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Monday, August 18, 2008

Deal or No Deal?

I was standing in line at CVS today (surprise, surprise!) and the lady checking out in front of me was using coupons and ECBs! YEAH for her! I felt a quiet little kinship with her. I didn't say anything, but it was nice to see others taking advantage of the wonderful deals offered by CVS.

Then she swiped her card (not sure if it was credit or debit). The card was declined, and she ended up using another card. The whole episode got me thinking. When do you pass up a deal, even if it's an excellent deal? Is there such a thing as a "deal too good to pass up"?

My husband and I used to use our credit cards on a regular basis. We didn't purchase everything with them, but we fell into the pay-for-it-later trap. We'd make a purchase, planning on paying off the bill the next time one of us got paid. Then the paycheck would come and go, and we wouldn't have the amount we needed to pay the bill in full. Of course we have always made our monthly payments on time, but we were living above our means.

We began to change that habit about a year and a half ago. I read Dave Ramsey's newest best-seller, My Total Money Makeover. We had started on Dave's plan a few years before and then gotten sidetracked when he was no longer on our local radio station. (There's something to be said for hearing sound advice every day. It sticks with you!) Now we're back on track and only have two small debts to pay off. We're also saving cash to purchase a van to replace our two quickly-dying cars.

That said, my philosophy is that you can pass up a good deal... especially when you can't pay cash for it. I don't know what happened to the lady in front of me today. Maybe there was just some defect in her debit card. That's happened to the best of us! But maybe she didn't have the cash available for her deals. That makes them lousy deals.

Saving money should alleviate stress, not add to it. Who needs a stockpile when you can't pay your electric bill? Granted, shopping wisely is good stewardship. It should allow you to have extra cash for other essentials or for a little splurging in other areas. Let's just make sure that our deals are blessing us, not stressing us.