I have been thinking a lot about the way I shop. Any way I slice it we need food and other products like shampoo and soap. A $0.75 off coupon looks good but does it really add up? I have been couponing for a little over four months now and found my feelings went something like this:
Month One– Excitement but little actualized savings
Month Two– Less excitement and a few good deals
Month Three– Tired of organizing and feeling like it’s pointless
Month Four– Things click and you start seeing essentials stock up
So my advice as a coupon newbie myself is to stick with it. At first it feels like a huge time commitment. To be honest, it is, at first. Any time you are learning a new skill you’ll start slow then fine tune your new art form over time. At first, I wanted to “coupon” only once a week. Then months two and three I didn’t want to mess with it at all so I waited a few weeks in between clipping coupons. Now, I spend a little time each day on it. What I am realizing is that there are several approaches to being frugal with coupons. Try them all and see what makes sense for you. When I went a few weeks in between clipping coupons I noticed it took a while to clip them all in one sitting and that was not very manageable. Now that I do a little almost every day I can do just that, a little. I can see settling into a few minutes two or three times a week. I still really like scanning the ads and circling in marker store deals that jump out at me and then clipping coupons accordingly. I have made a change though, now I clip coupons that I would use if the price is REALLY good. Sometimes the stars align and things are free or nearly so. If you have coupons to go along with a screaming store deal or a clearance item you can get it for pennies. If it’s something useful but not necessarily something you want/need you can add it to the box of things to donate to the local food bank!
If you tried couponing and found it was super tedious and time-consuming then quit, but wish you didn’t, then I encourage you to reconsider your approach. Could it be tweaked to fit your needs? Now that I am saving so darn much, I cannot stand the idea of paying full price for anything except organic produce. It actually bothers me that others are spending so much when I know they could save too. I see savings of 60% to 80% regularly! Two weeks ago I planned my shopping trip so I only bought what we needed from the stores that were running a special. It took two hours to go to the different stores and get everything. You know what? I saved $90.00! Instead of paying $240 I paid $150 for everything. Essentially paying myself $45 an hour to buy groceries. So yes, it took time. Grocery shopping always does. But, for me with couponing, time is money made. :0)
p.s. If you get to a store and find the products you have coupons for are out of stock ask for a rain check. This will extend the store deal 30 days for you so you can come back and get it when they restock. I just did this at Albertson’s because they ran out of Barilla pasta. The store deal was buy 10 and pay $0.49 each! That is such a good price. And I noticed a perk to buying after they restock. The store deal pushes product off the shelves and when they restock you get newer product.
Dear Jesus, it seems to me that sticking with new skills pays off. Too bad it’s so tempting to quit before it gets good. Thank you that we are seeing results. It is fun to see we can make full meals now off everything we’ve bought frugally. Thank you. Amen.