As a graduate student in optometry school, I have to dedicate more than 70 hours a week to school, but I still make time for couponing because it’s a necessity (and because it's fun!) I don’t work since I want to dedicate my time to studying, and at the same time I need to help my husband save money because we’re living off of one source of income. By following a few simple tips, I'm able to spend only about three hours a week planning and shopping. Last week I bought two Colgate toothbrushes, two tubes of Crest toothpaste, three bottles of Tide detergent, four bottles of TRESemmé shampoo and two bottles of Bayer aspirin for only $11.38! It would have cost me $51.03 if I didn’t use coupons. I’m here to tell you that if you live a busy lifestyle, it’s still possible to still save at least 75% on household items every week if you’re dedicated. Below are some strategies I use that have helped me continue couponing despite my limited free time.
1. Limit the number of stores you go to
You don’t have to go to Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens every week since they pretty much sell the same things and the special deals get rotated. For example, just because CVS has a great deal on shampoo and Rite Aid has a special deal on toothpaste the same week doesn’t mean I’m going to go to both stores. I only need to go to one store because I know that in a couple of weeks CVS will have a toothpaste deal, or Rite Aid will have a shampoo deal I can take advantage of then.
2. Go to the same store
I usually go to the same CVS every week so I'm now familiar with where everything is in the store, which makes my shopping trips go by a lot faster! I’ve also built a good relationship with the sales rep who’s now more willing to help me with things like rain checks and locating items that are in the back of the store. Overall, she’s also more patient with my transactions because she’s more familiar with how couponing works.
3. Build a stockpile
During finals or when I have a big test coming up, I can afford to skip a week of couponing thanks to my stockpile. I have a stockpile with at least two months' worth of supplies to fall back on. If you’re new to couponing, one of your first priorities should be to build a stockpile, which shouldn’t be too hard if you follow the deals on KCL.
4. Be organized
Before I go on a shopping trip, I make a list that includes the coupons that I need for a deal. I use the list to double check my deals and to set up my transactions at the store. I also organize my coupon packets by date. By organizing this way, I only have to cut the coupons I need for the items on my shopping list, thus saving more time.
5. Dedicate your time on products that cost the most
The biggest shopping expenses I have to deal with are for personal care items and household products like laundry detergent and paper towels. Since these are the items that cost the most, I dedicate most of my couponing time on these products.
By following these simple strategies, I'm able to coupon for my family as well as for my in-laws. Plus, I still have plenty of items left over for my annual stockpile donation! When people say they don't have time to coupon, that's not a good enough excuse for me because even with my busy schedule, I make time. Hopefully this encourages you to make time, too!
This is a guest post by Lisa from Garden Grove, CA.