Is using coupons the best way to save money on groceries, or might there be a better way to do that?
I have to admit that I have always wanted to be the coupon queen, but I’ve always fallen short of having the skills, knowledge, or ability to purchase hundreds of dollars of grocery items for just about nothing. (Or so it seemed anyways.) I just never knew what kept me from being able to be the master, or should I say mistress, of the aisles!
Most of the time I just didn’t seem to feel as if I had the time I thought I would need to look through the local newspaper inserts and plan ahead. As much as I wish otherwise and know better, I don’t always plan ahead.
Then there were the times I spent hours and hours finding coupons and making my list, only to give those hard-earned coupons to the cashier and receive no credit. Did you ever notice cashiers always seem to forget about the coupons you give to them for sake keeping at the very beginning of your purchase? Well, I noticed that if I don’t remind the cashier of my coupons, the cashier won’t remember, and I don’t remember either, so that goes for a lot of wasted time that week and a whole lot of frustration after I get home and finally remember all those grocery coupons, printable coupons, huggies coupons, organic food coupons, and just plain kroger coupons I once so vividly imagined making me, FINALLY, at least a runner up to being the coupon queen of the day.
To that means and finding myself unable, or sometime I thought unable, to make money at home by saving big with coupons, I really kind of thought I was just a failure at being the good steward of my family’s money.
Then I read something that helped me see how I was blessed to have such a deficiency.
I just read a post titled “Extreme Couponing: When Saving Money Goes Too Far” from a wonderful gal who writes a blog called “The Happy Housewife”. While her writing seemed well done and witty, it was her insight and wisdom that intrigued me the most. She had no problems with coupons or hot deals, and while she didn’t really provide tips to save money on groceries, she did provide some information on HOW to save money on groceries with coupons, or maybe I should say how NOT to.
Her article (listed above) provided a quick reference to four individuals who were recently covered on a new reality show about extreme couponers and extreme couponing lives. Having just noticed these four on a Fox News interview just yesterday I believe, happening upon this article today was really good for me. Having just seen them, it caused me to stop and read The Happy Homemakers blog post today.
The author described the lives of these extreme couponers, those who were kings and queens of the grocery aisles, and to be perfectly honest with myself, I didn’t want to be one of those people. One spent 70 hours a week doing what she needed to do to save money on groceries. They ALL seemed to spend a significant amount of time, and if not this amount, it was at least quite a lot and comparable. One frequently canceled time with friends and family and didn’t go to events, and if we read about them all more in detail, that may have been at least somewhat the case with most if not all of the others too.
These folk certainly had ways to save money on groceries, but the cost of “those ways” was not what I would have wanted for myself and my family. Those ways would have taken WAY too much time, too much energy, and too much of ME for me to have felt good about.
The Happy Homemaker blog writer continued her insightful remarks by saying she didn’t want her legacy to be that of a stockpile (as one of the extreme couponers had said of their legacy). Instead, The Happy Homemaker wanted her legacy to be 1. someone who lived with the priorities of God, husband, and family, 2. a cool mom who was never too old or scared (and I might add busy) to ride on a roller coaster with her kids, and 3. a person who was never too busy to chat on the phone with a friend or meet someone for coffee.
That made sense to me.
If saving money at the grocery store meant giving my life to that very store, I was GLAD the Good Lord never allowed me to be good at being the coupon queen!
Still, you can and should, and now-a-days NEED TO, save money on groceries. Now… if you ask me how to save money on groceries, I would not recommend extreme couponing, but I do have some thoughts on some other ways.
What are the best ways to save money on groceries?
First, using coupons is a good way to make a dent in the cost of the purchases you make in the grocery store. There are many online printable coupons in addition to coupons in newspapers, from manufacturer’s websites, and from stores themselves. Just make sure you keep your coupon use in check; purchase only what you would anyway, and do what you feel comfortable doing and no more. Believe me, it sounds like being proficient at coupon use isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Then, get acquainted with blogs and websites that focus on sales, saving money, and being thrifty. You’ll find some blog owners who post weekly sales from Aldis and Walmart to CVS and Amazon.com. Knowing good sales that are coming up can be very helpful in keeping those dollars inside your wallet or purse. Again though, keep it all in perspective and don’t try to be like an internet personality that may seem to be saving all kinds of money by purchasing all kinds of sales items to store for the rest of their lives. Let those personalities be just what they are (which is fine) while you enjoy your family and friends and simply get some ideas on what is on sale that might save you some money this week, this month, or in your family’s immediate future.
Finally, think ahead and plan. I mentioned above that I struggle with this, but when I do get this part of my life under control, I find this way of living to be the absolutely BEST way to save money, be it in the grocery store or anywhere else. Food items, kids school needs, books, entertainment, family holidays, vacations…. WHATEVER…. can all be handled better financially if you have not waited until the last minute, or worse, to get what you need or do what you need to do. If you think ahead and plan (and that specifically includes menu planning if you are wanting to save money on groceries), you’ll be naturally finding the best purchases and keeping yourself from making the worst purchases, and THAT equates to making money at home and for your family.
Being good stewards of money is one thing, but when one particular way of saving money keeps you from being a good steward of your children, husband, friends, career, church work, or anything else in your life in general, it just does seem worth it.
The good news is that there are ways to save on the grocery bill that don’t cost an arm and a leg of your family time and life.