Because I have a fairly obsessive, compulsive personality, happen to be super competitive, and enjoy getting a bargain, a lot of people ask me why I am not an extreme couponer. Here’s a few reasons:
- It takes too much time. Have you watched the Extreme Couponing show? Aside from the hours they spend clipping and organizing coupons and planning their shopping trips, they spend most of an entire day on a single shopping trip!
- I don’t have an extra room in my house that I could convert into a storeroom and once my teenager goes off to college, I won’t have a need to stock up on deodorant and body wash.
- I try to eat pretty healthy and there are rarely coupons for the fresh produce and meat that fill my cart. I don’t want to make a meal out of ketchup, macaroni and cheese, and Pillsbury biscuits (although I just had a flash of how my kids will be eating in college).
- I’m too set in my ways to change my entire way of living, meal planning, and shopping. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google “couponing tips for beginners” and you will find hundreds of sites walking you through the lifestyle change you must undergo to become an efficient coupon user (e.g. plans your meals around what’s on sale and what you have coupons for, creating a stockpile, shop multiple stores—did I mention these were the tips for beginners???).
- I’m not willing to engage in battle with the cashier to debate the store policy on stacking coupons so that I can save an extra 40 cents. I’m not really non-confrontational, but I like to save my debating energy for things that REALLY matter to me (like school policies that affect my children or defending the character of a friend).
So, I’m not going to become an extreme couponer. However, I do have a teenage son whose smart enough that he will probably get accepted to a really good, expensive college and because he is a white, male from a middle class family, will be limited in terms of what types of scholarships and grants he can try to get. As a result, I’ve been looking at all my options for scrimping and saving a few extra dollars here and there. It turns out that non-extreme couponing is the happy middle ground between shopping with wild abandon and devoting every spare moment of my life and extra square inch in my home to extreme coupon shopping.
For those of you who are like me and would like to save money without making a full-time job out of the endeavor, here are a few tips and strategies I have stumbled upon.
- Call your grocery stores and find out if they double coupons, and if they do, on which days. This only takes a few minutes to do and unless your schedule is set in stone, isn’t it worth it to adjust your shopping day back or forward a day to save double?
- Print the coupons online after you’ve made your shopping list. This way, you’re not printing coupons for items you weren’t planning to buy. Here are the sites I use:
- Then go to SavingStar.com and select more coupons there.
- At SavingStar, you can add all of your grocery store savings/rewards cards. Select your coupons online before you go to the store and they will automatically be credited at the register when the cashier scans your store card.
- Military shoppers, go to deca.couponselectionpage.com/offers to choose your commissary coupons.
- Another site that allows you to do this is shortcuts.com. They also have printable coupons available. The only reason I don’t use this site is that none of my local grocery stores are listed with them.
- Clip any coupons you have from other sources (e.g. Sunday paper, mail), but again only for items that are on your list.
- Take the few extra minutes to either put the coupons in order of how you walk through your grocery store or sort them into a coupon organizer. It doesn’t have to be fancy–I picked one up from the dollar bin at Target. That way you can easily access each coupon as you work through your list, because you don’t want to miss the $1.00 savings because you bought 3 cans of soup, instead of the 4 required to use the coupon.
Okay, I realize this looks like a time commitment and some work. I promise you though that I have used this for my last few shopping trips and each time it took less than an hour, and each time you do it you get a little more efficient at it. My goal is to get it down to 20 minutes. Since my average savings is $20, I figure $1/minute is a good return on my invested time. It may not sound like much, but $20/week x 52 weeks = $1040/year. Start couponing now and you can fund your Christmas shopping with your grocery savings!
For even more great advice on how to slash your grocery budget, check out Money Saving Mom’s Series: 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. It’s a treasure trove of helpful information to help you hang on to more of your money while continuing to feed your family the same great food you’re feeding them now. It was the article that inspired me to start using coupons and might just convince me to give up a couple of shelves in the laundry room to a SMALL stockpile.