I love getting your emails and reading your comments on this blog. I’m happy to answer any question I am able to, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re confused about something.
Recently, I got this email from a reader in northern California who has been trying without much success to save money through coupons. She’s about at the end of her rope. Here’s her question and my advice, but I’d love for you to chime in, too.
I really appreciate the inspiration to save money from a Jewish perspective. I grew up in a family that was bad with money and my husband and I seem to be following in those footsteps unfortunately. I started reading your blog in August and have been trying to do some of the drug store shopping and other deals you recommend. We don’t have the same supermarkets that you do, but we do have a Target of course. The thing is I am really not having any luck. I can’t seem to keep track of my newspaper coupons and I feel like I’m wasting so much money on printing the online ones. Half the time, when I get to the store, I realize I forgot a coupon I needed at home, which completely throws off my whole trip. It’s just not working for me, and I don’t know what to do now.
Okay, so first off, I’d say you are probably taking on too much all at once. Two months ago, I’m guessing you were just throwing whatever looked good in your cart and now you are trying to go to completely the opposite extreme. It’s too much, too soon. Not to mention that it sounds like you might have some “baggage” about money from your family — most of us do — and that’s likely affecting how you feel about your ability to stick to a budget in the first place.
So, here’s what I suggest: Take a break from coupons. I know, I know, I keep telling you how important it is to combine sales with coupons and now I’m telling you to forget about the coupons. You’ll get back to it, sooner than you think, but you need to take baby steps to get there.
My advice is to first focus on the drugstore deals – I like CVS the best, but if you have a Walgreens or Rite Aid in your area, there are plenty of bloggers doing deal match-ups for those stores. Build up a nice little stockpile of free toothpaste and inexpensive shampoo and bargain toilet paper. All the while, track your spending, so you can see the progress that you are making. That progress will embolden you and give you confidence in your ability to save money in other spheres.
To steal an idea from Dave Ramsey: You didn’t learn these spending habits over night, and you’re not going to correct them overnight either. (She says from personal experience! And with much faltering along the way, up until today!) Pay attention, work the deals at the drug store, and then — slowly — add in more aspects of deal shopping for your groceries.
What do you think? Do you agree with my advice to take a giant step back and then baby steps forward? If you’re a coupon shopper, did you ever have periods of coupon burnout? (I know I do!) What advice can you offer to my California reader?