Guest post from Emily of I Have Coupons for That
I have always enjoyed getting a good bargain on just about everything. However, it wasn’t until after my husband and I married (nearly 12 years ago) that I began using coupons on a regular basis. And while coupons helped save me money when I shopped, I also noticed that sometimes I would spend more than anticipated.
By the time our third child was born, I was shopping every two weeks at the base commissary, spending $250 to $300 each time I shopped. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing wrong.
Fast forward to today and I am now able to shop for the same items (for my family of 5) for only $50 each week — which saves us nearly $400 per month, or $4800 per year!
How did I do it?
It took a lot of trial and error and it was definitely a learning process, but sticking to the following “rules” helps me stay on track each week:
1. Carry your grocery-shopping budget in cash.
This was my first mistake. Carrying my debit or credit card provided room for overages at the register. By restricting myself to cash, I could only spend up to my allotted budget.
2. Use a calculator.
Keep track of the amount you are spending as you shop.
3. Shop small, save big.
Instead of shopping twice per month, I now shop every Monday. My shopping list is smaller and I spend less.
4. Know what you already have.
This used to make me so mad! I would purchase something because I had a coupon and would return home to find I already had three more of that very same item.
5. Make advanced meal planning a financially healthy habit.
I prepare my meal plan one week in advance, working from my family’s sensible stockpile, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Any items I may be missing to complete a meal are placed on my shopping list the bottom of my meal planner and those are the items I shop for on Monday.
6. Build a sensible stockpile.
Creating a stockpile that was practical and would sustain my family in between store sale cycles took some time. Now, I am able to rely on the items within our stockpile and eliminate the need to shop for those items. Without even leaving the house, I have already saved money!
7. Understand smart coupon use and store sale cycles.
Learning to better match coupons to store sale cycles will offer additional savings.
I was able to conquer our new grocery budget within nine months. Since that time, I have been able to maintain a budget of $50 per week for groceries and household necessities, without having to sacrifice preferred brands.
Emily is a born and raised Virginia Southern Belle, mother of three, proud military wife, and penny saver. She has an eye for things that sparkle and a love for a good bargain. She shares her daily frugal adventures at I Have Coupons for That!