Couponing is often shown to people as a great idea for saving money on groceries, cleaning products, and other essential household goods. Unfortunately, nearly every guide to couponing says that it will take several hours every week. Most people with full-time jobs just don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to grocery shopping. Fortunately, there are several ways to cut down on the time involved, and still work on saving money.
1. Get coupons quickly. There are plenty of places to buy, sell, and trade coupons with people in your commmunity or across the globe. Most of them will waste your time. Instead of spending hours hunting down coupons, stick to the Sunday paper and a website. The paper will give you paper versions of coupons, while the website will allow you to print second copies or just download them to your phone or keychain card. This will most likely give you a maximum of two coupons per product, but that’s probably all you really need anyway.
2. Don’t stockpile. While it’s possible to get fifty bottles of free ketchup if you try hard enough, the truth is that most of it will go bad before your family ever uses it. Really think about the amount of stuff your family can eat before it goes bad. After all, it doesn’t make sense to spend money driving to the store to get stuff you’ll eventually just throw in the trash.
3. Don’t buy things you don’t need, and don’t waste time clipping coupons for them. If you don’t have a dog, you don’t buy dog food. You shouldn’t even stock up on potentially free dog food. Let go of any fantasies involving donating it to charity. Focus only on what you and your household will use.
4. Keep organization simple. You don’t need an alphabetized binder. Instead, buy a small accordion file and sort by aisles in the grocery store. Before you shop, check local ads and pull out the coupons you’re going to use. Then, leave the rest of the coupons at home. This will prevent you from impulse shopping by forcing you to stick to a list.
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5. Get the kids involved. Kids as young as four are able to cut out coupons along the dotted lines. By the time they’re in elementary school, they should be able to sort the coupons into piles of vegetables, canned goods, boxed meals, etc. Middle and high schoolers can even plan meals based around the grocery ads and what’s on hand in the house. Not only will you save time, but everyone will get an economics lesson in saving money.