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Discount Diva: Savings shaved by ‘deal’ reality

You’ve probably been there. I know I’ve been there more than once. You do something frugal, only to have it come back and bite you right in the butt.

It might be something you think will save you some money, something you think will earn you some money, or something you think will keep you from losing money. Whatever it was, it didn’t pay off. Worse, it backfired.

One instance still raises my blood pressure when I think of it. My friend Erin found this great hack where, if you bought two Venus Swirl razors and one can of Venus shaving cream from Walgreens, you would get a $10 gift certificate on the register tape that printed out with your receipt. There was a buy-two-get-one coupon that week, so everything cost less than $10. I was supposed to end up with free razors and shaving cream, and get a couple of dollars back.

Well, I accidentally let my $10 gift certificate expire. So, I didn’t get free toiletries, and I certainly didn’t get cash back. What I did was spend $7 on luxurious razors I would have never otherwise splurged on. Oh, and I don’t even use shaving cream. (Since it was technically free with the coupon, I indulged.)

Here are some other frugal you moves you may regret.

• Not valuing your time properly. Every summer for probably 75 years, my grandma performed the hot, arduous task of canning the tomatoes from her garden. When I asked her to teach me how to do it, she said, “Why the heck do you want to can tomatoes? You can buy them at the store for 85 cents.”

She figured my time was worth more than whatever money I might save sweating over jars in my kitchen.

• Paying off your mortgage early. It seems like a good idea. The earlier you pay off your mortgage, the less you pay in interest. But according to the experts, you’ll make out better if you pay your mortgage normally and invest that extra money. You might double your returns – or better. There are also tax benefits you might lose once your mortgage is gone.

• Buying things on sale. “Wow! This blender is 55 percent off! I know I already have a blender, but if I buy this one, I’ll save 85 percent!” Yes, but if you don’t buy the blender, you’ll save 100 percent.

• Going with the lowest price. Nowhere will this smack you in the face sooner than on Search for what you want and filter your results by price from lowest to highest. Want to guess how many times I bought the cheapest knockoff and regretted it? Never again.

• Signing up for retailer emails and text alerts. I used to suggest that people do this, because it’s a way to get your hands on coupons and even freebies sometimes.

But realistically, what ends up happening is you open those emails and there are all these lovely photos of the latest gadgets, housewares, fashions. You decide you’ll just take a peek, but then all of a sudden you have a dress in your cart. But it’s OK because you have a 30 percent-off coupon and the dress is really pretty and you’ll probably need to wear it to a wedding sometime anyway. And that’s how you end up spending $45 out of nowhere on something you totally didn’t need (and which you didn’t even wear to the wedding).

They’re a temptation. Out of sight, out of mind. Sure, you might miss a coupon, but your overall savings will likely be greater.

What was your Walgreens coupon moment? Tweet me @DiscountDivaSam, message me at or email

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