Friday, February 3, 2012

Frugal Friday: Saving Money Without Coupons

I realize that this confession might make you lose confidence in me. It might be the beginning of my entire ruin! But I'm going to share it anyway:

I don't coupon!


yes, it's true, believe it or not.

Don't get me wrong, I love saving money! And if a coupon lands in my lap at just the right time for something that I was already going to buy, sure I'll use it! But I don't pursue coupons. Have I ever? Yes I did for a short time. And here's what I found:
  1. Couponing takes time - a lot of it! There's the clipping, the organizing, the shuffling, the surfing, the price matching, the shopping, the drooling, etc...It's very time consuming!
  2. Couponing takes more skills than I have - First of all there's the organizing in a binder or folder or however you choose to organize the little guys. But also you have to keep track of expiration dates and shuffle through them in the store (hoping a gust of wind or another crazy coupon-er doesn't come up and whoosh them all away). And there's a huge possibility that you will find yourself in hysterics when the baby destroys $1 by drooling all over one. Believe me, I speak from experience!
  3. Coupons encourage spending and buying products that I wouldn't normally buy - This is another one of those things where I look at the situation very logically. Do coupon's really save you money? Well, that depends. People always share their stories of saving hundreds of dollars on a store grocery trip and then share pictures of what they purchased and give their total savings. I always look at those things very skeptically. Are there people who save money with coupons? I have no doubt that there are! But I believe that the general coupon-er is actually saving a lot less than they think they are. The real story should be a comparison of 1) What you would have normally bought at the grocery store to meet your needs and 2) what you actually bought (plus the ten other trips to the store you had to make because you didn't buy what you need the first time). 30 boxes of cereal isn't going to feed my family for a week (at least not the way I want to feed them) even if I got the entire bunch of them for only $30. Yes I saved $100, but I didn't buy what I needed. And I ended up spending more money in the long run because I had to go back to the store and buy the rest of my groceries. Sure there's a lot of savings going on with couponing, but I found myself buying more expensive products that I wouldn't normally buy just because I had a coupon for them and could save a few cents. 
  4. Coupons encourage me to buy food that is not healthy - Coupons for foods that do not fall under the category of "processed" are few and far between. Do they exist? Sure, but they are hard to come by and often not very significant savings. Thus, if you use coupons you are being encouraged to eat foods that are processed (obviously - that's the whole reason manufacturers give out coupons in the first place - to get you to eat foods that they produce). So what about the toothpaste, shampoo, etc type products? To me, it's not worth it to coupon only for those things. 
So I stopped couponing and I found that if I used the time differently, I can still save in drastic ways, without the drawbacks of coupons. Here's a few ideas to help you save time AND money:
  1. Shop Less - this is an obvious one. The less time you are in the store, the less things you buy that you don't need and the more you save. I do my grocery shopping every other week - sometimes I've even gone longer. It really does work to save you money AND time!
  2. Waste not, want not - this old adage is so very true! There's so much waste and it's such a shame. I cringe to think about it. Teach your kids to not take more than they can eat, teach them to eat the crusts from their bread, to squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste from the bottle, etc. etc. It is so important! Simple things really do add up. Turn off lights that aren't in use, turn off water in between rinsing dishes, take shorter showers, turn down the heat or turn off the air conditioning, eat leftovers. There are so many ways to save money that fall under this category.
  3. Re-use and re-purpose - not only is this good for the environment but it's great for saving money. Wear your clothes more than once if they don't stink. Use a towel more than once. Cut off jeans and make them into shorts. Save older children's clothes for the younger ones. Patch your jeans, mend clothes that rip, save old clothes to use as rags. 
  4. Only buy what you need - even if it's on sale! 
  5. Make your own food - now you may wonder about this one. How is it really saving me time AND money. But I can tell you for a fact that it does. I can make a pizza from start to finish in 40 minutes at significantly less cost than purchasing one from a pizza place (I'll have to do a frugal friday post on it some time). By the time you order the pizza, pack everyone into the car and go pick it up (or wait for them to have it delivered), you've spent at least 40 minutes! Making your own convenience foods from scratch will not only help you eat healthier, but it will save you time from having to worry about all those stupid coupons. Make some and freeze it - that's a great way to have easy, fast food that you need in emergencies.
  6. Do it yourself - Mow your own lawn, change your own oil, give your kid's haircuts, paint your house, etc. There are so many ways to save money by learning to do things yourself.
  7. Walk or ride your bike -  My husband has been riding his bike to work on the good weather days - about 7.5 miles each way. He can ride it both ways in the same amount of time it would take to commute plus do his daily exercise - and this way he gets them both done in one shot and saves money on gas! I love to walk places with the kids - sometimes we'll walk to the library, the park, the grocery store (if I only need an item or two). It's so enjoyable to spend time together and encourages kids to enjoy the process of doing things instead of just the results.
  8. Other ideas: Drink water instead of soda or juice, eat smaller portions, buy items you use regularly in bulk, make toys instead of buy them, buy produce in season, have meatless meals, buy store or generic brand items...The list goes on and on.
There's so many ways you can easily save money and time. When you practice these habits in your families, you are teaching your children the important values of thrift, frugality, taking care of the earth and our bodies, living within our means, and controlling our desires. Those things are so important to teach as you build a healthy family. Need more ideas? Here's some great articles I found on this topic that I enjoyed:

Ways you can save money without changing your spending 
(make sure you read the comments on this post)

How to save money on groceries without coupons.

$4/week on groceries? No thanks.

You can save money without coupons

Saving money on groceries without coupons

You Don’t Need Extreme Couponing to Save Money on Food Costs

I love this free chapter from the book: The Money Saving Mom's budget

What about you? How do you save money?

Linked to Frugal Friday


Mrs. Green Toes said...

I'm with you on this one!! For the SAME exact reasons. I can't afford to coupon. Seriously. Not in time or $$. 10 bottles of mustard do me no good, not really.

I tend to shop places that don't take coupons...and they STILL cost way less then using a coupon somewhere else.

When I try to tell someone who is preaching to me about using coupons to save money, they get SO OFFENDED if I tell them it doesn't work for ME.
"I must be doing it wrong" ;)
Maybe, but I don't eat fish sticks and frozen dinners, either so it would be a waste.

Lisa said...

When I watch extreme couponing I always pay attention to how many hours the woman coupons. Most, who extreme coupon, spend enough time to equal a full time job. She will save 1,000 at the check-out each month. If I spent 40 hours a week doing anything, I hope it would produce a higher return.

Heather {Healthy Family Cookin} said...

I agree, Lisa and Mrs. Green Toes! Thanks for your comments.

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