Buying Groceries on a Budget: Couponing Misconceptions

This week, I wanted to talk about Buying Groceries on a Budget: Couponing Misconceptions.

Before I started this blog, I actually stayed away from using coupons. My thinking of coupons was that when you used a coupon, you still paid more for a name brand product than if you just purchased the store brand using no coupons. And yes, this can be the case if you don’t know when the right time is to use the coupons. Later in this “Buying Groceries on a Budget” series, I’ll give more information on how to use coupons correctly.

First, I want to clear up some misconceptions that I think people often assume about couponers and clipping coupons:

1)  Misconception 1: You have to be a crazy coupon lady to save money on your grocery bill.
This isn’t true. I’m not one of those ladies with stacks of coupons and a massive coupon binder. I only have a small coupon pouch that easily fits into my purse. I do enjoy finding good coupons and deals, but it’s important for the every-day person to know that they can save money on groceries without spending hours and hours of clipping and organizing coupons. You need to be willing to do some couponing, but it’s not the main focus.

2)  Misconception 2: You can only find really good deals or pick up products for free on items such as junk food, boxed foods and pre-packaged foods that aren’t that healthy.
False. First of all, I don’t buy many boxed, pre-packaged or junk food items. Purchasing hundreds of items such as Top Ramen for free is notpart of providing healthy meals for my family. I mainly make homemade meals from scratch, and I am starting to do more freezer cooking so I have quick meals I can pull out at the last minute. In fact, most of my weekly grocery lists consist mainly of produce, dairy and meat.  

In reality, most of us won’t walk out of the store with hundreds of items in our cart with a grocery total of $0.01. But with the simple tips I share in this “Buying Groceries on a Budget” series, you will be able to walk out of the store with really good deals, which will help to cut down your grocery bill considerably.

3)  Misconception 3 – “I don’t have time for coupons.” 
I laugh at myself because I used to say this. Life is busy and there are constantly a hundred demands pulling us in different directions. But adding a few minutes here and there to clip some coupons doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you’ve never used a coupon, don’t expect to immediately save 90% off your grocery bill. It takes some time to learn how to use coupons. But clipping coupons is going to save you money.

4)  Misconception 4 – “I tried using coupons, but I didn’t save any money.”
If you use nearly every coupon you clip, then you are notgoing to save any money. Instead, you’d probably end up buying a lot of over-priced items you wouldn’t normally buy or won’t use, and you’ll end up spending a significant amount more than you save. This is not how to effectively use coupons.

Couponing to save money doesn’t have to take hours out of your week. You could see considerable savings by committing to spend an extra hour each week to make a menu plan, write out a grocery list, follow a few couponing and deal websites, clip coupons, and check sales fliers.

Using coupons wisely requires patience. It involves waiting until an item is at its rock-bottom price, which is the lowest price you’ll see it at a store, and then pairing it with a coupon so that you get it inexpensively or free!

Other Posts in the Buying Groceries on a Budget Series:
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Buying Groceries on a Budget: How to Determine a Budget

How to Buy Groceries on a Budget This past month, I spent a lot of time preparing to teach a class about “Buying Groceries on a Budget.” I received many comments from those who attended about how informative it was. So over the next few months, I will be posting a series of articles on this topic to hopefully encourage and help all of you too. This week, we will begin with how to figure a grocery budget for your family.

Determining a grocery budget will save you money and frustration. Without a budget, all of the work you do to find deals and clip coupons will NOT save you money. You might be purchasing a lot of amazing deals out there, but in fact, you might be spending more money in an effort to save money.  Rather than spending money freely, a budget controls your spending. Here are some simple steps to take on how to determine your grocery budget.

 

Buying Groceries on a Budget - How to Determine a Budget Final

1)Evaluate Your Spending
First, look at what you have spent on groceries over the last four weeks and take an average. Eventually, you are going to cut down your budget, but don’t cut it in half right now.

2)Be Realistic
Don’t place excessive pressure on yourself by coming up with some extremely low figure for your grocery budget. Set realistic expectations so you won’t get discouraged and give up. You want to be able to persevere and see the long-lasting benefits.

3)Pay Attention to How Much You Waste
Are you throwing away more than you are eating? If you are, then you are throwing away money. Try cutting back on those food items you are throwing away or find a creative way to use them.

4)Slowly Lower Your Budget
It takes time and practice to reduce your original grocery budget fairly significantly. You are not going to cut your grocery bill in half this month. However, slowly challenge yourself to slowly start cutting 5% here and 5% there from your grocery budget. Within 8-10 months, it’s possible to have lowered it by 30-50% or more.

5)Try a Cash-Only Budget
It is easy to justify over spending when you are using a debit or credit card. With each paycheck, take out the amount of cash you will need for the month to buy groceries, and place it in an envelope. Then calculate how much you can use each week. Paying with cash forces you to stick to your budget and you’ll quickly see how easy it is to overspend. You will be more likely to carefully evaluate every purchase or great deal you find, and you’ll begin to ask yourself, “Is this in the budget?” and “Do I need this?”

A good rule of trying to determine a budget for your family is about $100 per person per month. Our family of five has a grocery budget of $400 a month. I usually only spend about $300 a month at the grocery store, and with the rest of the money, I use it when there are case lot sales or to pick up bulk items at Sam’s Club or Costco when the sales don’t come around soon enough. If you have teenagers or family members who have food allergies, your budget will probably need to be more. Remember that each family is different, so determine a budget that will work for your family.

Other Posts in the Buying Groceries on a Budget Series:

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy here.