Lately we’ve posted a couple Catalina deals – and while you “old timers” out there already know what these are, I thought it would be good to pause and explain for everyone else!
First, let me ask you a question, what determines what goes in your grocery cart?
No matter how many times I ask this question I always hear:
1. What my family needs or has run out of.
2. What is on sale or what I have a coupon for.
3. Items on my meal plan.
This is how the majority of us shop, right? We’ve been trained to shop out of need. Meaning I’m out of cereal, so I’ve got to buy more. Or we just used our last box of pasta, I’m adding it to my grocery list.
The problem with shopping based on what we need or have run out of is that we are willing to pay a higher price. Think about it, what happens when you run out of toilet paper? I can only speak for myself, but when we are out it doesn’t matter to me how much it costs – I’m not leaving the store without it.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Cart
Basically, we’ve got to learn how to shop differently. We have to change our mindset and start buying what our families use…not need.
For example, if pasta is on sale this week for a great price and there just happens to be a coupon that makes it $0.15 per box ask yourself does your family use pasta? Whether you need it or not buy…buy…buy. And not just one box! No, you want to buy enough to last until the next sale cycle about 10 – 12 weeks.
How many? That depends how much your family would use over a 10 – 12 week period. If you use a box of pasta every two weeks, then buy 6 boxes. At only $0.15 a box, I’d like to encourage you to pick up an extra box or two to donate.
Learning to shop differently will help you save time, effort, and lots of money. Keep in mind that it will take a while to get used to an entirely new way of thinking, and it will also take time to build up a sensible stockpile. However, after just a few weeks of shopping differently, you’ll start to see your savings grow, and grocery costs shrink.
Couponing is a great way to save money! Whether you save 5%, 15% or 50% you are still saving your family money. Having a hard time getting started? Check out my current workshop schedule, or buy my new book, “Couponing for the Rest of Us” on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. You can even read the first chapter online FREE!
Since we started eating healthier this year, a large part of our grocery budget goes to fresh fruits and veggies. To keep our grocery budget under control I typically make an Aldi run since they have such great prices on produce. Since we had a list a mile long of projects we needed to tackle in our back yard I didn’t want to spend my afternoon running errands. We had to go to Walmart to pick up light bulbs and a couple other items so I decided to price match the produce in this weeks Aldi’s ad. I was surprised to see just how much money I saved.
Q: I’ve heard couponing is like a full time job. I’d love to learn how to save my family money but not if it takes tons of time. How do you find balance?
A: We’ve all heard the stories and seen the pictures. Overflowing shelves. Toilet paper stuffed under the bed. Hours and hours spent planning and organizing for just one “quick” trip to the grocery store.
It’s more than a little intimidating!
But here’s the thing. Couponing does not have to become your life. You don’t have to spend days planning for a single trip to the store. My hope is that you learn to coupon effectively in a way that you will be able to maintain. One that allows you to save money, shop wisely and find that all important balance. The bottom line? Couponing needs to fit into your life….not become your life. The truth is that the most important roles in our lives lie far beyond the grocery cart. But it is far too easy to get pulled into a mindset where clipping and planning claims more of your day than you ever intended.
So where is the balance?
It is in you. It is in finding a system that works and one that allows you to achieve your savings goals without giving up time with those you love. With that in mind here are three quick balance tips to help you keep things in perspective.
1. Limit Your Stores
It can often feel that if we want to make the most of our savings, then we are going to have to hit every store every week. This is far more than any one person can sanely take on! So choose one or two stores with the best deals of the week and stick with them.
2. Find Your System
There are tons of different couponing and organizational systems out there and they all have their strengths. It doesn’t so much matter which system you choose, only that you pick one that works for you and stick with it. This will save you time each week not only as you plan but also once you get to the store.
3. Enjoy Your Savings
Too often I hear people getting caught up in how much other people were able to save. This is not a competition! It’s about making a difference in your family’s budget. So enjoy the savings you snag and don’t worry about what others are doing. Whether you save 5% or 50% you still saved money.
If you’d like to learn how to save BIG without investing all your time, order my new book Couponing for the Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More. You’ll learn step-by-step how to reduce your grocery bill!
Although we’ve posted about how GREAT Manilla is before – we’d like to remind you about this great organizing tool as you start working on Spring Cleaning your bills, subscriptions, online vouchers and more.
Sometimes I feel like I’m being crushed under the sheer weight of info I have to keep track of. If you’re like me, you’re juggling too many balls – and you need about 10 more of yourself to keep them all in the air. Enter this awesome web-based organizer called Manilla. It’s a totally free service that helps you out BIG TIME by making it easy to manage things like:
- Bank & Credit Card Accounts
- Bills like Utilities, Dish or Cable, and Phone
- Subscriptions to Netflix and magazines
- Loyalty Programs (auto, hotel, airline, etc…)
- Vouchers bought from Groupon or Living Social
Keep all this info organized and accessible under *1* Password. Manilla keeps your info secure under just ONE login (so you don’t have to remember all the other ones from all those other credit card, bill, magazine, & daily deal sites). It presents everything in an organized way. Look at the example below of a typical account.
