Friday, August 29, 2008

About Me - The Deal Diva

Ok, so you’ve found this blog, and as you begin to read through all these posts about extraordinary money-saving deals, inevitably, you are going to begin to think…”What kind of person is this?”…”Who has the time for this?”…”How can this be true?”….”Where’s the catch?”…and, more specifically, “Does this person have a life???”.

First things first. Before you begin reading these posts, let’s begin with my story, and how I learned to be a deal hunter.

My Story – How I Became “The Deal Diva”

Have you ever heard a story on the evening news about a person that bought an entire shopping cart full of groceries for mere pennies? Or, how about a magazine article featuring a savvy coupon clipper that gets almost everything she buys for free - complete with a photo of her standing in her basement storage room, a beaming glow of accomplishment on her face, as the shelving behind her strains under the weight of rows and rows of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, diapers, and pantry items – all attained for free or dirt cheap? Whenever I saw these stories, I disregarded them as an anomaly. Getting things that cheap must take hours of work – clipping coupons, sorting coupons, searching through store ads, finding coupons from previous weeks, searching online, and aligning the stars.

My first step to becoming a deal hunter began several years ago when I found a local Twin Cities Yahoogroup message board dedicated to sharing deals encountered while shopping in the metro area. At that time, a number of local grocery stores offered double coupon days where they would double an unlimited number of coupons up to a value of $1.00. Members of the group would scan the grocery ads each week and look for deals on grocery items free or cheap. For instance, if there was a $1.00 coupon in the Sunday paper for Crest toothpaste, and the grocery ad has Crest toothpaste on sale for $2.00, the coupon on double coupon day would be worth $2, which would make the toothpaste free. If you had several copies of the coupon, you could get several free tubes of toothpaste. Now, imagine the scenario if you had the $1 coupon and Crest toothpaste were on sale for $1.50. On double coupon day, the coupon would take $2 off your total and the remaining $0.50 credit would go to other groceries you were buying. What if the toothpaste were on sale for $1? You get the picture. I was hooked.

As time went on, I learned a few valuable lessons from the grocery experience:

1) You can only use so much toothpaste! What once was a fun game to see how much money I could save, quickly became a growing problem in our storage space. Our shelves were bulging from floor to ceiling with enough toiletries, dish soap, and spaghetti sauce to cleanse and feed a third world country. When you begin to hide your purchases from houseguests who might stumble upon them and think you’re either nuts or storing up for the apocalypse, you know you may have gone a bit overboard. That’s when I learned that if it’s not something we could use within a short period of time or something we could donate to help those in need, then it’s not really a sensible deal. See “The Diva Motto” on the homepage for more detail.

2) You need to have a life! Spending time clipping and organizing coupons does take time. I am a busy mom and wife with a full-time career in the finance industry - the free-time I have is precious. Fortunately, when I was learning the ropes on deal hunting, I was newly married with no kids. There was plenty of free time to devote to this “hobby” as well as to my hubby. Once our boys came along, things changed dramatically, and suddenly, there was hardly time to make a quick trip to the grocery store for milk, let alone look for coupons. I learned that I had to get smarter in my approach, and I began leveraging the information I found online from fellow couponers and bargain hunters. Over the past few years, several bargain hunting websites, message boards, and blogs have popped up where members provide tips and advice on deals they have found. Some are even organized by store, so that with one quick glace, you can find all the store specific deals. Suddenly, the time it takes to deal hunt is drastically reduced.

3) Give back to others! By far, the most valuable lesson I have learned, is that it is extremely rewarding to help others find deals, particularly those in need. This is done by passing up deals on items that you do not need, leaving plenty of items on the shelf for others (rather than cleaning the store out of the discount item), donating your excess bargain purchases to charity, and posting your success stories online to help others learn how to find great, money-saving deals.

My goal with this blog is not to post every single deal I find so that you can get in on it, too. There are plenty of other sites out there that do just that. Often, deals come and go in a flash, and they can vary by store location. It’s impossible to get in on every deal. My goal with this blog is to provide examples of the types of bargains I have found to help you learn the thought process behind finding deals along with the techniques to recognize deals to help you save money.

Enjoy the ride, as you spin the deal!

1 comment:

Christina said...

Just found you at Money Saving Mom and decided to come over! I'm a MN deal-hunting blogger, too! I am really enjoying your posts - looking forward to reading more from you!