Q&A Tuesday: How much time do you spend clipping coupons and bargain shopping?

I wondered what your time investment is, very roughly, that you spend per week deal-hunting and clipping coupons. Could you comment in an upcoming post? It would be so interesting to hear your commentary. -Emily

Great question, Emily!

As I recently alluded to, I’ve streamlined things a great deal in the last six months. And to be completely honest, I feel like I’m not as organized as I once was about things. (Of course, this is true in just about every area of my life and I believe that it’s just the reality of having three young children. I had to give up on perfect or even close to perfect and settle for “good enough!”)

We’re not using as many coupons these days as we’re sticking more to whole foods and simple recipes, but I still clip a fairly large amount of coupons — especially for health and beauty products.

I don’t have a perfect system in place for this, but it usually works something like this:

Throughout the week, as hot printable coupons become available, I immediately print those I’m pretty certain I’ll use and stick them in my coupon box, unclipped. I also stick in any coupons which come in the mail (or the entire All You magazine when it comes!).

Putting all these coupons in my coupon box means that they are in a safe place, but I’m not having to stop everything and clip and file them numerous times throughout the week.

We usually go over to my family’s house on Sunday afternoons, so I lug my coupon box there and spend some of the time while visiting clipping and organizing the coupons which have piled up over the week. Since I often get multiple inserts, I stack them in like piles and then clip in bulk. This saves a lot of time clipping and filing.

While I’m filing, I go ahead and put coupons in the individual store envelopes I keep in my coupon box which I know will make for a good deal at a particular store. For instance, the $1/1 any Tide coupons from the P&G inserts don’t ever get filed; they just go straight into my Target coupon envelope because I know that Target always sells the travel packs of Tide for $1.04 and $0.04 per travel pack is the cheapest I’m going to find Tide.

I usually spend no more than 45 minutes on this, often less, but it happens while the conversation and family time is taking place so it’s not requiring any additional time, it’s just utilizing a weekly time slot when my brain is busy but my hands are free.

Other than that time, I also try to set aside 15 to 20 minutes each week to plan a simple menu, browse the weekly grocery sales fliers and devise my grocery shopping list and plan. If there are some really amazing deals at multiple stores, I’ll check my schedule to see if I can squeeze in an extra quick grocery trip. If the deals are pathetic, then I’ll either skip shopping, just go to Aldi or have Jesse pick up some basics on his way home from work.

All totaled, I average around 2 to 2.5 hours on grocery shopping, planning and coupon-clipping throughout the week. Occasionally, I’ll have extra time and energy and I’ll do a big stock-up trip or coupon shopping trip and then I might spend as much as 3 to 4 hours in a week’s time. And then there are weeks when I don’t even touch my coupon box or step foot in a store!

What about the rest of you? How much time do you spend deal-hunting and coupon-clipping?

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Comments

  1. Andrea says

    One hour everyday in the stores. It may sound crazy but I do have 2 kids in school and it’s my little me time. :-) As for coupon clipping, I clip them when playing FB games (they sometimes take forever to load!) or when my kids are doing their daily 20 mins reading.

    • says

      @Andrea, When I get to go the store without my kids I consider it my me time too! My husband always asks when I get home what took me so long and instead of telling him that I took my dear sweet time I tell him that the store was packed. I love my kids but it is so nice to be able to concentrate on my shopping list and trying to scope out unadvertised deals instead of rushing through the store to grab what I need before a tantrum strikes.

  2. says

    I once calculated exactly how much time I spent shopping and prepping in a week where I was “aggressively deal shopping.” I think it was 5 or 6 hours — although keep in mind that I usually walk to the store and bring 2 or 3 kids.

    I figured out that I was saving about $20 an hour by doing this. Since the average mother spends one hour per week grocery shopping, I was spending 5 hours extra and saving about $100 according to the coupon deductions, sale prices, clearance prices and other discounts I was getting. This did not sound unrealistic to me, since I hear other moms say that they are spending $200-$250 a week on groceries and I was spending $80 a week at this time.

