Bargain specialist in just an hour a week
I remember the first day I watched TLC’s Extreme Couponer and, I was immediately hooked. I watched in amazement as totals increased into the high hundreds. At the end of being rung up, her bill was $600 plus. But she paid less than $9 for the whole thing! And, as the show progressed, I saw people ring up $1,000 of merchandise and pay NOTHING for it! Nothing? I still watch the show when it airs, even the repeats. They motivate me to continue being a bargain specialist until I can get my totals to look like that. But one glaring recurrence in all the shows I have watched is that they spend so much time to get their deals. Episode after episode, you hear them say they spend upwards of 20 to 40 hours a week clipping coupons, searching for deals and even scoping the store before they have a major haul. In today’s world, where time is the most expensive commodity, most aren’t able to make such a huge time investment on couponing. But that does not mean you can’t find less time expensive ways to save. At just one hour per week, you can stretch your budget in unimaginable ways.
I usually will plan out all the savings I will do for the week on Sunday. The paper with all the weekly deals comes on Sunday morning and by that evening, I’m sitting down with it, a pen and paper to chart out where I’m going for which deal. It’s better to do it on Sunday because you give yourself ample time to get through all the deals that week and, you ensure that you get to the stores as soon as possible to have the best selection. If you wait to Thursday, for example, you will only have 3 days before the week is over and all the product you want will likely be gone to other early shoppers. You can always get a rain check on a product but, that’s not the best option, especially if you have expiring coupons you had planned to use. I give myself 60 minutes to spend on it. With 2 young kids and a plethora of other activities, I can’t afford much more time than that right now.
I start with the coupon inserts and just do a quick flip through – 5 minutes. I try to make a mental note of what coupons are available to me that week so that when I look through the ads next, I already know which coupon can be used on which item. I then move to the ads. I have about 5 stores that I look at closely – page by page, deal by deal – 35 minutes or so. The other ads just get a quick glance for anything that is too good a deal to pass up – 10 minutes. Once I have jotted down every store I want to visit and the deals I will get at each store, I start clipping all the coupons, setting aside the ones I plan to use that week and inserting the rest in their place in my coupon wallet – 10 mins. That’s one hour a week. Some days it will extend by 15 mins and other days it will decrease by 30 mins. It just depends on the amount of deals in a week and how many coupon inserts are available.
Time is a luxury when you have a busy life like mine. So you don’t have to spend all your free time looking for deals. Be a bargain specialist with just 1 hour a week.