I am currently fighting coupon fatigue – and it is a nasty case!
Usually I really enjoy the rush that comes from saving money with coupons. But as life’s seasons ebb and flow, I find that there are times when using coupons is just too much for me to worry about.
Right now we are preparing for a large event at our house and are really working hard on projects and party prep. My usual grocery store reduced their policy on expired coupons last year, moving from accepting them 90 days after expiration to just 30 days after expiration. I tried out our Super Target and while I like their store brand, I find the selection on certain items to be lacking. Both stores now have electronic couponing, where you can select coupons electronically and save them to a card or app to use during check out. I have been working on using those, but any new system has a learning curve.
Perhaps it is the frustration of trying to learn some new systems combined with project fatigue, but I was just in the store today, and I had no interest in worrying about coupons. I feel very over it at the moment. I guess I have just had too many incidents of clipping and saving electronically, only to find something else on sale cheaper anyway when I get to the store. Or the restriction means it would not work for what I want to buy, etc.
I used to spend about 30 minutes a week cutting coupons and planning out my grocery shopping and I would regularly see a savings of 40% on my grocery bill. I felt that return was worth my 30 minute investment, and with my store accepting coupons for 90 days after expiration, I had a longer window to use the coupons. Now, even with giving coupons a good effort, I usually can only save about 10-20%. And my overall bill has still increased. It is frustrating, to say the least.
Even though coupons are frustrating me, I do not have a desire to pay top dollar for foods, so here are the strategies I am using while I am fighting coupon fatigue:
- Grow My Own. Gardening is fun and delicious. Even if you just grow some greens in a container on your patio, you will see a large return on your investment. Plus, you will have fresh lettuce whenever you need it! We got our garden in before the crazy started and now it just takes a few minutes a week to keep up with the weeds as our food grows.
- Take a Mid-Week Inventory. It is always a good idea to limit the food you need to throw out, but during this season I actually clean out the refrigerator mid-week just so I can make sure we use up ingredients or leftovers (or freeze them) before they go bad.
- Buy Store Brands. There are some things I will only buy the brand name of, but for 90% of our foods, store brands work just fine. Whether that is Cub Foods’ Everyday Essentials, Target’s Market Pantry or buying Aldi’s store brands, I would rather not pay for advertising when purchasing my food.
- Stock the Pantry. When the store brands are on sale, I stock our pantry so we can buy when the prices are lower and eat from our pantry when the prices go back up.
- Eat From The Pantry. I have been peering into the recesses of our pantry, refrigerator and freezer making an effort to eat foods before they reach the end of the line. This utilizes our previous food purchases, which delaying more purchases at higher prices for just a little longer.
- I Still Keep an Eye Out for High Value Coupons. Just because I am on a coupon hiatus, I still notice coupons and when I come across a high value coupon for a product I KNOW we will purchase, I save it. That is just picking the low hanging fruit – always a bright idea.
Are you fighting coupon fatigue? Do you agree that you seem to be saving less now with coupons than, say, 18 months ago? Any other ideas to save money without coupons?