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The art of couponing can be extremely beneficial and/or extremely dangerous at the same time. Without realizing it, awesome savings can easily turn into an addiction of spending for the sake of the sale.
This was something I struggled with until my husband had to call me out on it! (Thanks Hunny)
See, the whole reason I started to coupon in the first place was to knock down our grocery budget so we could put that extra money towards paying off a credit card – our first step towards debt freedom.
What was actually happening was that I’d use those savings towards purchasing other items I wouldn’t normally or we didn’t NEED just because it was at a discount. So although yes, I was still technically saving money on our normal items, I wasn’t using those savings in an effective way that would REALLY benefit us. That, or I would use my personal spending money from the budget to do buy more at a ‘cheaper’ price – thus spending MORE money than I normal would!
Despite having realized this flaw, I still believe that couponing is still an effective way of cutting costs and saving money so long as you can keep things on track. That’s why I created this list of pointers to help you make the most of your couponing efforts without sabotaging your savings.
1. Look for sale patterns in your area
For example, I know that every couple of weeks our nearby Walgreens will run either Palmolive or Dawn dish soap for 99 cents a bottle and there’s usually a 25 cent coupon available at the same time. Same deal will run for Puff’s Tissue boxes. Therefore, I will never pay more for those items. Once my little stockpile (usually 2-3 bottles) gets down to the last one I will keep on the look-out for this deal and grab a couple more!
This leads me onto #2:
2. Be honest on how large of a stockpile you NEED.
This tip will help your pocket book as well as your sanity. The more items you have in your house, the more you’ll need to find space to store and the more you’ll have to maintain (organize, keep inventory, dust off). Do you really NEED 20 sticks of deodorant? Chances are there will be another killer deal available in the time it takes you to use 3-5 sticks (depending on your usage). The only exception I would make to this is if something will be free with a coupon or a moneymaker deal. By all means, at that point stock up! 🙂
3. Meal Plan
If you still find yourself sneaking extra purchases into your cart that you don’t truly need, I suggest meal planning and creating your shopping list before looking at any coupons. you can keep your list general (i.e ‘cereal’) and then go back and look for deals on just the items you are really needing to purchase! In a sense, it’s like creating a sort of ‘tunnel vision’ to help keep impulse shopping through the sales ad.
4. Stay out of Target
Ok, I’m only kidding on this one. But seriously, we all know the feeling of walking into a store for 2 things… and then leaving with 50! I’ve only recently come up with a way to help battle this and that’s to put myself on a time restraint, or a time goal to be out of the store. I personally shop at our local Meijer, which is a similar business model to Target. Groceries are offered, along with numerous other home goods. For me it doesn’t matter if I’m in Meijer or Target, it is FAR too easy for me to get side tracked and start wandering down aisles. Next thing I know things we ‘need’ (aka it would be nice to have) end up in the cart.
By giving myself a time goal, or even setting an alarm on my phone, I can help force myself through the store instead of wasting my day wandering around. Sometimes this means walking through the store staring at the floor, but if it works – why not!
Ultimately savings are entirely achievable with coupons. It is a skill that comes with practice and if you’re looking to scratch the surface with coupons, check out my post [HERE] on how to use them effectively. Regardless, seeing the savings can turn a hobby into an addiction, which can lead to a disaster. The first step to avoid having that happen is simply being aware that it CAN and being conscious of the choices you make when you shop. Baby Steps 🙂
Let me know if you’ve faced this issue and if there were different methods you used to help!