Strategic Shopping: You DO Have Enough Time To Clip Coupons (I Promise!), But You DON’T Have To Do Everything

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Probably like a few of you out there, I have a teensy-tiny couponing pet-peeve.  Over (and over, and over. . .) I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to coupon.  They work, have busy families, spend time driving kiddos to every activity in town, so couponing just can’t happen.  I get that.  Really, I do.

 

However, I spent one hour, from start to finish (clipping, sorting, and shopping), to save 69% tonight at Publix. (Total spent was $21.49 for $68 worth of groceries.) Now, I don’t work outside of our home, but I do spend more hours than I care to admit sharing deals with you guys. :)  I also have three busy kids (who really do go to just about every activity in town), a home to (somewhat!) keep up with, meals to prepare, and a hubby to take care of. (Okay, truth is he doesn’t require much care and he’s an amazing help to me!)

 

Before I started PPP, I spent hours hunting down every deal in town, easily saved 70-90% on every grocery trip and shopped at least 3-4 days a week.  But the reality is, I can’t do that these days, and something has to give.  So, here are a few tips that I use to pinch a penny when I’m also in a pinch for time (which is just about all the time!)

 

 

  1. Determine the very best store to use coupons at in your area.  Believe it or not, you don’t need to hit every drug store, grocery store & supermarket in town to coupon well.  I typically shop each week at Publix, and supplement my trips with a quick Aldi’s or Sam’s Club run for milk & fresh produce, but that’s it.  (I really do love a good CVS trip, but have only gone once for Black Friday in the last few months!)
  2. Learn exactly where things are in that store, and organize your coupons before you shop.  If you send me to a grocery store other than my normal Publix (even another Publix in town!), my stress level goes way up. Seriously.  I also tend to save less, because I’m not sure where things are at, and am tempted to look at things I don’t need!  By knowing your store well, you’ll find deals you need, skip over the ones you don’t need, and get through the store pretty quickly (a huge time saver!)  And, most items go on sale at a decent price on a 6-8 week rotation at all grocery stores, so if it’s on sale this week at Publix and you’re a Kroger shopper, odds are that deal will come to Kroger next week!
  3. Use good coupon matchup websites!  As you probably know, there are zillions of coupon blogs and websites out there for you to choose from.  Trying to coupon on your own without help is just crazy when so many folks do hours of work for you!  Choose your store (click on “Store Deals” at the top of PPP), find the deals on your favorite coupon site (I hope it’s Passionate Penny Pincher!), and make sure to read through all the deals at your favorite store before you shop.
  4. Print your coupons.  My coupon binder is a mess right now.  There are coupons everywhere, I have at least 15 inserts that need to be clipped, and I’m not sure there will be any time to fix it real soon.  But I also have a home that needs some Christmas decorating, a few children that need dinner, and a to-do list that’s a mile long.  So tonight, I checked out the Publix deals, printed the coupons that worked with the sale ad, and didn’t use a single coupon from an insert.  (It just wasn’t going to happen, but it’s really okay . . . maybe next week I’ll get my act together!)
  5. Recognize your limitations.  For the longest time when I started using coupons, I was incredibly competitive and wanted to coupon better than anyone else. (I don’t even know who I was comparing myself to!)  Recently though, I’ve realized that my time is valuable too, so if I save $50 in an hour (or almost $47, like I did tonight), that’s enough for me.  If I spend an extra hour or two running all over town to save an extra $2-$3, my “per hour” rate goes way down, which just isn’t worth it to me at this point!  So, determine how much time you want to spend, save as much as you can during that time, and LET. IT. GO. (Really!)
  6. Decide to do it.  I know that there are some of you out there who truly don’t have an hour to spend stressing over coupons each week, and if that’s you, I really do understand.  But, if you do have an hour or two each week to shop, go ahead, decide to save, and do the best you can with the time you’ve been given.  (You’ve got to go to the grocery store anyways, so why not do it with a plan in place?)
  7. Don’t get overwhelmed because other folks on TV do it better than you.  Do the best you can do.  Save what you can save, and don’t worry about what anyone else does.  A penny saved truly is a penny earned, whether it be $20 worth of pennies or $200 worth of pennies!  (And, much of what you see on TV isn’t ”reality TV” in any way:  so do not compare yourself to that.)
Are they ever going to put me on TLC’s Extreme Couponing?  Nope.  Do I care?  Absolutely not!  I saved 69% on my grocery bill, got items that we really do need, and did it all in an hour.  I’m pretty happy with that!  And yes, it’s definitely fun to have one crazy amazing grocery coupon trip.  But, my bill was $21.49 tonight, I saved $46.93, and it took me an hour.  Woohoot!