Doesn’t this just make you feel more sane?
Manilla even sends you friendly reminders when it’s time to pay a bill, renew a subscription – or use a reward before it expires! (I LOVE THAT)
Oh yeah – Manilla has a Free mobile app too!
I almost forgot – they’ve just come out with a new mobile app for iPhone & Android - so you can easily check out your accounts on the go!
How is it Free?
So how is all this awesomeness free? (You’re gonna like this!) Companies are tired of spending all that money on paper bills and statements – and as a result, they’re willing to foot the bill for us to have this Free Bill manager!
*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Manilla. All opinions are 100% my own.
Have you ever been printing several things when suddenly one item you were printing gets stuck? You go to investigate and there’s one print job that has an ERROR – and it won’t allow anything else to print. ARRGGHH!! I’ve been there too. So of course – you click “Delete” to cancel the troublesome print job – and it proceeds to delete until eternity… It says “Deleting….” but it never actually moves on from that point.
Couponing at the grocery or drug store takes patience and focus – and let’s face it, with kids in tow (especially the little ones) those qualities tend to fly out the window faster than you can say “Sit back down in the buggy and stop smacking your brother!” If you’ve forgotten what it’s like – CHECK THIS OUT!
So how is a couponer to manage? In a perfect world, our husbands would walk into the room and say “Sweetie, why don’t you take some time to get your list together and then go out for a couple hours. I’ve got the kids – take your time!” But even those of us who are blessed with wonderful husbands would probably fall out of our chairs if we ever heard those words.
So here’s what I do …. I don’t take my kids.
Unless I can’t help it, I will wrangle my schedule around so that I can go out once a week at nighttime, and I’ll hit every store I need to hit all in one fell swoop. I’ll stop at CVS on my way to Bi-Lo, make a pass at Walgreens on my way back – and call it a week! On an awesome Publix week, I have to plan a little harder because that’s a 20 minute drive for me – but for enough great deals I can make it happen.
These late night trips are pretty exhausting, but I spend the couple days ahead of time getting my list together, printing and clipping my coupons during a naptime or after the kids are in bed, and double checking on the shopping day for any last-minute finds. Being prepared it the best way to get in and out quickly and with everything you planned to get.
Phone a Friend:
Those times when I haven’t been able to get my husband to watch the kids – I’ve swapped “shopping times” with a friend. My friend Tessie used to come over and hang out with our kids while I ran out to the store – and then I’d come back and do the same for her.
In a pinch – I’ve even sent my coupons and list (prepared extra carefully to be considerate) with her while she went on a trip for the both of us.
There are usually ways to make it work – and it just makes it all so much easier when you can run in and out by yourself!
But what if leaving the kids at home is not an option?
Here are some tips to keep the kids happy and maintain your sanity while shopping with kids and coupons:
- Prepare – Prepare – Prepare! If everything is printed, clipped, sorted and listed – you will be better able to stay on track. I even mark on my lists how many coupons I have for each item I’m buying – that way I don’t ever have to pull out the coupons to count them. (Less chance for them to get knocked to the floor)
- Bring a snack, that way when the inevitable asking begins – you don’t have to splurge.
- Think of a grocery game you can play with the kids – I like to have mine play “Spot the blinkie machines and tearpads” and I award them imaginary points for each one they find. That helps me not miss any – and keeps them occupied.
- Ask them to help you load things into the cart – just keep them busy doing little things to help mommy – idle hands and all that….
- Find out if your store offers balloons, stickers, lollipops, etc… For me, the time waiting at the register is the most stressful part – so a well-timed lollipop from our friendly Bi-Lo bagger is always a welcome distraction!
What tips do you have for couponing with kids? Please share them in the comment section below!
Watch the video above to see Kasey’s “Happy Dance”. Oh yeah, and also how to shop at Bi-Lo for free things….
Currently, Bi-Lo has Bounty Napkins (the small pack) on Price Lock for $1. Using the $.50/1 Bounty Napkins coupon from the 4/1 P&G Insert, we were able to get FREE napkins this week!
“Good Things Come in Small Packages”:
One tip to keep in mind when couponing is that sometimes the smallest-sized products are the best deal (I know, counter-intuitive when you’re used to buying in bulk to save money, right?). Because some coupons don’t have size restrictions on them, you can use a high-value coupon on a low-priced item to get it FREE!