Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Works for Me Wednesday: Cutting Myself Deals

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another "Works for Me Wednesday" tip, as hosted by the blog carnival at We Are THAT Family. See this week's Works for Me Wednesday here.

I often must contend with two sides of my personality: the "Ooooo must try NOW!" side, and the frugal side. Obviously the instant-gratification personality is at odds with the frugal side (not to mention our budget), so I kind of keep the instant gratification side in check by cutting myself deals.

Here's an example: I see a delicious-looking recipe online. Said recipe involves an ingredient that I don't have. For instance, in the past couple of weeks or so I saw a tidbit on how to make your own authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce. Since I love stir-fry-style meals that come together quickly, I thought, "Ooooo must try NOW!" But - the recipe called for mirin (sweet rice wine), which I do not have. My cabinet is packed with couponed condiments, including bottled (not-so-authentic) teriyaki sauce. I cut myself a deal: Once you finish using all of the bottled teriyaki in the pantry, you can buy mirin at the best possible price, unless there's a major deal in the interrim.

Now, by "best possible", I mean I would still bargain hunt - checking local Asian grocers' prices against those on Amazon, for instance.

So, why is this little habit one I've found worth forming?
  • It delays gratification. Like the "Eat from the Pantry" challenge we did in January, this is just a great exercise in and of itself in terms of building patience and discipline.

  • It still promises gratification if the desire persists long-term. This makes the established delay easier to tolerate at the moment that I want to purchase the item. Instead of "No", it's "Not now", so I can get over the hump and move on.

  • Postponing the purchase for a not-too-specific future date means that it will probably be long after I finish the bottled teriyaki sauce that I remember my "deal" with myself - if I remember it at all. After all, I'm not going to go from cooking a weeknight dinner with the last of the teriyaki sauce - straight to the grocery store for some mirin!

  • There's a decent possibility that in the interim, I'll find a coupon, sale, or other special involving the desired item, whereas had I purchased it immediately instead of cutting myself a deal, I would have paid too much.
In other words, putting a "deal-ay" between my desire to buy something and its possible purchase is a great way to save myself some money and teach myself some patience, without total deprivation.

Do you cut yourself deals? What are your deal-cutting strategies?
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Ebates and Swagbucks are both easy ways to earn rewards while doing what you normally do - web-searching through Google and shopping for bargains online!

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