    • says

      I actually got long-winded on this post and had a whole section on calculating the savings cost per hour and then decided to make that a separate post which I’ll be sharing in the next week or so. I think that saving $20 per hour definitely makes it worth it.

      Oh and if I were taking 2 or 3 children to the store every shopping trip and walking to the store, I’m pretty sure my shopping time would be double — or maybe tripled. :)

  3. says

    Wow! Thanks for including the link to your Coupon Box Organization. Immensely helpful. I’ve been using an old, big wedding envelope, and today I found most of my coupons were expired. And yes, I’ve found that I’ll clip coupons for the things I know I’ll use, like the Crest coupons, but then regret not clipping a room deodorizer or pen coupon when you post about a freebie with them.

    I ad-match at my Super Wal-mart, so I’ll sit at the table while my tot is eating breakfast and look through the grocery ads to compare. You get a 6th sense as to hone in on the real deals with groceries, so it just takes me a few minutes. I take a marker and circle the deals on each ad, then write it at the top of each store’s ad, like “grn pepprs 50c/ea”.

    Keeping Red Plum etc intact and doing what I do with the grocery ads may be my quick solution to saving time and clutter.

  4. says

    I spend about an hour for every hundred dollars that I save (not counting my shopping time; this is just my prep time). The majority of the time I spend about 2-2.5 hours prepping. Some weeks I spend 3-4 hours prepping and some weeks I don’t do any prepping or shopping! Just depends on what is going on in our lives.

  5. Nia says

    Hello Crystal,
    This is WAAAAAY off your post today but I can’t find an answer to my question. In the photo for making butterhorns I noticed a book next to the bowl. I was wondering if you could please let me know what book that is and if it’s a book I can purchase. Is it all freezer recipes or all your favorites?
    Thanks in advance

  6. says

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that when we are at grandma and grandpa’s house on Sundays, I utilize my “babysitters” to watch my 14th month old so I can get my coupons and grocery list together for the week.

  7. Mommieof4 says

    All in all 45 minutes clipping coupons and sorting them. But I spend probably 1 hour a day checking different deal sites.

    I spend about 30 minutes on Sunday or Monday clipping my 2 papers and putting the ones I might use in my general envelopes (paper business ones marked MEAT, DAIRY, BASICS, CLEANING). That way if I am in a store like Publix and need lunch meat and nothing is on sale, at least I have a coupon.

    Everyweek I check the ad for Publix and CVS and pull out in coupons on deals I can’t miss and put in my PUBLIX envelope in the front. So in case I run into Publix, I already have what I need ready to go. I have a PUBLIX, KROGER, CVS and WALGREENS/RITEAID/Diaper coupons and DRUG STORE envelopes that are plastic and durable.

  8. says

    I spend about 30 minutes per week clipping / filing and I do this on Sundays while I have a snack with my daughter. She paints or something near me. Once a month I do a purge of expired coupons while I file, so that takes an hour. I shop at Meijer every week, Kroger sometimes and CVS / Walgreens sometimes. I spend about 1.5 hours on my shopping trips and I take at least one of my kids, so it’s actually quality time because we talk about nutrition, prices, things we see, and so forth.

  9. Allison says

    I just have a couple of tips to save time– When I get the inserts, I write two dates on the front– the date they came in the paper, and the date the longest lasting coupon expires. That way I know when to put it in the recycle bin without having to thumb through it again. Also, I’ve started looking at the grocery store ads online. Most let you click on items to create a printable list. Then I cut and paste each list to one word file and print that to take to Walmart to price match. That seems quicker than writing things down myself, and my Walmart doesn’t require you to have the ad with you because they keep a few sets there if there is something questionable.

    • Juanita says

      @Allison, I have 2 walmarts supercenters close by and both check each individual item that I comp. What a pain if you are in a hurry or have people in line behind you that are in a hurry. But it does save alot of money. You are lucky that your store doesn’t have to physically look up each individual item.

    • Jessica says

      @Allison,
      I keep my coupon circulars and write the date they came too, but I never thought to write the date the last coupon expires – that is a great idea, I may have to start doing that. I keep my coupon circulars in a file box, in hanging folders by month.

