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!)
- 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!)
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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!)
- 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?)
- 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.)