Friday, November 7, 2014

Why I Stopped Couponing (And How I'm Still Saving Money)

Before Junior was born, I was all about couponing. I would look through the ads while comparing them to my coupons, and had a coupon box I would bring with me every time I went shopping. I routinely got products for free (even if I didn't use them), and several times received cash overages after a grocery shopping trip!

But, after he was born and days became hectic and crazy and exhausting, and I started homeschooling Tater at about the same time, I had to stop. I didn't have time to eat, much less sit and clip or print coupons and compare ads. Meals became simpler, shopping trips became more infrequent, and coupons slowly died off in my little world. Here are the top reasons I stopped couponing, and the ways I'm still saving money:

1. Time
I used to spend at least an hour a week clipping coupons and comparing prices. I would spend another 2 hours weekly driving to stores and shopping for the items I was going to use coupons for. I decided that those extra three hours a week could be better used, such as making food from scratch while Junior napped, planning out my menu with ingredients from the pantry or making the most of leftovers, or planting a garden (or watering the garden my husband planted =)). All of those efforts combined to save me significantly more than the $10 a week average I was saving in coupons, and I ended up with more time to spend with my family.

2. Product Availability
Whenever there was a good coupon deal, and thousands of money saving bloggers had already alerted the masses, I would find our store shelves empty. Often, I had just gone to the store just for those several items, and ended up wasting time, energy, and gas for nothing. By going to the store less frequently, and only for items I really need, I save money on gas and on impulse buys.

3. Item Quality
We've been trying to eat healthier, and that means we rarely eat items that most coupons advertise.We eat more fresh fruits and veggies, more simple meals, and less packaged goods than we used to. Even with coupons (or possibly because of coupons), I used to spend a lot on snack foods, even if we didn't end up eating them, just so I could use the coupon. Now, I get most of our snack foods from Trader Joes, which are often organic but still less expensive than their brand name grocery store counterparts. We eat mostly organic now, and my grocery budget has actually gone down $20 a week because I buy so much less pre-packaged items. Fruits and vegetables and high quality items don't have to be expensive. In season fruits and vegetables are often very inexpensive.

On occasion I will clip a coupon for something I need to purchase anyway, and the Target Cartwheel App has been a hassle free way to save, but gone are the days of crazy couponing. In exchange, I have more time, a lower budget, and we're eating healthier.

Do You Coupon? Why or Why Not? Join in the Conversation on Twitter or Facebook!

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