  10. Amanda says

    I probably spend 2-3 hours total, between coupon clipping/organizing, meal planning, and shopping. Sometimes more if I’m hitting a few different stores in one week, but that’s my average.

  11. Lea Stormhammer says

    I spent about 30 minutes clipping coupons and doing some preliminary deal matching over my coffee on Sunday morning. The following Saturday (when I do my actual shopping) I spend another 30 minutes or so matching with the store listings here and printing online coupons if necessary. That’s also when I file my coupons.

    Shopping is an hour to an hour and half with the whole family along, also on Saturday morning. So that’s about 2 1/2 hours total for all of it over the course of the week – most of it on Saturday mornings. Not much of an investment for a good return!

    Lea

  12. Kelley says

    I spend about 2 hours shopping and my daughter does all the deal seeking and coupon clipping so all I do is shop for the stuff she tells me to get!!!!

    • Kerry D. says

      @Kelley, Yay for awesome daughters! Our deal hunting is a favorite activity for my 16 year old daughter and me. She helps a lot and is the first to look through the CVS ad. We fight over who gets to hand Dad our “free” men’s bodywash. :)

  13. Allison says

    Crystal– are there other coupons that you routinely save for certain stores, like $1 off Tide for Target? Could you do a post on that sometime? I’d love to know some simple routines like that, so during weeks when I’m short on time, I can do something quick and easy and still feel like I accomplished some couponing.

    • Jessica A. says

      @Reagan @ Recipesmademyway,
      I have the same problem of cooker’s block. I found that saving my old menus was helpful becuase I could go back and get some ideas of what I have made in the past and it jogs my memory of what we liked and did not like.

    • Emily says

      @Reagan @ Recipesmademyway, I agree…..15-20 minutes to plan a menu for a whole week is awesome. I have never actually timed how long planning my weekly menu takes me, but I know it is longer than that.

      What I have done to help me try and organize my meal planning is come up with what I call my “recipe index” binder. I have all sorts of categories (appetizers, breads/muffins, main dishes (broken down into chicken dishes, meat dishes, etc and even broken down further into the cut/type of meat), side dishes, veggies, etc….), and each category has many recipes listed and where to find them (what cookbook or in the back of the binder if it is a loose sheet). I also have various lists at the back of the binder (e.g. recipes that use buttermilk, recipes that use fresh ginger, recipes that use up leftover sauce, 30 minute or less meals, etc). That way if I need to buy an unusual ingredient that my family doesn’t use that often, I can easily find another recipe to make that week which uses the same ingredient. I find it helps me waste a little less. I work fulltime outside the home and have 2 small kids……I have found that having this recipe index is the only way to keep myself organized enough to actually sit down, plan a menu for the week, and stick to it. I has taken me a LONG time to put this together, and it is still in fact in the works…..it’s hard to find the time to sit down and work on it, but it is so worth it to me to have the organization.

      • Jill says

        @Emily, I love the idea of recipe index binder. Do you just have a binder with loose leaf paper in it that your write down recipes that you have tried and liked and put where to find them. My problem is that I will make a recipe and then it gets forgotten about because it could be in a magaizne that gets buried in a box or a cookbook that goes back onto the shelf.

        • Emily says

          @Jill, Yes Jill, it is in a 3 ring binder. In the front of the binder, I have loose leaf sheets (in sheet protectors) – 1 or more sheets for each category, depending on how many recipes I’ve listed in each. On each sheet, I’ve simply typed up our favorite recipes and what cookbook to find them in. I used to subscribe to Light and Tasty and Taste of Home, and many of our favorite recipes are from these and other various cookbooks I have accumulated over the years, but it was getting too hard to remember where certain recipes came from, which is why I came up with this idea. The binder also has a section in the back for other recipes that aren’t in cookbooks, like recipes I’ve photocopied, gotten off the internet, torn out of a magazine, or simply copied by hand. Also in the back of the binder are lists that I can go to to get recipe ideas easily, such as “30 minute meals” (which is great for weeknight meal planning), “recipes that don’t require the oven” (great for summer menu planning), “breakfast ideas” (great for weekday mornings when I’m trying to give my kids a healthy breakfast but don’t have a lot of time), and various other lists. I LOVE my binder and it is a great time saver. The only problem with it is that we love to try new recipes, and I try to make at least one new recipe per week. So, when we find one we love and is a keeper, I have to add it to the recipe index (I just do it by hand writing it in).

