Billy Joel sang, “Honesty is such a lonely word.” And let’s be honest, as trendy as it is, extreme couponing is NOT for everyone. “Why,” you may ask? It’s extremely time consuming. Have you ever watched some of those shows on the topic? It takes those people hours to find, cut, and match the coupons with the flyer. Then the actual shopping trip itself can take additional hours. To me, that’s a job. They eat, sleep and drink coupons. According to the book American Wasteland, Americans waste 25% of their groceries a year. This can total up to $2,200 a year. So why spend so much time getting a deal only to waste so much of it?
Keeping up with store policies, expiration dates and rain checks sounds like pure drudgery. Just to throw out 25% of what you bought is not worth it. If that’s someone’s passion or only means of contributing to the household, I understand. But personally it’s not for me or the average person. Here are some other ways to save that don’t waste time or money inspired by Billy Joel songs.
SING US SONG…PIANO MAN
If your family is game for low cost fun and you’re all in the mood for a melody, seek out free entertainment in your area. Patch.com is a great source to keep up with upcoming events nearby. It currently includes 23 states. Check to see if your state participates. It’s an easy way to find inexpensive music (and other) events in your area. Local.com is another resource for fun in your local area. Be sure to type in the words ”free,” “inexpensive” or “cheap” when looking for concerts or other activities. This will help narrow your search and price point.
Always remember the library is your wallet’s best friend. It may sound boring but I like to think of it as a one-stop shop for free and low cost entertainment. Look through free area newspapers and flyers for upcoming events. Many libraries have passes for free admission and discounted rates to museums and area amusement parks. Ours even has a beach pass.
Don’t forget to ask for help. The people in charge of the resources are very resourceful. Think of the librarians as your event planning experts. They may be clued in to information that isn’t readily found or available. Nothing beats good advice that’s also free. Once you leave with a few ideas, pick up some magazines, DVDs, and maybe even a book. Also, be sure to mark the events on your calendar while the information is fresh on your mind. The events will serve as a savings plan built right into your schedule.
SCENES FROM AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Speaking of libraries, you can always check out another kind of library at Wine Library TV. Although Gary Vaynerchuk, the author of the book Crush It, is working on new endeavors, watch past episodes of his wine tastings to gain in-depth knowledge of crushed grapes.
TastingRoom.com offers special promotions every day to save you money on wine. If you get updates from this site, you automatically get exclusive offers, new releases, and 10 dollars off any sampler sent straight to your inbox. So whether you want a bottle of red or a bottle of white, there’s a wide selection to choose from. The site Wine Library features the wines by country and region. So if you’re searching for wine from Spain, Argentina, or Chile, you are readily able to find them. Also, check out Ten Ways Not to Get Ripped Off Buying Wine by Mary Schwager for additional tips.
If you’d like a little food for with your wine, LivingSocial has wonderful deals on area restaurants, attractions, and classes. If you really prefer to dine out without spending too much, purchase one of their many restaurant deals. I paid 10 dollars for a local restaurant deal that serves you tapas, two glasses of wine, and dessert. You can’t even get two Happy Meals at McDonald’s for that price. Some deals can even be emailed as a gift to a special recipient. Updates for different areas and deals you are interested in can be sent straight to your inbox. All you have to do is print the voucher a few minutes before you head out. It sits and waits for you in your email or under the “my vouchers” tab on the website, no organization or stockpiling required.
KEEPING THE FAITH
If you are really looking for something different and creative, why not think outside the decade? Pick a time period and explore pastimes from the past and plan a bunch or activities around that theme. If you happen to pick the 1950’s, maybe you can try hula hooping, shooting marbles, or twisting. Many areas also have free bowling. Check out a free or inexpensive car show. Try to make a root beer float. Johnny Rockets and Sonic are reasonable options too.
If your family is overly attached to modern gadgets and thinks the good ole days weren’t always good, try hobbies that incorporate technology. Check out Bass Pro Shops for free workshops. Be sure to look for your store location. Then go fishing with an app from Apps for Anglers. You can find out real time lake reports, weather conditions, and more for lakes near you. It will also provide information on when, where and how to fish. Geocaching is treasure hunting with a GPS, letterboxing is hiking with a purpose, and then you can always put your kids in Apple Camp for free. The Apple store hosts workshops throughout the summer.
If you still feel pressure to spend on expensive things to do, you don’t all have to do it together. Sometimes my husband and I will have special time with one of our children. If there is something they really want to do that exceeds the limits of our spending plan, we just split off. We’re kicking ourselves for not doing this sooner. There’s less compromise and more meaningful time spent together.
I DON’T KNOW WHY I GO TO EXTREMES
So I said I would never be an extreme couponer but I am extremely happy to get great savings when I shop. Who doesn’t? Like most things in life, moderation is key. So how do you get the extreme savings without scouring fliers, playing with scissors, or dumpster diving? Get the savings sent straight to your inbox. You don’t have to worry about cutting a coupon or seeing if it matches a sale. You pick the ones you want when you are ready to shop. It takes less than ten minutes to print them before you leave. I especially like Double Saving Divas. The coupons are already matched to the flyer. Just make sure the website you sign up for has deals that pertain to your neck of the woods. By couponing as you go, seeking out local free and low cost entertainment, you and your family won’t miss out on savings or enjoyment.