It’s easy to get overwhelmed by couponing, especially when you’re just starting out. There are so many good deals, and since you don’t know if it’ll come along again, you often feel like you have to get it. You may also fear over-spending now that you know you’ve been wasting money for years.
But I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to coupon and build a stockpile while still maintaining your sanity. Here are some tips:
1. Accept that couponing takes time. Trying to fight reality is futile, so just accept that it takes time to coupon. The only thing you can control is how much time you’re willing and able to put into it.
2. Establish priorities. It’s easiest to establish a stockpile of free and cheap health and beauty products, but maybe what you need most is cheap food. Decide where you want to focus your energy for now. You can always rearrange your priorities later.
3. Focus on 2 or 3 stores. If food is your priority, then pick the nearest grocery stores and focus on getting the best deals there. Or, if you don’t have any particular need, pick one grocery store and one drugstore. Let the deals at other stores pass you by, because they’ll likely come around to the stores you’re focusing on too.
4. Limit your number of shopping trips. It always blows my mind that many forum posters seem to hit the stores every day. For most people, that’s pretty unrealistic. If you’re really pressed for time and/or stressed out, try to stick with one shopping trip per store per week. And don’t hesitate to do more than one transaction in a visit. (My strategy is to make one purchase, then collect the items for my next purchase from the shelves, and get back in line. Since I’m not holding up the line, I’ve never had a cashier or fellow customer complain about my multiple transactions.)
5. Let some deals go. You’ll inevitably forget to pick something up during your weekly trip, but most times it’s best to just let it go. I do this almost weekly (I forgot to check out the John Frieda during my trip to Walgreens). Unless it’s a mind-blowingly good deal or something you desperately need, it’s probably not worth the cost of gas to head back.
6. Try to shop early in the week if you can. Since you’re only going to the store once during the sales period, the store is more likely to have the items you want in stock if you go at the beginning rather than the end of the sale. Alternatively, try to find out when the store gets its truck deliveries and try to go late that day or the next day (so they have time to unload the truck and get items out on the shelves).
7. Limit your coupon clipping time by using the insert method of filing coupons. I Heart CVS has a good description of how this works. I use this method personally but without the stapling, and rather than filing by week, I have 24 folders that are labeled Jan. 1-15, Jan. 16-31, Feb. 1-15, and so on.
8. Give yourself a break. Remember that even if you’re not saving the maximum possible amount of money, you are still saving. Most deals will come around again. And every little bit counts toward achieving your financial goals.