Maybe 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 spend one to two hours each week (clipping, sorting, and shopping) to save an average of $60 – $80 each week. Now I don't know about you, but for me making $30 to $40 per hour for something I have to do anyways is a pretty decent hourly rate!
(See an idea of what my grocery trips look like HERE – you can also read more about our family's 2015 grocery budget HERE.)
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, 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 Kroger, and supplement my trips with a quick Fresh Thyme, Aldi's, Sam's Club run for milk & fresh produce, but that's it. (I really do love a good CVS or Walgreens trip, but only do those when the deals are fantabulous!) 🙂
- 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 Kroger (even another Kroger 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 Kroger and you're a Publix or Meijer shopper, odds are that deal will come to those stores 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 to make my life easier, I take advantage of our 10 Minute or Less Printable coupon list (we have them for Target, Kroger and Publix), and head to the store. It's an easy way to manage my love of saving even with limited time, and really works for me (which is why Shannon works so hard to put them together for all of us to use!) Also, be sure to take advantage of e-coupons as those are just an easy way to save.
- 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!) Over the last few years 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?) If all else fails, determine to really shop the sales ad. (That alone is a huge savings!)
- 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.)
New to couponing? Start out by checking out all our store coupon matchups over HERE, and also take a minute to visit my beginners series over HERE.
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I am sorry if someone did not respect the work that you are doing. I do not have a choice but to cut back. I am the only one working for my family. I am also recovering from emergency open heart surgery and the doctor bills are killing my budget. My meds alone each month are very expensive. I can use all the help I can get when it comes to saving money. I am currently learning to cook from scratch and we have plans to utilize some of our yard space for a garden this spring. So if you have ideas on how to save $5.00 I am all about it.
Elizabeth Frazier says
Love everything you do. You are so encouraging and positive. I am a retired widow and am trying to get started .. Wish me luck ..with your help I’m sure I can do this ! Elizabeth
felicia vallese says
I have been couponing for almost 40 years.I am still finding when I go to the store with a totally FREE coupon,it always says (limit—).And of course,there are times when the store’s price is over the limit.So,in fact,the item is not FREE. What I do is write to the company and explain this.I usually get a check for the difference and maybe some more coupons,maybe even another FREE one.
Love that – great tip Felicia!
I really thank you for all that you do. I am a working mom to 5 teens. They eat a lot to say the very lest. Couponing is hard work. If it wasn’t hard everyone would be doing it. It takes a lot of time. However I have found that with my stock pile I do not have to shop all the time. I keep a list of what I have. Make my menu plan a key to all of this I have to say. Make my list pull my coupons and go to it. I do not keep a coupon binder any more. I have a little coupon envelope. I will put my coupon inserts into a folder and after my list is made I will go to a coupon database to find out which insert they are in. This has saved me soooo much time. I have been serious about couponing over the last 2 years. Before I would only shop sales and use what coupons I had. Now I read the blogs and get a better bang for my buck. I say if they don’t want to spend the time then don’t. I look at every coupon as 1.00 it all adds up. Couponing has helped me save so much and my hubby and I sure see it every month. FYI my grocery budget for 7 people is 100. per week. Some weeks I don’t even use all of it. My mother in law refuses to use coupons and she spends 350.00 for 6 people.
Thanks so much for sharing Sara – love hearing how couponing works for you (I really do think it’s so worth it!)
I love your site and all the extra add-ins like DIY projects – Videos. Thank you for your hard work on our behalf. I agree that to coupon is to work at your own pace and within your budget. I have couponed several years and, in the beginning, would be so frustrated to find good deals and not be able to take advantage. But, my thought today is “do what you can, when you can”. Couponing is a worthwhile effort whether you save $1, $10, or $100. Remember the parable of the Talents. Be Faithful in what little you have! God Bless !
Thank you so much Beryl for such wise advice! We can all just do what we can – those are wonderful reminders. Thank you for sharing!
Laurie, I think a lot of people have an “all or nothing” attitude about coupons. They think if they can’t save a huge amount, it’s not worth it. You and I both know that $5 is $5 and if they saw a $5 on the ground, they WOULD pick it up. It’s no different when it’s so easy. Like you, I spend an hour or two going to different sites to get the deals and print coupons out and looking at my ads to plan what I will buy. Who doesn’t have one hour out of 168 to even do a little bit? Now, I do belong to 2 bulletin boards and read three different blogs, but still 3 hours is an unusual week for me.
I don’t know about anyone else, but my purchases would be very different and far less if I didn’t use coupons.