    • says

      @Reagan @ Recipesmademyway, Meal planning is definitely a chore! I usually plan one month of meals at a time – then I only have to drag myself through it once a month instead of once a week! :)

      I, too, save all my old menus and put a star by any meals that we would eat again (which is usually all of them). After a couple months, you could have a nice rotation!

      I also always keep my eyes peeled for new recipes – in emails, on blogs, elsewhere on the Internet, magazines, cookbooks, etc. I save them to my computer (with a hyperlink, for blogging purposes) and then search through my computer files each month when I’m planning. I have learned to be very creative – and my husband likes MOST meals I make! ;)

  14. Molly says

    I’d say I spend 2-3 hours a week. And because of that, I save 100-150 a week. So the way we look at it, I make about 50 an hour. And we can’t afford to NOT do that. My husband is so proud and amazed and tells people that I have added that to my jobs of full time mom and full time student. :)

  15. Joy says

    I’ve added mine up and I tend to spend around 10 hrs a week on organizing, clipping, checking deals online and shopping. I REALLY love it though so I think that I tend to spend more time than might be necessary. I also feel like I’m always really slow at the store. And I’m just ok with that. I do all my grocery shopping in one day and I visit two grocery stores and usually only one drugstore and my total shopping time is around 3 hrs, from leaving the house to entering back in the door.
    The savings: we went from spending $1000-$1200/month on groceries and now we spend less than $500. We use cash envelopes and I always have a few dollars leftover so I know that is for sure what we are spending. Also, we have tons more stuff in our stockpiles and are able to buy many things that we didn’t get to have before.
    Worth it? To me it is!!!

    • diane says

      I was so happy to read your answer. I spend about the same amount as you – maybe 10 hours/week total. I love it, and it pays! I’m not going to figure out my per hour savings, because I have the time – at work sometimes, at home sometimes when I’m watching TV, etc. I love to do it. My husband is proud and tells everyone that I do it. My kids like to hear. The only problem is that I have free – STUFF – all over the house! People call or email me with coupon questions. It definitely takes time, but it is a labor of love.

  16. says

    hmmm, I’d say I probably spend about the same amount of time. Some weeks less (like you say, when the deals are pathetic!) and some weeks more. the first month though, it seemed like it consumed my every waking moment and I worried that I was getting obsessed. In reality, I was just building up to the learning curve. On the other side of that, this is just what I DO. It’s as much a part of me as anything else and to not do it feels a bit like deciding I’m not going to brush my teeth.
    Of course, I’m not as gung ho as I was at first. I don’t need to be. Now that I know how to spot a deal, I can pretty quickly evaluate what I need to get it!

  17. says

    i spend about 2 hours a week, most of mine on coupon matchups and planning. my kids love to cut out the coupons, so I delegate that job to them!

  18. says

    I maybe spend about 5 hours a week between clipping coupons, planning out shopping trips and actual time in the store (I have a 3 year old and a one year old so shopping trips take about three times as long!). I really enjoy planning deals and clipping coupons so I spend more time than most doing it. As for actually going to the store- not my favorite thing to do! Some weeks I spend way less time because either there are no good sales or I have decided to take a break from deal hunting.

  19. says

    I usually spend about two hours a week clipping coupons and finding the best store deals. Between your site and a few other blogs for coupon match ups, it doesn’t take very long. I like to sit at my dinning room table on Sunday mornings with my coffee and a muffin and clip coupons. Also, the CVS sale paper.

  20. Lynette says

    For the few of us that live far from the stores (we’re an hour and a half from Walmart, Target, and Wags)–the strategy is very different. On non-shopping weeks, I just clip and organize coupons, using a few at my local grocery. I spend maybe an hour/wk. But on a week when I am going to town, I spend 4-5 hours planning my trip/making lists, etc. I would love to have some better strategies for planning ahead that shorten that, but I am still figuring it all out.

