I imagine a lot of you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night (or Tivo’d it to watch today) and want to know, “How do I do that?” I did it, back when my twins were infants and my 3-year-old was in preschool, and I ended up regretting it. With that experience behind me, I still shop with coupons but in a very different way, and I hope you’ll consider my trial-and-error before you dive in.
Use coupons responsibly
Couponing can be a hobby for some (it certainly started that way for me), and it helps if you have plenty of free time and enjoy math. Know your store’s policies. Learn about coupon ethics, and start with coupons for the products you use regularly. Check your favorite brands’ websites for printable coupons; even organic foods have coupons. Match coupons to the sales in your store’s weekly ad for the most savings.
Remember that time is money
Once you learn couponing and the other strategies that greatly reduce your grocery bill (such as meal planning and stockpiling), you’ll spend less time on it than you do as a beginner. It took me several years to get to this point, where my meal planning and grocery lists take less than 30 minutes, my couponing and shopping from 1-2 hours total, per week. Be careful that you’re not spending hours and hours just to save pennies; it’s not worth it, and it’s frustrating!
Know the difference between stockpiling and hoarding
I encourage stockpiling, in that you purchase enough of a commonly-used grocery item at its lowest price to get you through until the next sale. This usually equates to 4-6 of an item at most, and in my house, you can’t see my stockpile! It’s one shelf in the linen closet, one shelf in the laundry room, and my kitchen pantry (not huge). When you watch the TLC show, you’ll hear addictive language and see examples of 3, 5 or even 10 years worth of products. What is the point of stockpiling them if you continue to shop?
Learn other ways to save
At MoneywiseMoms, while I do share grocery deals and coupon tips, I also encourage you to start with the strategies that help you save on your groceries with NO coupons. You’ll eat healthier, encourage good habits in your children, and save a LOT of money.
I have an entire vlog series on Grocery Saving Strategies; I hope you’ll check it out. Each short video gives you a different habit to learn to save BIG on your groceries, and the majority of them do not involve coupons. Stop by MoneywiseMoms to learn more.