Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Coupon Journey

My couponing journey hasn't always been a pretty one. 
I started couponing 7 years ago--that was a "loose" term.  I certainly didn't coupon like I do today!  I didn't save inserts, didn't stockpile and didn't pay attention to sales cycles!    Then in 2009, as a stay at home mom, I discovered the couponing blogs that told you WHAT was on sale each week and the coupons to go with them.  They were telling me I could get stuff for FREE, for under a $1 each, and (hold the phone) even MAKE MONEY for buying items!????
I was hooked.

I started this blog back in 2009 eager to share my knowledge with others.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops how amazing the world of coupons was!  I mean, why didn't EVERYONE do this??

Back then, I was spending about $100 a week.  On my shopping day I would typically shop at 2-3 different grocery stores as well as 2 drug stores.  Let's add that up--that's FIVE STORES.  I couldn't stand it!  I had to have every deal!
If I saw a deal pop up on one of my blogs, I had to get to the store that day to make sure I didn't "miss out".  I checked blogs hourly just so I didn't miss any online deals or unadvertised specials.
The fact is, it was EXCITING!  It was like this shopping thing was a game, and with coupons, I was always the winner!!

And then the inevitable happened: I got burned OUT.  Big time.  Was it thrilling?  YES!  But it was also exhausting!  My personal business was starting to take off around the same time and I just didn't have that time to go to all the stores and stay online or on my phone all day watching for deals. So I took a step away from coupons, away from blogs and I decided that I would shop at the "Everyday Low Price" retailer.  It was a one-stop-shop and I didn't have to clip a single coupon, but still found I was saving some money.
After a couple of bad experiences at the big box store (including an instance when my ice cream melted WHILE waiting in a 20 minute line to checkout) I thought I would give couponing another shot.
I re-vamped my coupon organization (seen in my video here) and started with JUST my local grocery store--just ONE of them.  ;-)
I shopped at drug stores on occasion and when I had time, but not weekly.  
I found this new"mellowed out" method of shopping and saving fit my lifestyle and has kept me couponing the same way even 3 years later!

Today, I generally shop at my local grocery store ONCE a week and will do drug store or big box store couponing trips if there is an awesome deal to be had or if I have time.  Most often, I make my list and plans, but the week passes and I have yet to make it to the other stores.  I know that there are some unbeatable drug store sales, but the fact is, if I make it there, fine--if I don't that's fine too!

I tell you my story because I hear so many people say couponing "takes too much time" or "isn't worth it."  But you have to find the way of shopping that fits your needs and your lifestyle.  Don't get burned out by shopping too much or too often, but don't feel defeated if you miss a deal either.  Everything goes on sale eventually!  Now instead of taking a lot of my time, I can make my list, clip my coupons and do my shopping trip in about 90 minutes a week TOTAL.  Now that I have found what works for me, it's just another way of life.

If you workout (or have attempted to do so!) you know that there is a learning curve to figure out how that new workout will fit into your current lifestyle.  Eventually you'll find what works for you, what gives you the desired results and it becomes just a way of life.

What about you? How does couponing fit into your life?  What areas of couponing are the hardest for you? Where do you feel the most frustration?  Organization?  Taking too much time?  Trying not miss a deal?  Not saving as much as you want to?
I would love to feature a reader on a future blog and address some of these issues, so let me hear from you!


Sally said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I've just started a new shopping routine. I used to just go to one store, because I figured my time was too valuable to be running around town for deals. Then, the cost of groceries started to rise, and I had to re-think things. Last week, I went to our two local grocery stores, and another small pack-your-own-groceries kind of store w/ unfamiliar brands. I was excited by all of the deals that I got, but I realize that every week may not be like that -- and some weeks there may be too much of a time crunch to go 3 places.

I appreciate your thoughts, and I will take it one week at a time. ~Sally

Melissa said...

i do what I can to save on the household and health and beauty items. those to me are the most expensive and since I am not brand snobby, it's ok. :-)

I try to get to CVS as often as possible....but I'm not stockpiling for the end of the world....just for a few weeks/months depending on the product.

I've looked at how I grocery shop and plan meals based on the sales of meat. The side dishes come from the produce section (mostly). I will stock up on a BOGO if I have coupons and it's something we use....

I coupon, but I am NOT an extreme couponer by no means...