Habit # 5 – Learn to Rely On Yourself More is the last habit of The 5 Highly Effective Habits of Practical Couponers Series. It is important to learn to rely on yourself more and a little less on coupon blogs if you really want to save money in the long run.
Don’t Blindly Follow Coupon Blogs
Yes, this is a coupon blog, and yes, I am warning you NOT to just blindly follow my blog and others out there, but please hear me out for a minute to see why. When I began my coupon lifestyle journey not too long ago, I was following a super well known and highly publicized coupon blog for all of my coupon deals. What I started to notice over time was that the deals they posted weren’t always available in my area and for the same price range.
This was incredibly aggravating to me because I wanted to get the same or at least close to the same deals they were getting. I felt like my cartoon picture on the left – upset, angry, frustrated and fed up. I wanted to save as much or more than they were saving with their deals but it just wasn’t happening.
I later realized that I shouldn’t be blaming the bloggers so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I wanted to learn to rely on me, myself and I to find the best coupon deals instead of always depending on someone else to tell me when to shop or how to save money for my household.
We all know by now what YMMV (your mileage may vary) means, and if not, read this post about Coupon Lingo first and then come back to this one. My mileage varied so much that I wasn’t even sure we were shopping at the same stores. This blog was listing deals for sale items at major drug stores like CVS and Walgreens but those same items and prices were not available to me here in Central Texas.
I also noticed that the items that I frequently purchased used were not posted on the blogs. I later learned that those deals didn’t appeal to everyone, like my SPAM or Tone bodywash deals and the bloggers, myself included, typically post deals that get our readers to click through our websites or print from our coupon links.
I started to notice a pattern in the ads and the stores and I started to follow the sales cycles where I shopped. To read my previous post detailing how to start learning your local sales cycles then click here.
If you missed my previous posts in this series, start with Habit # 1 – Define your purpose and work you way through to this one, Habit # 5, which is last in this series.
It is now my mission to inform new and beginning couponers of the reality of couponing while teaching them to rely on themselves more. It is great when you first start out to follow and use a coupon blog to learn how to put together deals. But over time you should be using them less and less and you should have a better idea of when your local sales come around for the items you use and buy.
What do you do if and when you bloggers goes MIA?
I would often wonder what would happen if these bloggers ever got sick, went on vacation or just stopped posting deals for certain products and stores? Or what if they have a baby and go on maternity leave? What if they missed posting a deal on something I need? What if they went missing or were eaten by zombies like on The Walking Dead? What if….? What if….? What if….?
Okay, okay, a bit extreme, but you get the idea. People drop off the social media platforms everyday for whatever reason. But what would you honestly do if your coupon blogger suddenly stopped posting deals? Would you know where to start to find the deals for yourself?
After following my own local store ads for a few months, I noticed that the bloggers missed loads of deals for items I wanted or needed. But I couldn’t actually blame them. Now that I am a blogger myself I realize that it’s hard work to post deals and it’s next to impossible to post every deal scenario possible for every product in every single store.
I do want to you understand that I still do follow coupon blogs in general. Especially on social media because I want to know about the deals every week. But I usually don’t participate in every weekly deal because I am stocked up for the year and I don’t need or use the items.
If you want to follow an awesome, ethical and fellow practical couponer then follow my friend Jennifer King on her blogs Spend Less, Shop More and HEB Bargain Hunter. She taught me how to do some super extreme deals at HEB and the only reason why I understand how catalinas work is credited entirely to her and her blogs.
She posts deals daily and all day long so you will definitely be up to speed on the latest deals. Find her on Facebook and tsú and tell her I said hi! tsú is the new couponer’s social media platform that pays us to like, comment and share content. This means that couponers are actively posting and sharing the hottest deals, moneymakers and coupons there first.
To be honest, Facebook is so yesterday and you can’t see all of the new notifications. You can simply type in a hashtag like #couponnewbie, #couponcommunity and #thekoreancouponer and see all of the posts under that specific tag. All tsu users learn to hashtag and it’s easy once you get started so jump on the tsu bandwagon today! You need an invite link to join so use mine and click here to sign up.
Customize your coupon lifestyle to fit your needs
I noticed that my mentality changed a bit when I followed the coupon blogs for a time. I kept thinking that couponing made me feel like a gerbil running on a wheel and I was going and going but getting nowhere fast. This is also known as “burnout” and it happens all the time to new couponers.
I chased so many deals back then that my poor kids cried when I pulled in to the parking lot of Target – yet again – to get more Pantene shampoo and conditioner that I didn’t need, but thought I just HAD to have because I had coupons and it was on sale.
Now that I have gained some experience and insight, I coupon so much more efficiently and I realize that the time I spend on it is just as valuable as the money I spend or save with each transaction. I have decided to spend just a few hours each week to couponing and putting together my deals and more time with my family. I have shared my method for how I get it done in all of the previous posts of this series.
