TIPS when you first start couponing ~ DEAR A THRIFTY MOM

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Dear A Thrifty Mom,
I am a new couponer (since October) and need a little help. I love your site. I found you soon after starting the coupon adventure and I am afraid that couponing has become a bit more of a bad dream than a joy. I read about the people who spend $400 and save $1500 and am at a loss. I have been pretty hard core couponing for 3 solid months and have yet to see a dip in my spending. I am working on stocking up on items that are on sale, buying meat only on sale, and shopping multiple stores only to feel like I am wasting my time and energy on something that is pie in the sky. I had hopped to save some serious money to help with our one income budget. My husband works hard and I was hopping my couponing could support him and help our family to make ends meet as I stay home with our 3 boys.
I just feel like I am missing some key ingredients. I get 5 papers weekly. I clip them all. The major portion of my time is spent clipping, organizing, looking online for additional coupons, using your site to find match ups. Then I shop at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Winco, and Walgreens with occasional stops at Pauls and Walmart. I have 2 young children with me most days so shopping and price comparisons are time consuming and often less than pleasant for 2 busy boys. I live in Kuna so a trip to the store is a 20 min drive one way and I don’t want to tote my kids to the store daily.

Do you have any ideas any ways I can make the major savings happen for our family. I am so thankful for the matchups you do. Without it couponing would be even more labor intensive and I am sure I would have given up long ago. I don’t want to give up on couponing, but I am close to deciding it is more stress than benefit.
Any thoughts????

Sincerely,
Jenny

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Dear Jenny,

Well it sounds like you have your hands full, I wish I had the magic answer but I hope a few of these tips will help.

  • First there will never be a guide to couponing  that will fit everyone’s life.  Everyone’s needs, lifestyle, location, stores and habits are so different that you have to just find what works best for your family.
  • Couponing is a huge blessing but does take work… so  try and stick it out so you can see the rewards!
  • Couponing is a learned skill and you will get better with time, and find what works best for you.  You will get into a groove that fits your family and their needs.  You are just starting out… so do not be to hard on yourself.
  • This one might surprise you but, I would suggest cutting back…. I know saving your family money is important, but if you get burnt out you will give up and it will be like a fad diet that was not successful .  Instead you need to make couponing  part of your life,.. but not take over your life.  I suggest to start small, get really good at shopping one  or two stores (notice I stick to pretty much 2 stores a week) , and as time and income permit you can try and add another store.
  • It is ok to miss a sale…. it is hard to select which deals are the best and which ones to pass up.  But if you try and hit them all, you will find your whole life revolves around sales and coupons.
  •  Take your budget and take 80-90% and shop like you normally would (before you knew about coupons)…. but then take the other 10-20% and have that be your “stock up or coupon money”.  Focus on the top deals, and just try and stock up on those items.  NO NEED to run to 4-6 stores each week, you will burn yourself out.  Each week you will be able to stock up on those hot items, slowly but surely your stockpile will grow and you still have a life.  The longer you coupon will be learn how much to dedicate just to stocking up and your normal “must have list”.
  • I always say Mom First… Thrifty Mom Second.  Dragging your sweet little ones along is never fun, I know you need to take them with you so that is another reason limiting the stores you shop at may be a good idea.  You will find a good deal is nice, but quality time with your little ones is better.
  • Last but not least… never compare yourself to others…celebrate any amount of savings.  You are doing a great job, now go hug those 2 busy boys of yours :) !

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