    • says

      @Lynette, I can relate, Lynette. We too live very far from any kind of shopping. I never shop every week. Sometimes, I don’t shop for nearly 2 weeks (aside from the gas station or Dollar General!). I try to only shop when I have another reason to head to town.

      And some weeks, shopping completely falls off the radar when your basement floods and your yard becomes a lake! You just live with what you have and make do (and appreciate others’ generosity!)!

  21. Jennifer says

    I tend to do my major shopping trip on payday weekend and then the following week just do a quick stock up deals/anything we need trip. I probably spend about 4hrs the first week, but then only 2 the second. I usually hit 3 different stores. For what I am saving it is worth the time for us! My husband also likes having a good supply of things on hand. Websites like this one makes it so easy! Thank you.

  22. says

    Not as much as I used to. Now that I’ve been at this a while I know which coupons I’ll use (canned tomatoes, wacky mac, toothpaste, rice, chocolate chips), and I’m a lot quicker than I used to be. I spend about 1 1/2 hours shopping on Friday night (also my me time).

  23. Jim says

    I probably spend an hour each day, all told, doing some quick scans of various deal sites. Ideally, I’d carve out a couple of hours on Wednesday (the day my local supermarkets’ circulars come out) skimming those circulars, doing a quick skim on a site or two that offers circulars ahead of time for Rite-Aid, Walgreens, etc, and checking out a coupon preview site to see what’s coming up. Then I’d be all set to see what coupons I’d have to order from clipping sites.

    In actuality, this usually happens in piecemeal between Wednesday and Sunday :-D

  24. ann k says

    I don’t let coupons take up my life. I’m not obsessed with coupons anymore like I used to be. During the first six months I stocked up on enough HBA to last my family for the next 3 years. So i’m taking it easy now.
    As far as food goes, I rarely find coupons for the basics that we purchase. Maybe two or three qs. Thats it. So, I don’t spend more than 15 mins every two weeks planning my grocery shopping trips and clipping qs. I try to shop for basics twice a month (except for veggies from the farmers market and milk which is once a week).

  25. says

    I have to say that I think this Q & A Tuesdays are pretty cool. That was a great question that I think a lot of couponers have. You answered it like a champ Crystal! Sometimes life can get crazy and couponing doesnt always run as smoothly as it did the week before, but if you are organized, and have a good routine, like how you go to your familys house every week, you can usually get it all done in a reasonable about of time. I can say that now that I only have one child at home, the whole couponing process is so much nicer! :)

  26. Jessica says

    I spend on an average of 3-5 hours a week cutting, putting away, organizing and shopping! Sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it in the end :)

  27. Jennifer2 says

    Not to get off of the subject of this post, which I love, but does WalMart accept coupons that are over the price of the item? Like the $1 off Tide and it’s .97 at WalMart…I know that some stores won’t adjust the coupon down. Just wonderin! And Crystal, I am VERY new to couponing and happened to come across your site and am in love with it!!! (And I live in western Kansas so some of the stores you shop at I have here!!) Keep up the great work!!

    • says

      It’s touch and go with Walmart. Usually they will, but you just never know. Target’s official coupon policy says that they will adjust coupons down.

      And welcome aboard!

      • Christy says

        I went to Target today to try to buy cheap Tide. The travel size was .97 and when I tried to use the $1 off coupon, it beeped. The cashier and manager told me that if it beeped, it meant the coupon wasn’t meant to be used on that item. The manager also told me they couldn’t adjust coupons.

        Their policy states “Coupon amount may be reduced if it exceeds the value of the item after other discounts or coupons are applied.” Does this only mean they can reduce the coupon if other coupons are used first? Or should I go back and show them that their policy states that they can adjust coupons?

