So I'm giving this couponing thing a try, inspired by D.O. Wife. I've tried it before with minimal success, but I think I've finally wrapped my brain around why.
I need to start thinking of meal planning according to what I have or can get rather than my usual method of whatever I'm in the mood for making. Sort of like an extended pantry challenge. This was a real breakthrough for me because I never understood how couponing could actually save me any money.
In my usual shopping this weekend, I tried it three times, with varying success. The pantry is full, but it's full of things that I haven't quite decided how to use. It's not necessarily a problem because of my pantry challenge experience, but it will be different for certain. One thing is sure. This weekend's shopping definitely made me realize that couponing is going to take quite a lot of time.
One successful trip didn't take too long, but just a bit longer than usual. In that one I saved 50% off my total purchase, and those were actually all things that we buy anyway.
The other successful trip took a lot of time. Like three hours. Three hours is a ridiculously long time to spend grocery shopping for me. Normally I'm in and out in about an hour. I saved 34% on that trip. That is skewed though, since I bought the Kung Fu Panda DVD, which isn't a grocery or health/beauty item. If I take out that, my savings was about 50% again.
At the third store I saved 34%, factoring out the Christmas gifts and bath towels I bought.
I should note that I would have made these shopping trips anyway. None of them were special trips to use the coupons. If they had been, I probably would have to factor in gas and such.
At the moment, my one concern is time -- time to find the coupons, time to match them to sale prices -- because extra time is in short supply.
So ... anyone else use coupons? Got any advice or thoughts? I'm game to try.