This weekend I snagged on a good deal on a roasting pan. It was on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond for $20 with a $10 mail-in rebate. In addition, I was able to use one of their $5 of $15 coupons on the purchase. That will bring my total cost down to $6.46 (including tax) for an 18” roasting pan with rack. If you want one, the rebate goes through 12/31/2010. It was a fantastic deal, but I only jumped on it because I knew it was the right time.

When Is a Good Deal Worth It?
I don’t jump on every good deal that comes my way. For example, this week I’m snapping up deals on Coke, vegetable oil, peanut butter, and Tums. Last week it was tomato sauce and a roasting pan. However, I don’t jump every time I see a deal. For example, a few weeks ago Cost Plus had ceramic rectangular baking pan for $10. Not a bad price, but not worth buying because I already have a ceramic baking pan.

Here are my guidelines for jumping on a good deal:

Immediate necessity. I don’t actually need the pan this week, but I know I will need it soon. So, it passes the first test.

Repeated use potential. This is a roasting pan, so I know I will use it repeatedly. I see lots of good deals in Target ads that would be fun to have, but they might not be things I’d get a lot of use out of, so I don’t rush out to buy them.

Not duplicative. If I’d jumped on the ceramic baking pan deal, I would have been duplicating something I already had, in fact something I’d bought just two weeks earlier. While I already have a roasting pan, it’s not a good one. This year, my family came to my house for Thanksgiving and my mom had to bring her roasting pan with her. She inherited her pan from my grandmother, but obviously that’s not likely to happen in my case for another 20-30 years, too long to wait for a roasting pan that actually fits a turkey.

Will be used quickly. This one applies to food. I only buy enough of a good deal that I’ll be able to use it all before it expires. I use a lot of peanut butter, so I always snag those deals.

When Is a Good Deal Not Worth It?
The primary time when a good deal isn’t worth it is when it’s not really that good a deal. It might seem like a deal, but if you follow prices, you know it’s really not. For example, at Christmas, I got 40 rolls of toilet paper for $10. That was a good deal at my local stores. I’ve also seen deals where the toilet paper would have been $15 – not quite as good a deal because I know it will go lower.

If it’s something you don’t need and don’t have a use for, then it’s also not a good deal. The ceramic baking pan is an example. I needed one, so I bought one I liked at a good price. I didn’t need two, so I didn’t buy a second one.

There is also the issue of storage. When I lived in an apartment, it wouldn’t have been as easy to stock up on the toilet paper deal. I probably still would have, because I could stuff it into various crannies, but I probably would have held off on the roasting pan due to storage problems. If you don’t have room for the stuff you buy, then it’s not a good deal.

Finding Deals that Are Good for You
I carry a little notebook with my everywhere. One of the items in that notebook is a list of things I need to buy for my house or for myself. Then, every Sunday I check out the weekly ads for the stores I know are likely to carry those items. I quickly scan for items on my lists. If I see a good deal, I add the store and the item to my weekly to do list. If there’s a coupon for the item, I put it in the pocket at the back of the notebook. By comparing my list to the ads, I’m less tempted to jump on deals that don’t really work for me.

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