I started this blog almost two years ago and since then, I have had many people comment that they don’t know how I “do it all.” So, to start off my post today, I want to clear up any misconceptions. I’m not Super Woman and I definitely am not able to “do it all.” Like many other moms, I struggle to find the balance between all of the different roles that I have in my life: mom, wife, employee, chef, maid, etc. and to find time for myself. Bargain hunting is just one more role in the mix and I have a confession to make: I don’t spend all of my time at CVS, Walgreens, Target, or Kroger and some weeks I don’t even visit some (or any) of those stores!
From my experience, once you become a bargain hunter/extreme couponer, you tend to go in cycles. When you first discover bargain hunting and how to use coupons, you experience this adrenaline rush and somehow it tends to overtake your life for awhile. You find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with CVS scenarios on your mind. Then, at some point, you experience a burn out and perhaps guilt about not having the energy or motivation to do ANY deals.
The key is finding a balance between the two extremes! Here are some things that have worked for me along the way:
I have found that it helps for me to prioritize all of my responsibilities and then set limits for myself. So, for bargain hunting my goal may be to build up my stockpile of toilet paper or canned vegetables and so if a hot deal on toothpaste comes along, I have to stop and ask myself if I really “need” all of that toothpaste when I already have 10 tubes sitting in a bin already? Do I really “need” to drag myself and my kids to 10 different stores on a Saturday or would that time be better spent doing something with my family?
If you are new to using coupons, you may be wondering what “stock up” prices are and if you should really jump on a deal. If you’ve started reading message boards and blogs, sometimes it’s easy to be caught up in some of the “deals” that are posted, but sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself if a “deal” is really a “deal” if it’s something you don’t need and won’t use.
I can pretty much guarantee you that you will be able to find a “deal” on toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and razors at least once a month and by “deal” I mean that you will be able to get those items for free or close to free. Once you build up a stockpile of those items, you have the freedom of being able to skip those deals sometimes knowing that another one will come around before your stash is gone. It’s harder to find deals on items like toilet paper or paper towels, so when I see a good deal on those items, I jump on it. If you want ideas about “stock up prices,” check out my post on “What I’m Willing to Pay for Things” (keep in mind that pricing can vary greatly depending on where you live and also, I’m starting out with a stockpile).
Most grocery items run in sales cycles of 6-8 weeks and over time, you get a feel for those sale cycles. There are also certain times of the year that are “stock up” times for grocery items. August and September are good months to stock up on things like cereal, oatmeal, and peanut butter with back to school sales. October and November are good months to stock up on canned vegetables and canned broth as well as baking items (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, baking mixes, etc.) because there are very good sale prices. March is “frozen foods month” so you can usually get very good deals on frozen food items during that month.
Once you learn the ropes of extreme couponing, organization becomes key. Otherwise, you soon find that coupons, canned goods, toilet paper, and toothbrushes are taking over your house. Come up with an organization system to store what you have. Food Storage Made Easy has some great ideas for creative ways to store items in small spaces here. You also have to come up with a plan for coupon organization. I plan to post more on this in another post. You can organize your coupons in a binder (get dividers and baseball card holders to organize your coupons in a binder) or you can store your whole inserts and just clip what you need. Most blogs do match-ups based on the insert and date. I write the insert date on the outside with a Sharpie and then file it in a hanging file folder by month.
Give yourself permission to take a break
If you start to feel burned out, give yourself permission to step back and take a break!! It’s OK! 🙂
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