of a whole network of couponing and deal blogs.  They dredged up in-store deals, online coupon codes, free samples, money-making opportunities, etc. and posted them multiple times a day on their blogs.  It seemed the number of deals one could snatch up both online and in the stores was unlimited!  I ended up starting my own blog to share my finds with family and friends.

Before long, however, I was shopping at so many stores and getting so many deals that deal hunting actually became a burden rather than a blessing.  I have had to find the right balance between using the deals to my family’s financial advantage and being downright ridiculous.  I have developed three simple rules to follow that have helped me to keep that balance.

  • Make sure the deals you are seeking out are relevant to your particular situation.  Maybe you’ve found that you can get 10 boxes of instant potatoes free with coupons, but your family doesn’t eat processed foods.  Don’t spend your time getting things just because they’re free.  Instead, determine what your own family’s needs are and research how to get the best deal possible on those things.
  • And with that in mind, my second rule is this: A little research goes a long way.
  1. Are you trying to eat whole foods?  Spend time talking to people in your area who have a similar style of eating and find out where they get the best deals.
  2. Are you needing to cut down on your toiletry expenses?  Research online how to “work the deals” at the drugstores.
  3. Do you have particular grocery stores at which you like to shop?  Find blogs with the best weekly deals at those stores.   
  4. Never buy anything without checking to see if you can get it at a better price.  Check store prices against online prices.  Check to make sure there are no coupons for the item you need to purchase.  Look at multiple stores because one of them is bound to have the item on sale.  Combine a sale with a coupon for an even better deal!
  5. When shopping online, always check for coupon codes or cash back sites to lower your price.  You can almost always chip a little bit off of your total that way.
  6. If you can wait a while before purchasing something, you may be able to find it on Craigslist, ebay, or at a yard sale.
  7. If you’re buying local food, could you barter goods or services of your own to bring down the actual cash payment you would have to make?
  • Finally, Deals are my last priority.  I guarantee you I will be doing my best to never pay more than I have to for something.  But there are times when it’s just not worth it. If I have to ignore my children and leave my house a mess in order to get a deal, that is one deal I’ll be passing up. Although I would love to get the best price on everything 100% of the time, my family is more important than any money I can save. 

 MaryEllen is a wife and mommy to three littles in the beautiful state of North Carolina. She enjoys saving money, buying deals, living frugally, and helping others do the same! She blogs at The Deal Scoop, where she gives daily deals, free samples, and product reviews.

Thank you so much, MaryEllen, for sharing your thoughts with us! Click here to get a printable version of this post for your files (or save it in one of the ways we discussed yesterday!)

I love the practical solutions to saving money, such as simply waiting. I think you can never go wrong by waiting, researching the best options, both in price and quality, and getting the best deal that you can! By waiting, you may even find that you don't need it at all. Not spending is the best deal advice there is. :)

I also loved that MaryEllen mentioned that she puts her family and her "high calling" first. That is so important when you feel you are getting sucked into the couponing game!

What saving or couponing tips do you have?


  1. I really liked the part about not buying something that you don't use. And what you said Nichole, about not spending. That is so true! I can't count the number of times that I just waited to think about it and was happier with another idea or was just as happy without that item.

    It is so easy to see a deal and think that you have use it. After all, it saves me SO much money!! It is 75% off!!!
    But what is harder to see is how much money it COSTS me to save that 75%.



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