How to Avoid Going Broke When Trying to Save Money

by Marcy on February 15, 2012 · 3 comments

In the March 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, there is an article about de-cluttering your life. One of the pages in the article highlights “The Bargain Shopper/Coupon Clutterer”. Toward the end of the article Peter Walsh is quoted as saying “you can go broke saving money.” And I can see his point…to a degree.

It does take gas money to chase down deals at multiple stores per week. And planning your shopping trips and executing them can take a lot of time, and we all know that time = money.

That being said, I still see value in hunting for bargains, using coupons and stockpiling deals, and I feel this is possible WITHOUT going broke.

Here are a few quick tips that can help you save money without going broke:

  • Evaluate what your family uses frequently, and only stockpile items that make sense for you! If you never feed your family Spaghetti-O’s, then it doesn’t make sense to stockpile them, even if you find them for $0.10 per can. However, your family likely DOES use toilet paper, so it makes sense to stockpile as much as you can afford if you find a great deal on it.
  • Set aside a portion of your grocery budget specifically for bargains/deals/stockpile items. For example, if your weekly budget is $100, set aside $20 for working the deals at the drug stores, Target or wherever you most like to stock up. If it is a particularly good week for stockpiling items that you use frequently, dip into the remaining $80 to fund those purchases – still keeping your total spent for the week at $100. (These numbers are examples only, do what works best for you!)
  • Limit the number of stores where you shop. Shopping around can save big bucks, but you have to balance the time and expense of driving to all of those stores! If you live near many stores that are close to each other, this isn’t as big of an issue for you. But if you have to travel across town (several times!) to nab all of the best deals in a given week, you need to evaluate if it is worth your time and money – or if it makes more sense to pay a bit more at the stores closer to home.
  • Set aside space in your home for your stockpile purchases and STOP buying when that space is full. If you are renting a storage unit to house bottle of laundry detergent and packages of paper towels, you might want to take a step back and re-evaluate your shopping habits. At a certain point it is ok to stop making purchases and start actually using your stockpile. That’s what it is there for!
  • Only stockpile items that have a long shelf life, and that you know you will use. Great items to stockpile include toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen storage bags, aluminum foil, trash bags, laundry soap, dish soap, deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, floss and toothpaste. Groceries can be a bit trickier – but cereal, granola bars, canned goods and other perishable items might make sense for your stockpile  if you eat them frequently. Again – do what works best for you and your family.
  • Avoid daily deals sites if you can’t say no! Daily Deals sites are everywhere. Groupon. LivingSocial. Eversave. Zulily. Plum District. And those are just a few of my favorites. :-) These sites can offer incredible deals on dining out, entertainment, gifts and much more, but they are only “deals” if you have the cash to purchase them – and if you are actually going to use the vouchers. The limited time frame that these deals are available can make you feel pressured to buy – that’s the point! If you find yourself getting sucked into these sites and can’t say no, slowly back away from these sites! In the long run you would be better off paying full price for the services they are offering.
  • If you have to go to EXTREME measures to plan your trips, acquire your coupons, travel to multiple stores, and store your items, stop and ask yourself it is really worth it.

If you have any tips that you would like to share, please sound off in the comments below!

I have been using coupons and stockpiling for over 4 years now, and doing so has saved my family thousands of dollars. I have had to learn to adapt my strategy based on the amount of time and money that I have available, and even when I don’t have a lot of time to devote to bargain hunting, I know that any little bit that I do is valuable to our family, and our savings account!

Are you new to using coupons and bargain shopping? Learn more about where to find coupons, how to use them, how to organize them and more in my All About Couponing Series.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cyndi February 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

One way I only buy (or stockpile) the items that we use is to go throught the coupon inserts and cut only what we, or my mom or friend (baby stuff) will use – everything else – straight to the recycling bin. This way I’m not tempeted on a good deal or something we do not need or will not use.

I also think that a quarterly ‘review’ of your stockpile helps. This way you get an idea of how much you have of certain items. I started doing this after finding 11 different bottles of the same shampoo it different areas of my house!

2 Sue R. February 24, 2012 at 7:38 PM

I do agree that when your space is full, quit stockpiling. It’s very difficult to pass up that great deal. Also, to quit buying deals when you have more of a particular item than you can use, such as allergy or cold medicine. Thanks for the tips, they are much appreciated!

3 Nicole February 25, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Donate!!! There are families always in need. If you have an abundance in your stockpile, or if there is a great deal you just can’t pass up, take the items to a shelter.

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