I’m a sucker for a good deal, I mean, isn’t everybody?  It’s logical that if you can get something for cheaper than you’re supposed to, it makes you feel both very happy, and also smart.  I remember my mother, when I was growing up, coming home with something like ten tins of SPAM because it was “such a good deal!”  Then she would struggle to find recipes using SPAM that didn’t sound totally disgusting, eventually churning out a cold noodle salad or something, and bringing it to church/homemakers club/insert other activity that requires you bring food.

I’ve always been the type of person who buys in bulk, for several reasons:

  1. I grew up in a very small town where if you wanted a variety of products you had to drive an hour and a half, so you don’t want to run out.
  2. Most of the stuff you can buy when it’s on sale doesn’t really go bad, so why not just buy a bunch on sale?  I’m talking things like body wash, face wash, shampoo etc.  Yes, you look a bit crazy when you leave Target with 12 bottles of shampoo, but if it’s your favorite brand that never goes on sale and now it’s $1 each–why not?
  3. I hate shopping, more specifically, I hate shopping for necessities.  What is less fun than buying toilet paper?  Maybe going to the doctor, but I don’t really do that either. Why not buy toilet paper once  every six months, and save the dread of knowing that this week, you have to buy toilet paper–again.
  4. I always have, or make a lot of storage space.  Every apartment I’ve had, I’ve been very lucky in this regard.  My current apartment has the smallest bathroom I’ve ever had, but I’ve created storage space because of the reasons listed above.

This summer, my summer of underemployment, I decided to use this deluge of free time to become a savvier shopper, and start using coupons.  To that end, I also discovered a whole host of frugality blogs that give people like me the low-down on upcoming deals, printable coupons, etc.  What I also found, was that a lot of what the women who write these blogs (and it is ALL women) spend what little money they do spend, on basically garbage that I don’t really want.  Yes, it’s impressive when they take pictures of a whole kitchen table full of food and tell you that the original total was $176, but after double or triple coupons and other deals, they paid only $23 (and earned the wrath of store employees and managers), but I still don’t see anything on that table that I would actually eat.  Is it really a deal if you save 90% on Go-Gurt, but never really wanted it?

One of the bloggers actually addressed this issue by saying that often she re-sells things she buys but doesn’t want, or she barters them for other goods and services, or she gives them away.  This all sounds suspiciously like my mother spending hours looking for a SPAM recipe, and you have to wonder, at what point are you not really saving anything?  What is your time worth?

This summer, when I had a lot of time, it seemed worth spending it on saving–simple cost/benefit analysis.  Except, I spent a lot more money and time this summer finding deals, clipping coupons, and going to the grocery store three times a week.  Looking at my budget for the summer, I may have acquired more food, etc, but I also spent a damn lot of money, ate a lot, and made my friends listen to me talk about couponing and saving.  I have to say– not worth it.

I still look through the Sunday circular and clip coupons for things I actually want, but I’m passing on that 10/$10 PastaRoni deal because I already have a cupboard full of it, and eating it gives me a tummyache–not worth it.