I spend just one month a year replenishing my depleted coupon stockpile and then I spend the rest of the year watching for deals on items I regularly use. I want to be sure and pay the absolute rock-bottom prices on these items so that I can save more money.
If you are new to couponing then keep in mind that your savings will multiply and grow. If you saved $0.25 today it will end up saving you $1.00 a few months from now and that $1.00, that started out as $0.25, has now multiplied to $5.00 in savings in one year. This kind of growth with savings is how you turn your pennies into dollars with coupons. Just keep in mind that the longer you coupon, the more you save each year.
Wham, Bam, Done!
I did a Tide Pods deal at Target in December and I bought enough laundry detergent to last the entire year in just two transactions. I purchased 6 canisters of Tide Pods for $41 after coupons, rebates, discounts, etc. That gives me 336 pods and I could do 1 load of laundry everyday for 11 months at a cost of 12¢ a load. I posted the video I made of this deal on my Facebook Fanpage. Click here if you want to see it.
Sure, I can chase the weekly deals and just buy them in the smaller 14-ct packs but that will cost me my time to clip the coupons, time to find the deals, gas and time to get to the store and then I have to hope that the shelves aren’t cleared before I get there. The “wham, bam, done!” one stop, one shop deal is so much more appealing to me.
I would not necessarily call myself a “lazy” couponer, but I am not going to chase down deals every week for the same product. If you do happen to shop every week and you enjoy it, then please understand that I am not judging you, slamming you or belittling you for it.
I know many stay-at-home moms who get their socializing fix from doing weekly shopping trips together and I think it’s a great way to socialize. But if you’re a busy introvert mom like me, then you want to get it done once and forget about it for six months to a year.
If I do shop every week then I have to spend more of my time, more money in gas and purchasing newspapers and more time driving from store to store. This also means more time strapping my toddler in and out of a carseat and hoping he doesn’t get tired of getting carted around to umpteen dozen stores. If he does get tired of it all then it’s a Scream-A-Thon until we get home. Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t had to sit through one in the middle of traffic!
I have learned that my coupon currency comes in either time or money and I will sacrifice the few dollars I might save if I can get it done in one trip for the entire year. And those few dollars that I might have saved chasing the weekly deal would cost me my peace of mind. In the end it all works out in the wash anyhow.
Become a Deal Prediction Analyst
I have actually already covered this in a previous post – Habit # 3 – Learn Your Local Sales Cycles in the series but I included it again for those who might be reading it for the first time in this last post of The 5 Highly Effective Habits of Practical Couponers Series.
I am only purchasing items that are at rock bottom prices with coupons, discounts, store promotions, etc. when “actively couponing” to replenish my stockpile. I happen to know when they are at rock bottom prices because I’ve just spend the entire last year tracking all of this in my spreadsheets every week. You see, I am already a Deal Prediction Analyst and I am telling you my secrets!
The only way you will ever learn to find your own deals or become a Deal Prediction Analyst is to learn your local sales cycles. Coupon bloggers, myself included, write posts about the deals going on in our neck of the woods. I live in Central Texas so the deals at my local H-E-B grocery store are completely irrelevant for someone living in Northern Utah because H-E-B doesn’t reach that far north yet!
What is a Deal Prediction Analyst and why do you need to become one? It’s my technical name for anyone who can foretell the upcoming sales or deals based on data they gathered from the past. Kind of like a weatherman predicting the weather except you used real data to help you predict the future sales forecast. You need to become one so that you can take full advantage of maximizing savings for you and your family.
As I mentioned earlier, I spend only one month out of the entire year actively couponing and replenishing my stockpile. When I began my coupon stockpile, it only took me four months to build it up and then I quit actively couponing for the other eight months and started to really track my own sales cycles using my spreadsheets.
I “coupon” all year long so when I refer to “actively couponing” what I mean is that I purchase multiples of the newspapers, between 10 to 20 of them, and use them to get deals that replenish my depleted stockpile. The rest of the year is spent buying only what I need in newspapers for coupon inserts, items that I need or run low on in my stockpile and tracking the sales and trends.
When I purchase these items, I am purchasing enough to last at least 6-12 months so that I don’t have to chase deals every week and every month. I save both time and money using my Practical Couponing for Busy People Methods and this is an example of one of those method hacks.
If you have just started out couponing or stockpiling then you won’t be at this level until AFTER you tracked the sales cycles of your local stores for at least one year. Don’t get discouraged though, remember that you are creating a new lifestyle with new habits. It takes making small changes, repeatedly and over time, and those small changes add up to impact your wallet in a big way.
You are definitely going to save money by using coupons. If you spend $2000 a year on groceries and household items and managed to average just 10% in total savings with coupons then you’ve saved your family $200 for the entire year. This method hack helps you see how to take it to the next level and to think ahead for next year.
