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Posted November 15, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Wasting time to save a dollar

Keys, check. Store list, check. Purse, check. Baby, check.

Now where did I put those two baby wipes coupons I clipped out of the paper?

My husband and son stood ready to go out the door as I frantically ran around checking for all the places I might have put those dollar-off coupons.

On top of the fridge? Nope. With the bills? Nope.

Finally, I stopped myself.

If I knew I had two dollar bills lying around the house somewhere, would I insist on finding them before making our way out for our weekly shopping -- a trip that will at least cost us $60?

No, I told myself. I would not.

There's just something about knowing that this little slip of paper that cost nothing can save you a dollar off of something you're about to buy anyway.
There is a certain thrill that comes with saving money.

Scouring sales ads, collecting baby food labels or rewards codes -- they all make you feel like you're getting something for nothing. It's a nice feeling.

Probably a few years ago now I signed up for my check card's rewards program. For every dollar I spend with it I get points, which add up for rewards like cutting boards, movie tickets and even bicycles or luggage.

When I finally remembered to check if I had enough points to get anything, I was able to redeem a $25 Amazon.com gift card and one for $10 for Target
I felt like a million bucks. Of course, I had really spent thousands and thousands of dollars over the years on gas, groceries and other things for that extra $35, which only paid for a couple of books and a half pack of diapers.

The same thing goes with the Pampers rewards program. I bought probably six months worth of disposable diapers to finally earn my son a "My Pal Scout" from LeapFrog.

It seems to me that unless you're really careful, scouting for deals can end up costing you more than you would have ever spent to begin with.

You could end up buying razors you don't need just because there is a coupon, or buying the more expensive baby wipes just so you earn the extra rewards points.

Perhaps my most infamous mistake in this regard was buying four boxes of Eggo pancakes and waffles a few weeks ago from Martin's because they were included in their circular as part of the buy-six-of-these-get-200-bonus-points deal that goes toward getting a free Thanksgiving turkey.

One of my four must not have been the right flavor because I didn't get the points -- and now my son is probably wondering why I keep feeding him microwaved pancakes every morning.

Other times, I have truly saved by buying on-sale diapers coupled with coupons.

Ultimately, the important things seem to be a) be vigilant, b) plan your purchases in advance, and c) only buy things you'd buy anyway or actually need.

Your family might think you're crazy, but you can come out ahead if you actually watch what you're doing.

Do you have tips for saving your family money? Share them.
• Contact Jessica Wiant at jwiant@nvdaily.com

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