Tuesday, February 18, 2014

True to my couponing self

I guess it should have been no surprise to me that once I was back in an English-speaking country, my interest in couponing and deal-finding would escalate once again.

As some of you know, my self in San Diego was completely stuck on coupons and trying new adventures through avenues like Groupon and LivingSocial. I was buying these deals so frequently that my schedule was always packed with something new. It was great. A cheap way to experience the things I'd always been curious about - pole dancing classes, learning to fly a helicopter (and actually flying it myself), learning to fence, murder mystery dinners (I still absolutely love these), skydiving the first time, experiencing scuba diving, getting feathers strung into my hair, getting discounted cakes, restaurants, and even money off goods, like a canvas printed with an artistic interpretation of my DNA.

It was to the point where I used to buy an annual coupon book (called the Entertainment Book) and keep track of my savings. I even brought coupons to corporate lunches where I wasn't paying, just so the company could save money and I would use the coupons I had available. I thought to myself, "well someone should take advantage of this deal, even if it's not me."

Couponing and discounting were a big part of my everyday life. If I was going to eat out or get something for a special occasion, you can bet I almost never paid full price.

I saw it as a game more than anything else. Like beating the system. A sort of superiority thing as well, admittedly: I'd shake my head in disappointment at people who didn't bother doing small amounts of research to save their hard-earned cash. America is after all, a nation in debt.

But when I moved to Finland this all changed: though there was still Groupon, it was all in Finnish, and there was no easy way at the time to translate the deals they were offering. After signing up for the email newsletter and trying to figure out things via the pictures, I gave up. Finland is not a nation of couponers or discounters. Everything is expensive there (except rent and utilities), and I just accepted this.

Admittedly I just made my life as streamline as possible, which included things like dropping my grocery shopping to once every 2-3 weeks, buying alcohol in other countries and having pre-party drinks at my apartment so my girlfriends and I wouldn't have to buy expensive drinks at the bars we were going to, even bringing back food from other countries to save on groceries.

I guess this was my mental way of coping with the fact that discounts didn't exist. Another game to strategize and plan within. The sales that Finland did have were minimal and not very good (like the crazy days/yellow bag sales at Stockmann, which gave customers maybe 5% off normal price...that's not a sale in my opinion).

Anyway, when I moved to London I continued my Finnish way of life until I was comfortable enough to expand on it: I still only grocery shop every 2-3 weeks, but it's been 75% replaced by my shopping at the farmers market. Finland had impressed upon me the need for organic, local food. Made me into a green monster. And almost vegetarian (though I've thought about it enough to realize that I will never be completely vegetarian...it just won't happen).

Hilariously the catalyst to get back into couponing and discount deal-shopping in my life started with Rhinda's wedding. As I explained in my post about the singing classes, I was going to be forced to sing karaoke. So I decided I should get some singing lessons to make myself more comfortable; master something I didn't have in my skill set.

I'd been getting Amazon Local deals in my email for awhile; after ordering my glorious heated mattress pad from them, they started sending me local deals. I'd scanned them a few times previously but nothing caught my eye; I was still too much in the Finnish frame of mind of not spending, saving my money, only spending on things that I really wanted or needed.

So I bought nothing. Until I spotted the singing lessons deal and remembered my promise to myself. I did the appropriate research on classes and travel times, etc, and decided to buy it.

Little did I realize this would open the landslide of interest in myself in finding good deals to more adventures. I've started to scan my Groupon and Amazon Local deal emails with a fervor that has even overpowered my interest in reading my Facebook newsfeed in the mornings. I read deal emails instead.

Two has admitted to me that she has the same fever. Since she's funemployed she has even more time to find good deals, and use them. I now know how she got onto the events-finding search that she does and gives me the benefit from. It's even two-fold advantageous to me because she's only looking for really good money-saving deals, not having a lot of spending cash. Yes and yes.

Well, since finding the singing lessons I've quickly (in the same two week span), also bought myself a massage as celebration for turning in my grad school application, then soon after was considering more adventurous things, like a 12-week consecutive course in learning German. Or a makeup mastering class. And a 1950's photo shoot. And have even considered things like haircuts at various places since I don't know when the next trip to my home city in California will be, where I normally get my haircut by the same guy everytime. There was even some thought put into teeth whitening sessions and krav maga self defense classes. Useful in my life, I thought to myself. So many things I could improve upon!

I've done a good job so far of only buying things I know would benefit my life directly. Singing classes, massage, and the makeup mastering class. That last one was bought because I feel I should probably learn how to put on and wear makeup like an adult, sometime in my life. I'm already into my late 20's...all real girls that I know already know how to do this, even some of the men I'm friends with. I still am tragically behind. Sigh.

But a constant battle goes on inside of me as I look over the emails everyday (several times a day, since they are a constant pour of information) and wonder what kind of awesome adventures could be happening in my life all the time. And for cheaper than their normal retail price.

So here's to returning to my deal-finding self and feeling a little more comfortable in my now-city. I am feeling better about London already. And how things are, despite the stress I feel from work and my grad application.

Thanks Amazon Local and Groupon, for making me feel a little more myself again.



As a side note: I know there are other deal sites and these are not the only ones (e.g. Facebook deals, Google deals, etc). I am holding off with the hope that by limiting my exposure I will also buy less. I feel Two has a good cap on all the real deals going on in the city anyhow (and out of the city, sometimes), so I'll rely on her to point out anything I'm missing. We've already had the intimate conversation where we talk about deals we're interested in, where they overlap, and whether something is really a good deal or not.

I love my friends. And deals.

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