Each year that use you this method will reap bigger savings and more financial freedom. Imagine if you jumped your savings up to 50% the next year!! What could you do with an extra $1000???
I used all of my savings from this last year to purchase a new fridge and the old one went into my garage and is now known as the “kimchi” fridge. Kimchi is a Korean fermented spicy cabbage condiment, think of spicy sauerkraut, that is so healthy and good for you but oh-so-stinky at times! My extra fridge will also hold my surplus milk, lunch meats, eggs, coffee creamer, yogurt and anything else I need to feed my family of five. My goal next year is to purchase an upright freezer that can sit next to my fridge!
Maintain Control of Your Finances
When you utilize all of my tips in this series, you will gain more control over your finances. It will help you turn your pennies into dollars, buy you peace of mind and possibly resolve some family issues over finances.
Learning your local sales cycles will help you gain better understanding of the deals going on at your stores. Using spreadsheets to help you keep track of sales and store promotions prepare you when you stockpile or replenish because you know when the prices are at their lowest rock bottom. Using my list to contact companies and brands for coupons also helps you save more money and do kick ass deals! Read my post Successful Couponing with Spreadsheets to see what I mean.
The key to it all is to find your perfect balance and develop your own system that works for you. Do it all with a purpose and goal and you will always stay on track and avoid “burnout.”
Do I really have to become a cheapskate to save money?
I openly admit that I had feelings of fear and doubt when I first started couponing. I would read posts on coupon blogs about how they did a vacation on a dime by camping out in the wilderness instead of staying in a hotel and they ate for free by fishing for their dinner. Or how they save hundreds of dollars a year by make their own clothes, gifts, soaps and lotions, laundry detergent and fabric softener or other such frugal ways of living.
I would get really freaked out and think “Is this how my life is going to be forever?” Living for the next cheap “thrill” or coupon deal all my life? Or worse, will we have to sell our house and move into a pop-up camper or mini-house just to get by?
The good news is that the answer is no. Couponing and saving money is always the hardest in the beginning, when you are first learning and creating your own system but it gets so much easier after the first year. If you ever feel like quitting and giving up then know that you are closer than you think to getting it all down to a system that works for you….so press on and enjoy that victory!
I have literally saved my family of 5 thousands of dollars in the last 12 months and we are saving more money each year. The savings from couponing grows in multiples and time, so you can’t think of it in terms of simple math. Coupon Math helps but doesn’t quite cover it all. You will find that the $0.50 you saved on a product last year and stockpiled will end up saving you $25 this year. And that $25 this year will become $100 in savings next year.
Helping your turn your pennies into dollars
Those pennies you saved will quickly turn into dollars and those dollars turn into hundreds or thousands per year. We have saved enough to pay off some bills, purchase necessities for our family and stash a small little savings nest egg for emergencies. I didn’t have to go out and get a job or take a ton of time away from my family. Instead I coupon a few hours each week using my Practical Couponing for Busy People Methods, and here we are!
The key point I want you to understand is that in the beginning, you will work really hard to save money with couponing. You have to take the time to find your deals, get your coupons, shop store to store and stockpile. As well as learn your local sales cycles and contact companies for coupons and samples. And you might not think that it’s worth it all just to save a few dollars here and there but I want to be very clear on this, it is more than just worth it.
It will take at least three or four months for you to see your grocery bill cut in half. It will cut in half again in another three months if you stick to a budget, track your local sales cycles and only stock up when items are at their rock bottom prices. After creating this new habit or lifestyle and learning more about saving money, you will see that you have more money and more flexibility over time, especially after the first year.
Buying your own peace of mind
Knowing that you have a coupon stockpile will give you peace of mind and help you sleep at night because you know you and your family will survive if anyone suffers a job loss, illness or any unforeseen circumstance, like a zombie apocalypse. (I’ve been catching up on missed episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix lately – to explain why I keep referencing zombies.)
I am also a firm believer that gaining control of your finances, especially with a budget, will eliminate many fights about money in marriages and it will teach your children that money is a tool and you direct how it’s used. Stress over finances is the number one reason for families to break up not to mention the toll it takes on your health if you constantly worry over it.
I hope that you enjoyed The 5 Highly Effective Habits of Practical Couponers Series and that you will use the tips I shared to streamline your couponing lifestyle.
I will talk more in depth in a future post about to turn your pennies into dollars with couponing and stockpiling.
I will share with you how I actually make my own yearly purchases and breakdown the deals.
And finally, I plan to write up a series of posts about how to create a realistic family budget with an easy to follow step-by-step guide and downloadable spreadsheet.
Don’t want to miss the upcoming habits and hacks of my Practical Couponing for Busy People Methods Series? Want to see the latest Money Saving Coupon Recipes? Subscribe and have them delivered to your inbox! Don’t worry…it’s safe and I won’t spam you…I honestly don’t have the time or energy to flood your inbox with more useless stuff!
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