Most of us could stand to save some money. We have the same bills and household expenses as everyone else, plus we have to pay for the tools and materials we need for our art work. One way to keep on top of every opportunity to save is to subscribe to every budgeting, coupon clipping, and money saving blog, Tik Tok content creator, and YouTuber we can find. But do all of these methods truly save money all the time?
Coupon Clipping/aka “Couponing.”
YouTube couponning channels make clipping digital and print coupons appear to be the path to endless free merchandise from stores. The channel host grabs their phone, a wad of paper coupons, and a shopping list, takes us around the store, and proudly shows us their receipt for anywhere from nothing to a few dollars for several full size, brand new products.
Should you be able to duplicate what the content creator did exactly, meaning you have saved or clipped the exact same coupons, and found the same products and discounts available at your local store, you will indeed have gotten the items without spending any money. But unless these are items you either truly want or are able to use to bless someone else, you will still lose money doing this.
Assume my local big box store is offering the exact same sale on “Brand X Body Wash” that I see on my favorite couponing channel. I clip the necessary digital coupons. I track down someone with a print edition of the local paper, and ask if they would mind if I use their unwanted coupons. It works. I head into the big box store and head out with three bottles of “Brand X Body Wash” that I did not pay for.
There is just one problem. I don’t use “Brand X Body Wash,” and am in fact, allergic to it. Unless I can find someone else who can use it, all I did was take items from the shelf that another customer could have used. I did not truly save money, because I still have to purchase something else, a different body wash or a bar soap, that I can actually put in my shower.
And this is the best case scenario. In most cases, clipping coupons leads us to spend more than we would have originally. If I went into the store for one bottle of $3.00 soda, but bought two bottles because I had a 2/$5.00 coupon, all I did was spend two dollars more on soda than I had originally planned to spend.
Couponing can help you, but only if the coupon is for something you were planning to purchase anyway. If “Brand X Body Wash” is what I use in my shower every morning, or if I went into the store to stock up on that soda, using those coupons will indeed save me some money.
Taking free items just because they’re free.
Organizations that give free food and other necessities to the community are great blessings. Swaps and free tables at yard sales are also great ideas, and can be wonderful resources for things you may want and need.
But taking items for no reason other than they’re free is not only greedy, it can wind up costing you money. Let’s take the example of a free table at a yard sale. I grab everything on the table, just because it’s free, coming home with a wall hanging that needs a new frame, a jacket I will need to have tailored to fit me, and so many books I need a new bookcase to hold them all. Each of these “free” things now costs me money I wouldn’t have spent had I just helped myself to the items I could truly use and left the rest there for people who can alter the decoration themselves, fit into the jacket, and have space for the books.
There is nothing wrong with accepting free items. Just pause first, and make sure the items are things that will truly help, rather than hinder, your efforts to save money.
Buying things that are good deals for somebody else.
We all have different things that are important to us when it comes to the things we buy. Some people are interested in electronics, and feel it is necessary to own the most recent smartphone they can afford. Some admire designer clothes, and strive to have a wardrobe full of prestigious labels. These things are completely unimportant to others.
Purchasing something that is discounted, even deeply discounted, for a reason that is meaningless to you is still a waste of money. A quick trip around the designer clothing resale website “The Real Real,” informs me that the next cardigan I buy can be a Prada cashmere for $195. Similar sweaters on Prada’s website are priced at $1,390.
While this is indeed an amazing discount, and would be a great deal for anyone into fashion design or collecting designer clothing, it would still be a waste of money for someone who does not share these interests. My favorite cardigans come from Walmart, and cost about $15 full price, so I would not be saving any money at the Real Real, no matter how deep the discount.
Signing up to sell for multilevel marketing companies for the discount.
Multilevel marketing, the practice of signing up to offer your services as a freelance sales and recruitment person for companies such as Tupperware, Mary Kay, Jafra, and others, is known to have something like a 97% failure rate. Most people are unable to turn this work into a profitable business. Even counting on these companies for a second, part-time job is more likely to result in loss than gain.
But signing up just for the discount seems harmless enough. You love the product. You sign up as a consultant. If there is a kit, you get to pick through yours, keeping the items you want for yourself until you’ve paid yourself back the sign up fee in products. Then you get everything else you want for 20%....30%...sometimes even 50% off. And if you do happen to do a little sales work, you can even earn a little side hustle cash.
In 2018, I thought I had found this very opportunity with Avon. And to be fair, it worked for a short time. I earned enough money to pay myself back what I spent on my startup kit, plus receive two jars of vitamins and a selection of makeup to try, free to me by only spending what I earned in commission from my first few sales. But by the time I selected the items I wanted to repurchase, and set a goal of earning $100 beyond their cost to get my hair done, my sales had dried up. Those first few sales had been placed by people who didn’t want the items and were only trying to do me a favor. Had I kept going, I would have been forced to purchase items with cash I did not earn from Avon in order to keep my discount. Over time, the amount of money I spent to keep the discount would have become more than the value of the items I earned for free.
Whether you are tempted to buy something just because you found a coupon or a sale price, take anything you can get for free, or sign up for any type of side work, take a moment to pause and think things over. You may have found a great deal indeed. Or you may realize you were about to spend even more money than you would have without the “opportunity.”
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com