        • says

          @Christy, If I were in your shoes (and assuming that your Q says “any size” tide) I would call the store manager and politely discuss it with him/her. Mention the corporate policy and the trouble you’ve had. If he/she says they will adjust the Q down in accordance with the policy, then I would find out what shift he/she works so you can shop during those hours. If they state they cannot reduce a Q or will not honor a Q that beeps, ask for his/her name and call corporate. The policy is there to help clear up issues like this. If a manager won’t abide by it corporate needs to know. Taking the policy with me to Target has been helpful in the past too, although I sort of feel like I’m bringing out my “big guns” when I do need to show it to a manager. :-) Shouldn’t they know what the policies are better than me???

  28. Katiria says

    I calculated and I spend about 2 hours on Saturday clipping the coupons then another hour figuring out which is the best deal. I miss out on alot of them because even after all that, I still have to make time to go to the store and follow through onthe deals I have before they run out. It’s tough because I work 9am-7pm

    • Michelle says

      @Katiria, I have started requesting rain checks at my CVS and Walgreens when they run out of “deal” items. I love going back at a later time and seeing plenty of the item on the shelf. The only problem I’ve run across is when a coupon expires before I can pick up the deal, but I’ve also collected a coupon that I didn’t have while waiting for the shelves to restock.

  29. April says

    Wow. I spent at least 20-60 minutes a nite searcing for coupons online after I made my grocery list. I was wasting SO much time. Then I found this site and that coupon database saved me all that time and is so easy! I told all of my co-workers and my mom (who is the coupon QUEEN) about it! I saved $40 off my last grocery bill by using it. I also started subscribed to my favorite store blogs to get even better deals!

    • says

      I’m so glad that I’m helping you save time — and money! That’s my goal in having this site. And I agree, the coupon database is a HUGE time-saver!

  30. Deborah says

    When I first started deal hunting and couponing — about 6 months ago — I was spending hours every night on planning and list making and coupon printing, as well as reading up on different blogs to learn what on earth I was doing. It was completely overwhelming and sometimes even anxiety-producing: the desire to get it right and the uncertainty of what would happen when I tried out deals in the store! But now, 6 months later, the coupon clipping and filing and deal-identifying is so much faster, and I realize that I don’t have to find every possible good buy every single week. I’ve got systems in place for handling coupons, not that I always am on top of them… I don’t have nearly the time to spend on couponing that I did before but I find I can do the job pretty well with 4-5 hours per week as opposed to the 25-30 or so I was putting in at the start. And when I can feed my family the meals they expect and provide the other household items we need, all within a vastly reduced budget, it’s so satisfying…

    • Donna Conzett says

      @Deborah, I am so glad you mentioned the anxiety that you felt when you first started to couponing because I felt the same way. I was very anxious that I would miss a deal and, “How could I let that go for free?” Now, after couponing or “Pooning” as my family call it, for six months, I am much more relaxed and I can let that “free” bottle of Men’s Gillette Body Wash just go on by because I know that I can find something similar to it when I need it and I certainly won’t need it for awhile because I have about six months of stuff like that stock-piled. I got to a point where I realized that I was done on the basics. Now, I spend about an hour a day looking at websites and deals and about three hours a week running to the different stores in Nashville. I am lucky to live where I do in Nashville because I am within five minutes of CS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Publix, Target and Walmart. It is great to have so many stores so close but it is a huge committment to try and hit every store’s deals every week. I found that Walmart and Target were just too much trouble to try and get my coupons to work. Most cashiers in Walmart aren’t helpful and just tell you they cannot use the coupon and most cashiers in Target have some issue with stacking my Target and manufacturer coupons. I have stopped going to them altogether, even when there are great deals just because it is so much easier to shop at Kroger, Publix and Harris Teeter. Each of these stores doubles coupons; Kroger doubles under 50 cents and so does Publix and Harris Teeter doubles anything under 99 cents. Sorry this post was so long but I rarely respond to blogs but this one seemed very informitive and I wanted to add my two cents! For what it is worth! :)

