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I'm always looking for a bargain. So when a coworker invited me to a short lesson about clipping coupons to maximize savings at the grocery store I was thrilled. It's not hard to master the basics: Use coupons when items go on sale—especially buy one get one free. Then to maximize the savings, apply two coupons to the item you're paying for. Stock up on the essentials when you see them at their lowest price point and buy enough to sustain you until it's on sale again.
All of this sounds simple enough. For a while I was pumped. I bought boxes of pasta for 10 cents each, frozen pizzas for $2, and enough toilet paper to last my household for five months (for a bargain, of course!). In one shopping trip, I saved $50 and didn't have to go back to the store for another month. I was on a shopping induced high. Before long I was spending hours scouring the Web for deals, arguing with the person at the cash register over a coupon that should have doubled, and fussing at my husband for throwing away a perfectly good coupon for a hair cut I didn't even need. It only took a few trips to the store to turn me into a deal-hunting monster.
Then it dawned on me. Not only was I becoming so obsessed with pinching pennies that I was beginning to be stressed out about the smallest purchase and wasting hours trying to optimize every cent, I also didn't feel great about the products I was buying and the companies I was supporting. I could save as much money (probably more) by using fewer paper towels as opposed to waiting for a sale, stocking up on Sunday papers, and hoarding enough in my garage for the next year. And it doesn't save much time to spend hours looking for coupons for convenient frozen pizza—I could just skip the coupons and make a healthier meal from scratch instead.
The epiphany reminded me of a realization I'd had on my yoga mat a long time ago. I might be spending more time, effort, and money on yoga than many people would, but the investment is well worth it because it contributes to my long-term health and well being. There are just some things in life that are worth every ounce of energy (both physically and monetarily) you put into them. Cutting corners (or coupons) just won't give you the outcome you're seeking, no matter how hard you try. You choose what's important to you in life—I've decided to choose a lifestyle where healthy choices takes priority over my bank account. (But I'll still snatch up every Groupon deal I see for discounted yoga classes.)
What things do you splurge on in the name of health and harmony?