Disclaimer: If you are a couponer, do not take offense at this post. I am simply sharing my experience with what is available in our area that matches up with the coupons in our circulars. I am not criticizing anyone who coupons and hope to show a different viewpoint only.
I used to coupon like a crazy lady. I would collect coupon inserts from anyone and everyone. I would spend hours clipping, sorting and filing those coupons in my binder and then even more hours combing the circulars for deals, matching up coupons with sales and creating my list. (which always consisted of more than one page)
Finally heading out for a day long (I kid you not) shopping trip hopping from store to store to snag the best deals.
I had intricate lists and strict budgets per store. I had a price book and an inventory sheet of what we had at home in case I stumbled upon an unadvertised special. It was time-consuming and exhausting, but hey I was saving money…right?
Well, not always.
I found myself purchasing foods we rarely ate just because I didn’t want to pass up an amazing deal. Some of the foods my family refused to eat and I ended up tossing them because of the expiration date.[spacer height=”20px”]
Most of my purchases were for processed and sometimes empty calorie foods. My freezer was filled with frozen meals, chicken nuggets, pizzas, hotdogs, and ice cream sandwiches.
My pantry filled with pop tarts, high sugar cereals cookies, chips, and cakes.
I was spending so much time focusing on the deals I wasn’t focusing on our dietary needs. Bananas seemed to be the only fresh fruit in the house and we rarely had fresh veggies since I had so many bags of frozen in my freezer (only .19 after a coupon mind you) My fridge was bare except for condiments and drinks.
Sometimes a girl just craves a bowl of grapes!
One day I was on Pinterest (one of my favorite past times) and was looking at recipes. The dishes were beautiful! The colors were amazing and the food looked so delicious, nothing like the dinners I presented my poor family with each night.
Recipe after recipe called for the same thing…fresh produce. It also said I needed to use something called a stove. It had been quite a while since I used my stove since everything we bought was microwavable.
Ugh…what had I become??
I then took a step back and reevaluated my shopping method.
Was all this work worth the amount of money I was saving?
Was I purchasing foods that my family would eat?
Was the food they would eat benefiting them nutritionally?
Was I actually SAVING money?
The answers were no, no and no.
So before my next shopping trip, I made a list of our favorite meals. I asked everyone what their favorite foods were to snack on and what fruits and veggies they enjoyed.
I researched our local stores to find the best selection of fresh foods with the best prices. I created a price book and kept it with me when I shopped.
This ensured I was always getting the best deal.
I prepared a brand new list and off I went. The first few trips I must admit were a bit expensive and our budget did take a hit. But like anything new, it takes time to come up with a system.
I did find, however, since my list was no longer being driven by what coupons I had I was more able to focus on our weekly menu and list.
I found it much easier to stay on budget and not hoard food specials filling my house with items our family simply would not and should not eat.
Today I only shop 4 stores. One is known for its locally purchased produce, the second is a discount store for shelf and freezer items, the third is the local Mennonite store for my spices, honey and hard to find items, and fourth is my bulk store for everything else. My errand day takes just the morning.
My fridge is no longer empty, but overflowing with produce. On my counter sits a gorgeous fruit bowl and my pantry is filled with baking supplies and mixes.
My family now sits down to fresh cooked colorful meals that are delicious, nutritious and all budget friendly. All in all, we are thrilled with the change.
When living on a budget sometimes you need to step back and reevaluate what you are doing. Ask yourself if the task is worth your time and if the benefits are worth the effort to save a few dollars.
Is your cost per hour a good trade off for the money you save performing a frugal task? If the answer is no, it is time to make a change. Or at the very least time to do some tweaking.
I hope that makes cents!
Looking for more? You can find all of my Money Saving Tips here!