"I can't save money using a 25 cent coupon."
"It takes too much time...isn't time money?"
"I have to buy the newspaper? Doesn't that cost me money?"
"Ugh, my coupons always expire before I use them..."
Trust me; I've heard it all, and I used to say the SAME thing! When I first started couponing a couple months ago, I was very skeptical. Until the numbers started speaking for themselves, and I literally saw cold hard cash staying in our bank account instead of flying into the grocery stores pockets. I used to stress when we would go to the store because we would spend so much money- now I LOVE going to the store because it is a game; I provide for my family and I save lots of money.
This was a typical week for my husband and I, and let me know if it sounds similar:
Sunday: Grocery shop. Throw random items in the cart. Total bill: $150. Walking about thinking..."hmm...I don't think I can make a single meal out of everything I bought!"
Tuesday: Back to the grocery store because I forgot items A,B,C, etc. Another $50.
Wednesday: Eat out because we are frustrated that we "have nothing in the house to eat!"
And this continued until we realized we were spending $400-500 a month on groceries that went bad or we did not need and then on top of that we were eating out for another $200+. It was wasteful- both in respect to our time and our money. We were not being good stewards of the money God blessed us with.
When I first started couponing, I'll admit, it was a part-time job. I had no clue how to use a coupon, when to use a coupon, how to strategize, what store policies were, how you could combine coupons, etc. etc. It was overwhelming. After 2-3 weeks of couponing, experimenting, and studying blogs/forums, it clicked.
The biggest complaint about coupons I get from people is "it takes too much time." Nope, it doesn't, and here's how I know.
I now spend roughly the following devoted to coupons weekly:
- 5-10 minutes planning my grocery lists/deals for the week. This is my "strategy session." :) I visit websites like www.southernsavers.com. They show me the deals and I just check what I want and print my list. Search, click, print, done. Simple. :)
- 5-10 minutes clipping. I use the www.couponmom.com strategy so I do not cut a coupon unless I need it. I just buy 4 newspaper a week, label the circulars by date, e.g. 2.27.11, and put them in a drawer. If I had to waste time clipping and organizing coupons, I would quit. This method takes no time and is efficient, so I can stick to it. And so can you. :)
- 30-90 minutes shopping- depending on deals. Last week I did not see as many deals, so I spent 30 minutes in and out of Publix for my weekly grocery trip (this used to take way longer as I meandered through aisles aimlessly; now I go in with a plan and I am on a mission so I go in and out and do not buy anything that is not on my list and that I do not have a coupon for). This week, however; my deals were better so I spent 30 minutes in Kroger, 30 minutes in Publix and 15 minutes in CVS. Not bad considering I saved $130 during that time period. $1.73 a minute. Sweet payout.
- 5-10 minutes organizing the new items into my stockpile shelf or freezer.
I recommend when you start out, you keep up with your savings. I have an excel sheet I utilize each time I make a purchase. Humans thrive off of instant gratification. If you see immediately how much money you saved, your behavior is more likely to continue because you were instantly rewarded for your efforts.
Below are my numbers from January 1, 2011 to March 5, 2011 (keep in mind, these will get better in time since January was my *learning* month and I did not have a big inventory of coupons yet):
- Total Spent: $549.86
- Total Saved: $777.28
- Total Value of Product Received: $1,327. 57
- Average Spent Weekly: $54.99
- Average Percent Saved: 59%
- Highest percentage amount ever saved: 96%
- Lowest percentage amount ever saved: 37% (and that was my 1st week couponing! :)
Projected Annual spent: $3,299.16
Projected Annual Saved: $4,663.68
Projected Annual Value Acquired: $7,962.84
My husband and I went on a mission trip to Peru in the heart of the Amazon last year. We absolutely loved it, and it cost around $4,000. Our annual savings alone could pay for our mission trip AND allow us to donate more to the charity on top of that to help put the locals from Iquitos, Peru to school! And all it took was a little time on my part.