    • Ashley says

      Ohh…this is sooo ME right now!!! I’m new to this and basically, I think you just described exactly how I feel. I guess I just need to chill a little bit! :) The main thing for me is to get organized. I have a 1-yr old (birthday was today, sniff*sniff*) and he CONSTANTLY needs supervision, so that leaves me very unorganized. I need to work on that, and I think I will be able to cut down on the hours spent looking through deals/cutting Q’s!
      Thanks for your input though! :)

      • Deborah says

        @Ashley, What helps me to keep my head on straight as I continue to learn couponing is to remember that I don’t necessarily do a better job if I get more deals — it’s not as though I’m getting a letter grade based on a percentage score of my deals to the total number of deals available. I try to think of whether the shopping I am doing is helping my family out, not whether I got a helping of all the deal pickings out there this week. There are times when family and life make it impossible to catch any deals for the week, let alone ALL of the deals.

        I was setting my standards way too high at the beginning, fearful that I’d miss a deal of a lifetime or screw it up if I didn’t check the ad and the coupons and the blog multiple times. I think Donna has it right — you do learn over time that you don’t need to get every free item if you’ve got some of that sort of item on hand, over time it’s easier to see that sales cycles will bring other good deals on similar items in the future. And I think the corollary to Donna’s point is that you also learn what is a deal that for you is too good to pass up — I’ll always make some time for a deal on my favorite conditioner, for instance.

        I would just suggest being patient and kind to yourself as you learn, and remembering that very few shoppers can get every deal that comes their way. You want to enrich your life with the frugal habits you’re adopting, not take away from other important pursuits, like your 1-year-old.

        I laughed at your comment about organizing, Ashley. Organizing is a constant issue for me, and I think for many couponers. You may want to investigate the different popular systems for coupon storage to see if there’s an approach that works well for you. I know some people swear by binders, others by baseball card holders, some by file boxes, and others by no clipping and using the databases…I am sure that there are a lot of good ways to handle them. I just cut everything out, then file only those coupons that I think there’s a reasonable chance I’ll use. The rest go in an envelope marked by the date in case there later arises a deal that makes me want to go back and track that coupon down. It’s an intermediate system that works pretty well for me. And a plus of this system is that all the coupons are cut out so that when they expire they can just go into a box to be sent to military families overseas, who can use expired coupons for up to 6 months after the expiration date.

        I’ve saved what may amount to thousands of dollars over the past few months, but I still get nervous when I hand over that big pack of coupons and wait to see what happens…But really, even when it doesn’t go well, the worst that can happen is that I have to decide on the spot whether I want to leave an item behind, go to customer service or just keep moving on.

        Happy deal hunting, and thanks, Crystal, not only for the information but also for the place to chat!

  31. jo says

    first i go through the sales papers and take notes of the things we might be interested in and then i go in search of coupons clipping the ones that match up with a sale or getting coupons for something that might go on sale later….if i dont go to the store with a list and the coupons organized for that trip then i find i have to make multiple trips….no matter how long i take researching and getting coupons, it saves me tons of time when it comes to the shopping part…

  32. Diane says

    I use the majority of my lunch hour at work 4 days a week (lunch out the other day) getting internet coupons. I would say I spend 20 minutes a day clipping and organizing. I do send all the expired coupons and ones I would not use to a service person I was introduced to so nothing goes to waste. I use about $30 a week in coupons when grocery shopping and with the store sales ave an average of 46%. It does take a lot of time but prior to couponing I was doing a lot of crafts that just cost me money and I give away. Thanks so much for sites likes yours. You are so appreciated.

  33. Shannon L. says

    I had to give up couponing for a while bc I went back to work on the weekends(hubby works m-f). I used to have time on Sunday evening when I would lock myself in the bedroom and take my time. Now I don’t have that luxury. I haven’t figured out a good time to start again. Hubby gets home from work around 6 and then its homework, dinner and bed. I usually get home around 8 on the weekends but I’m exhausted from work.

    I really miss the savings. I make about as much money on my part time job as I used to save in coupons!

