I am wondering if you have any tips for how to be an effective couponer without it taking over your life! I am about to have my fourth baby and for most of this pregnancy I have totally fallen off the coupon bandwagon because I just can’t seem to keep up the schedule of clipping, organizing, coupon train, printing coupons, planning weekly shopping trips, and so on.
I can’t seem to find the balance between “all” and “nothing”! I’m not opposed, in my mind, to a happy medium, but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that, practically speaking. -Kiersten
Thanks for asking such an excellent questions, Kiersten! Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Give Yourself Grace
There are seasons of life when I can focus more seriously on couponing. There are other seasons when using coupons takes a back burner.
It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, so I just want to encourage you not to stress too much over always getting the lowest price on everything. Do the best you can do with the time and energy you have and don’t worry about the deals you’re missing out on. Your health and sanity is worth more than saving a few dollars.
2. Focus on Stocking Up on the Best Deals
If you don’t have a lot of time, focus your dollars on stocking up on the best deals that can be frozen or have a long shelf life. Instead of worrying about getting those 35 different decent deals, pick 2-4 really exceptional deals and buy extras of those. While you might still end up paying full price for things sometimes, by getting 60-75% of your groceries at exceptional deals, you’ll still come out way ahead.
3. Stick With Simple Meals With Inexpensive Ingredients
If the majority of the meals you make are really inexpensive, you’ll save a lot of money–without even using coupons! Make a list of some of your family’s favorite inexpensive meals and use this list as a go-to when you are short on time and energy and just don’t feel like messing with coupons.
4. Consider Price-Matching at Walmart
If you’re finding it exhausting to shop at more than one store, consider price-matching the best deals from your local store at Walmart. This way, you’re still getting great deals, but it’s less time-consuming.
How I Plan Our Weekly Menu and Shopping Trips in Less Than 30 Minutes
1. Print great coupons as they become available throughout the week. I don’t print all the coupons that I post, only those that I know will be a good deal at the stores I regularly frequent.
2. When I’m ready to plan my menu (usually on Saturday or Sunday), I quickly review the printed coupons and divvy them up by store.
3. Then, I glance through my local store’s sale fliers, what coupons I’ve already printed, what I already have on hand, and inspiration from Pinterest and jot down a basic menu plan for the week.
4. While I’m planning the weekly menu, I also make a grocery list at the same time.
5. After I’ve planned the menu and grocery list, I double-check my store’s coupon match-ups to see if there are any deals I’ve missed or coupons I’ve forgotten to print.
6. Then I take the jotted down list of groceries I need to buy, look at my schedule and tentatively plan when and where I’ll do my grocery shopping that week. I don’t always follow this perfectly, but having a rough plan in place that I’ll swing by Walgreens when I’m my way to something else, or that I’ll block out an hour to hit three stores on Tuesday helps me to stay organized and on track during the week.