 

So, now that my rant is over (aren’t you glad that’s through?), I’d love to hear how YOU did at the grocery store this week.  You can also see how other folks are saving at Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom,Weekly Totals at I Heart Publix, and Friday Finals at Southern Savers.

 

New to couponing? Start out by checking out all Publix matchups over HERE, and also take a minute to visit this week’s top Kroger deals and Drug Store Deals.  You can also check out my beginners series over HERE.

 

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Comments

  1. Faith Conaway says:

    great insight! I think many people get so competitive – they miss the point! Do what is best for your family – that is the goal anyway correct? I usually shop at CVS and Walmart (price matching) about twice a month, sams once a month, and publix 3 to 4 times a month. I spent $4000 LESS on groceries this calendar year since I took up couponing! and I do it in less than 2 hours a week. that is DEFINITELY worth it for me. ANd yes, I am busy. I have a husband who works up to 80 hours a week, I work 32 outside the home, and we have 3 little girls who keep up very busy. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Laurie says:

      You guys are busy Faith! I love that you still find time to do it (three little girls are work in themselves – my girls are ten times the work that my boy is!) Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  2. I do the same things you do. I feel since I’m doing all of those things listed above (kids, house, husband, etc); saving 50% on my grocery bill is great! If I don’t get at least 50%, I get bummed. I usually hit that 50% mark, so that’s good enough for me!!

  3. helen says:

    You can go to publix.com and put in your zip code, pick out the store and go to the weekly ad, it prints out your list and the aisles they are on, I do it every time i shop at publix’ hope this helps, it sure helps me I just put my coupons in order by aisles.

  4. Brandi says:

    I have found myself going a little overboard sometimes with couponing. It’s so funny how I used to just grab the things I needed without regard to the price because it was something I had to have (deoderant, vitamins, laundry detergent, etc.), but now I over-analyze every purchase wondering if things will be cheaper somewhere else or if a better sale will run next week or if I could have found a coupon online.
    I have cut back on my time couponing lately and have pretty much cut out the drugstores (except on Thanksgiving Day, and that was so fun!!!) I just pulled all of my November grocery receipts out of my binder last night and had more than I care to mention, but only 2 for Walmart, which was a major goal for me…less time at Wal-mart. I find that if I go into Publix or Kroger with a list, I stick to that list more or less. That is just not the case at Walmart, so the fewer times I go there, the better! I know that I definitely couldn’t have had the success I have had without the help of PPP, so thanks for all you do!!!

  5. alice smith says:

    I make about 2 trips a week to Publix and 1 to Aldi’s (for eggs, milk, and bread). Other than that, I”m pretty much done for the week. If I can save at least 50%, I’m happy (and of course, stay within my budget). I have found that with my 3 kids growing, I have had to increase my budget. We are big eaters! I agree with Brandi. I couldn’t have done it without your help. I’m still so thankful that Chase was on James’ team, otherwise, I would’ve never have met you and wouldn’t have done this couponing craze. Thanks so much Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      We’re so lucky to have met you Alice! And, you are one AMAZING couponer…. in fact I thought of you last night when I was writing this b/c I know that you really do get all those deals that I miss these days :) Thanks for your encouragement!

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