Missed the first posts in this series? Read them here.
1) Consider How Much Time You Have to Invest
Time is money. So if it’s scarce for you, don’t expect that you’ll be able to spend six hours grocery shopping each week. That’s just not feasible or realistic.
I’d suggest that you be willing to set aside at least two hours each week if you want to see fairly significant savings. Invest 30 minutes in planning and clipping/organizing coupons and an hour and a half in shopping. In that timeframe, you should be able to plan your shopping trips and shop at one to three stores. It might sound unrealistic right now, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
But I Don’t Have Two Hours to Spend!
Maybe you don’t. But how important is saving money to you? Is it worth giving up time spend watching TV or working on a hobby? Look at your schedule and see if there is something you regularly do each week that you’d be willing give up in order to save money. You might find that clipping coupons and reducing your grocery budget can become a fun hobby in and of itself. And it’s one of the best hobbies ever because it doesn’t cost you money, it saves you money. Plus, it greatly benefits your family!
If you have more than two hours to invest per week, you can tailor your plan accordingly. Perhaps you have time to hit four or five stores, instead of two. Or maybe you have time to research more deals and clip more coupons. Do what works for you. However, don’t overdo!
2) Rotate the Stores You Shop At
When the weekly sales change in your area, sit down and quickly scan the grocery store fliers (most larger chains offer their fliers online), your price book, and your coupons, and decide which stores are running the best sales. Keep in mind what your schedule is for the week and what areas of town you’ll already be in. Based upon which stores have the best deals and what your schedule looks like for the week, plan your shopping trip accordingly.
I rarely shop at more than three stores in a week. A more normal week would include a stop at either Aldi or Dillons (a Kroger affiliate) and a stop at the health food store to look for mark-downs.
However, I rotate the stores very frequently depending upon the sales and what coupons I have. I usually go to a local store once a month when they have their Double Dollar coupon event, and then I go to Target once every 4-6 weeks, Walgreens and Walmart once or twice a quarter, Sam’s Club once or twice a year, and a Bulk Foods Store once every four to six months. On occasion, I’ll also pop into the dollar store.
So in a six month time period, I’ve likely shopped at nine to ten different stores–but I never shop at all of them in the same week, or even in the same month!
That’s the beauty of shopping at more than one store. You don’t have to shop at five stores each week, or even more than one. But you can rotate which stores you shop at every week in order to get the best deals and lowest prices.
3) Don’t Feel Obligated to Hit Every Deal
I think one of the biggest mistakes new couponers make is that they discover this world of paying pennies on the dollar and get so excited about all the money they are saving, that they go a little overboard. Pretty soon, they are completely burnt out and go back to spending large amounts at the grocery store each week.
The better approach is to take it slow. Pick and choose the best deals to do and don’t worry about hitting the others. There will always be another sale on milk and cereal or whatever else it is that seems like such a great deal at the time. Pace yourself and you’ll find that you enjoy it a lot more.
In addition, realize that it’s okay to step back and take a break every now and then. Sometimes, I’ll shelve my coupon box for a week–or even a month!–and just do my shopping at Aldi. Or even skip shopping and eat from the pantry that week. Maybe I didn’t get the rock bottom prices that week or miss out on some stellar deal, but over the course of the year, it’s much more money-saving and sanity-saving to pace myself.
How much time do you spend on bargain-shopping and coupon-clipping each week? Tell us in the comments because I’m very curious to know!
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Other posts in the 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Menu Planning on a Budget (Part 1)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Menu Planning on a Budget (Part 2)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop With Cash
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: The Buy Ahead Principle
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop at More Than One Store (Part 1)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop At More Than One Store (Part 2)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop at More Than One Store (Part 3)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Everyone Should Use Coupons
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: 10 Ways to Get Coupons for Free
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Should You Ever Pay For Coupons?
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Finding a Coupon Organizational System Which Works for You
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How to Maximize Your Savings With Coupons
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Play the Drugstore Game
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How To Get Started Playing the Drugstore Game
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Sign Up for Freebies
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Follow a Few Helpful Blogs
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Don't Waste
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Don't Be Brand Dependent
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Look for Markdowns
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Buy in Bulk
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