  34. says

    I just started clipping coupons this year. I spent a lot of time at first, but now I don’t spend very much time. We don’t have a lot of stores here and I get my coupons from relatives in bigger cities. We like to eat some organic things and I use coupons when I can find them, but mostly my coupons are used for household items. By saving money there, I can have more flexibility for the groceries I want. I cook a lot from scratch too. It is hard to pass up freebies, but I am learning to do that. I got 10 boxes of pizza rolls and a pack of gum for only $1.25 total for everything. But, when I got home, my teenage son looked at the ingredients and saw the trans fat and wouldn’t eat them. I think it takes time to find the right balance for each person individually between their budget, their time and their health. You have to fit it into what works for you, regardless of what other people do. Coupons sure have saved me money when I use them. I just don’t do it faithfully each week. I have learned to let some sales go by knowing that there is always another one around the corner.

  35. Carrie P says

    So many great ideas! I need to print this so I can read all of the comment posts as well-the meal planning in 20 min and the coupon organization! Everyone has some very interesting things to say! I need to learn to plan meals ahead. I am an on the fly kind of cook most of the time. I just seem to come up with meals best under pressure it seems…then I also can get stuck in a rut. I really need to plan. I think I spend about 30 min/day on average finding coupons online and clipping. I am an avid online shopper for clothing and other things we need-I shop ahead for clearance items for the next yr and such but only do that every couple months or as needed-that can take me some hours comparing prices/finding codes etc. We never pay full price! But it saves us so much money and well worth it. I am 35 min from the grocery store, so with my 3 and 1 yr old, it takes me half a day to grocery shop. We are used to it so it is no big deal and my boys enjoy it and I do, too-most of the time ;o) We do have the CSA just a mile from our house where we buy our meat and veggies and fruits at the other farms nearby as well, so I guess there are probably others out there who do the same but our situation is kind of different than the city and suburb dwellers. We simply pay more for most things here due to our location and ecause we buy lots of whole food-and the CSA is organic, yet comparing to junk food, it is cheaper! No coupon doubling either and only have Walmart Meijer and some local grocery stores. We also have a small market/hardware store (common to combine business types up here LOL!) and a great specialty (aka expensive)/ meat market 2 miles away in case we need something immediately. That is where we buy steak etc at a decent price when we have it on rare occassion. We do not eat the cheap meat at the big box stores much if at all, so less meat saves money. We only travel into town for groceries twice a month for the main grocery getting. So, possibly 8 hours on a grocery week and 2-3 hours on a non grocery getting week is average for us.

  36. says

    Crystal, I bet you could make a lot of money for your church by offering its cookbook for sale to your readers. They might have to do a special print run just for you. ;-)

  37. says

    I do one big shop a month from my favourite supermarket. Before I go, I prepare my recipes for the coming 4 to 6 weeks and produce my shopping list from this. My recipes are always based on what good food deals I can find – multibuys, buy 1 get 1 free etc. These recipes will be made in large freezable batches, covering around 16 family meals. That is a great headstart I find – stews, chilli, curries, soups that I can defrost and heat when required. However, I scan the deals online from other stores in my area, and if there is a deal that is cheaper than my regular store then I will buy the required ingredients there. It may be a little more time consuming but I save a lot of money per month by doing this. I estimate I look at all of the deals approximately for one hour prior to planning my recipes – I enjoy it so it doesn’t feel like hardwork !

  38. says

    The short answer to how much time I spend “couponing:” WAY TOO MUCH!! I’ve been budgeting and couponing for over two years now, and I still really struggle with how much time I spend. Intellectually, I know that it’s not profitable (both monetarily if I were to figure savings by hour or just for my life and family) to spend 10-15, even 20-25 hrs a week on this. I work full time, making good money. I don’t have much extra time and there are many other things that are also important that I end up taking time away from. Plus after the first bit of time invested coupon clipping and planning the deals, there’s diminishing returns. For example, in the first 3 hours spent, I probably could save myself $60 ($20/hr). But every hour after that might only be $5 or something. My struggle is that I really enjoy it – it’s like my hobby. And I really do think of it as my hobby and as others have said, it’s my “me time.” However, I shouldn’t be spending $20+ hours a week on my hobby. Also, I guess I am just plain slower than others. I really could not save much of anything if I only spent a couple hours a week working on it.