Thursday, February 9, 2012

The "Couponing" Adventure: Exciting, rewarding, but not always healthy...

I daily follow several bloggers to keep up-to-date with coupons & deals. Doing this has saved my little family of four a lot of money in various areas. We have lived well and stayed within our monthly budget (for the most part) over the last year, and I know that takes a lot of hard work.

Over the last few months, I've been noticing a tension starting to build as I read the latest blog posts, scour the most recent "scenarios" to get a good deal, or look at the mounting pile of coupons in my coupon bin (I toss all coupons, weekly flyers, etc... into a bin until I get to tackle them so they don't take over my house). Many days I'm simply just overwhelmed! I try to remind myself that I spent most of 2011 pregnant. I spent the remainder of the year learning to balance two kids under two. My pile of "Garage Sale" items in the basement has been steadily growing. Yet I still feel like I should be doing more!

I have loved the "couponing" adventure this last year, but you know what? It's not always healthy. Yes, it's healthy for us to stick to our budget, eat well, and give generously. But as I read posts and/or comments of fellow deal-seekers and couponers, I have started comparing myself to their lifestyles, or feeling guilty for not doing a certain deal, trying a specific frugal tip, saving more towards future purchases, or giving to others as much as some of the examples I see. Here are some *silly* examples (they are silly, primarily because I have spent so much time worrying about them!) of what I'm talking about:

- I felt guilty about the fact that I didn't give our UPS driver, mailman, garbage man, or my son's Sunday School teacher Christmas gifts*. We had decided to stick to just immediate family this year, but yet I was torn because so many others were posting ideas for gifts for various service areas.
- I use name brand laundry detergent*. Gulp. I don't make my own laundry detergent. I know it's much cheaper to go that route, but throughout the summer/fall I paired coupons with some great sales and got name brand detergents for around $2 a bottle or less. So we use that.
- I didn't order personalized stamps during a sale in December, when I could have gotten them cheaper than buying them at the post office*. (I didn't see the deal until the last night it was available, it was late at night, a I just couldn't pry my eyes open any longer since my daughter was only 6 weeks old.) I kicked myself for this again this week when I had to go to the Post Office to buy stamps @ $.45 each.
- I look at drugstore flyers every Sunday and think if there is possibly a way I could get my coupons together and brave taking my toddler and infant daughter with me to CVS or Rite Aid*. I wear myself out thinking about all the details required for that kind of feat.
- My son is almost two and we haven't started his college fund yet*. There is just truly no where in our budget to pull this from right now.
- This week, I'm only giving a Valentine's Card to my husband*. We mutually agreed to not do gifts for each other. And I didn't hand create Valentine's for our friends, families at our church, or for my 2 year old son's friends. I'm not even giving him one! And we're not buying him any candy.

Do you ever have those kind of moments? I have been realizing I've losing sight in some ways about why I use coupons and follow deals. I started this coupon adventure to save money, live well within our budget, and have money to give to others. Along the way I have somehow started feeling guilty that I'm not doing more... I realized that my mindset started shifting from helping us live within our budget/lifestyle, to trying to cram as many deals into our budget/lifestyle as I could.

So I'm recognizing how great this adventure is, but also how if I let it, it can be harmful to me as well. I need to spend more time being thankful that my husband has a steady job, that we have a small stockpile of basics in our basement, we eat a lot more fresh produce & meats since I started on this journey, and staying within our budget has enabled me to stay home with my two small children! My life is good and full when I don't compare it to other couponers/bloggers!

So if you've had any of those type thoughts, remind yourself of the positive changes (or consistencies) in your family budget & lifestyle, instead of focusing on all the things you don't (or can't) do. Do YOUR best, do what you CAN do. You are making a difference in your home/family!

* I am (and have been) encouraged by so many other bloggers & couponers as they have shared various deals, coupons, DIY ideas for the around the house, and holiday gift ideas. My intent in this article is not to criticize or condemn any of those things as wrong, because they are all great and generous things to do! I am just showing examples of how I personally have fallen victim of the comparison game and put myself down for not achieving everything that "everyone" else does, instead of focusing on what I CAN do with my time & money that help us live well and within our budget/lifestyle. Not a single one of us can do it all!

1 comment:

  1. I do this all the time too! I keep looking at all the fun Valentine's things I could be doing with my girls and for my husband, and yet I'm not going to be doing any of them. I also beat myself up about missing deals because the savings on the one item isn't enough to justify the trip to the store (especially when I have to go buy the item for full price later...). but we do what we can, and should be happy with that!