When a big idea comes into my mind, I don’t just think about it, I obsess. So it was with saving money and couponing. I follow a predictable pattern when this happens, whether it’s looking into a lesson plan idea (in my former life as a third grade teacher), creating a new recipe, or planning a vacation…It goes a little something like this:

  1. Idea is born.
  2. Think about idea incessantly.
  3. Commence non-stop Googling to find out as much as possible about said idea.
  4. Discover related tangent idea through Googling that I then begin obsessively Googling.
  5. Stay up way too late, thinking about and researching idea and all tangent ideas.
  6. Lie awake at night getting overly excited, thinking about what I will Google when I get up.

Knowing myself and this predictable pattern, I realized that I needed to set some ground rules for myself if I was going to investigate the world of couponing. So…here they are–Allison’s couponing guidelines to help me NOT get carried away.

  1. I WILL NOT compromise a healthy diet to save more money. (High value coupon for high fat product – I'll pass, thanks!)
  2. I WILL NOT buy items I do not need or will not use. (That is, I won’t go crazy enough to buy 100 packs of Ramen just because I can, knowing that no one in my house will eat it.)
  3. I WILL buy items in moderation and build a supply slowly. (This should, in theory, help limit how much time I spend researching deals each week.)
  4. I WILL NOT sacrifice time with family to focus on saving money. (This is a BIGGIE!)

I knew that #4 would be the most important ground rule to focus on. Before I even began to research couponing, I recognized that it could become an all-consuming hobby, which could then become a problem for this new stay-at-home mom. I decided upfront that I would only focus on this new obsession during baby's naps and after bedtime.

It's easy to get carried away with couponing–planning the next big haul or chasing after today's best freebies. I think it's important to take some time to assess your own priorities. Set some rules that can help YOU stay grounded in this crazy couponing world!

This has been a guest post by Allison from Durham, NC
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