Thursday, April 28, 2011

Couponing 101: Part 3

When I think back to before my couponing days I feel so embarrassed.

I was NOT fulfilling my role as a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, or mother.

It makes me cringe to think of the overspending I was doing by cooking just whatever I wanted to, buying things that were full price and without coupons, going OVER-budget with that spending... Now I'm saving us money off of our normal budget AND getting about 1/3 more in groceries and personal care items than I was before. Who WOULDN'T want to do that???

Now I know the feeling of happiness that comes with pairing a $1/2 coupon with a BOGO sale. Oh yes, the sweet smell of a deal... 

If you're a SAHM, then you likely have time to do this. If you're not a SAHM... you're probably not reading my blog. In the rare chance that I've reeled one of you in (cue evil plan music), YES, you CAN do this. I watch most of the deals on my phone (e-mail and facebook) and only go to the computer when I need to print coupons out.

I'm not saying that the desk is a lovely sight... or that all of my coupons are perfectly cut out and organized... but I'm still able to get er done. : ) That was for my Arkansas family that may be reading, btw.

So here's #3... HAVE A SYSTEM.

 Click HERE for image credit and an AWESOME tutorial on making your own pantry checklist

1) Budget.
- Have a SET amount (and be surprised when you come in UNDER budget!)

- Grocery shop when you're paid, not throughout the paycheck (you'll only get what you need) Stick to the list goes along with this.

- Control the cash flow
--- I've heard that taking cash in an envelope helps women take more note of what they have to spend. (I don't do this but hey, whatever works.
--- After I make a list of every SINGLE item I'm getting, I calculate the deals, coupons, and regular prices to ascertain what can be spent at each store. At the top of each grocery list (I normally go to FOUR stores!) I write the dollar amount I have to stay within... at the end of shopping, I add up what is in my cart (taking note of the cost as I go) and have even had to remove a few items! When I first started the whole couponing thing, I made a list of most things I buy and went on a price-finding mission to fill in that list with the prices at each store. Not fun, but it has helped me IMMENSELY!
NOTE: I have an awesome hubby who is willing to give up half of a Saturday every other week with me so that this can take place. If you are not in this lovely position, don't give me stink eyes.

2) Meal Plan
- Create a plan that lasts through an entire pay period (or longer, if you're adventurous)

- Base your plan on what's in your pantry, stocked up items, and deals of the week. If chicken quarters and bbq sauce are on sale, have bbq chicken! If you have tons of frozen veg stocked up, plan two meals a week with veg! If there's a box of rice-a-roni that's about to expire, use it now!

- DO be crazy and plan theme meals, breakfast for dinner and leftover nights.

- DON'T be a micro-manager and plan out the minute details of every bite that goes in your mouth. You'll stress yourself out!
-- Keep essentials for pb&j, grilled cheese, hot dogs, mac&cheese... on hand and you can mix it up for lunch. You know, playing it off the cuff... living on the edge... 
-- My children are all under the age of 6 so don't know to complain yet that I only give them fruit and milk for breakfast. HA! Fooled them! : D We do a hot breakfast on Saturday and cereal on SONday and a random day with muffins so it's not boring. Again, whatever works for you...
3) Eye-ball Your Pantry
- Create a list of items that you constantly use (every time I go shopping, I pick up a different stock item (flour, sugar, rice, cornmeal...).
--My list is laminated and backed with magnets, stuck to my fridge at this very moment. Whenever I get ready to go shopping, I refer to it to make sure I'm including everything.
 -- You can put little boxes on it and mark off items with a dry erase marker when you're running out of them, if you're so inclined.

- Watch for deals on those items specifically.
--- If toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, etc. are on your list of stock items, you would wait for a deal to come up then buy as many of that specific item as you can (not all in one trip, mind you... know your limits!)

Hope this has helped you... come back soon for more!

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