- Stick to your budget. This has been my biggest win so far. In all of my silly spending follies I made this month so far in trying to use coupons, at least my spending hasn't gotten out of control. I set out to spend $50 a week and so far I have not exceeded the budget, and it doesn't feel like we've had to go without.
- Don't lose sight of the real price. My sister pointed out to me that I ended up paying more for a product to use a coupon than I would have if I bought it at a different store. Oops. Don't do this. As you pay attention to prices more, you will quickly start to develop a price awareness on staple items you regularly buy. I'd say by the second week I could see the value in buying a couple extra of non-perishables when it was on sale and holding off on other items on my list for a sale to come along.
- Start with in store sales. Lesson two fortunately led me straight to a well-known rule in the smart shopping game. Basically, don't buy anything that isn't on sale. My first week, I only had a couple coupons to work from, and I had a few items we were completely out of that I had to buy. So using coupons to save a few cents seemed like a win. However, then I noticed the next week the item went way on sale and my coupon would have still been valid. Obviously, don't make yourself crazy over it, but if you see a good sale on the store shelf, and you have a coupon, there's a better chance next weeks price won't give you buyers' remorse.
This week I'm starting meal planning. I recommend giving it a try. All I did, was go into google's calendar app, go to month view and space out some of my staple recipes off the top of my head (spaghetti, tacos, chili mac, meatloaf, beef stroganoff). Then I went to Pinterest, and my issue has always been that if I make too many recipe boards, they all seem to get more and more irrelevant. It works best for me to just have one board for sweet dishes and one for savory. However, then all the recipes that I will realistically use for weeknight dinners get lost among all the appetizers that I may only need a few times a year not to mention the pretty food pictures that we all know no one ever actually makes. Anyway, this is a great time to sift through my savory board and copy the recipe titles onto a respective day of the month. Then, I made my grocery list from the recipes for this week. I also try to have a general awareness of the recipes on my calendar for the whole month in case there's a great sale on one of the ingredients now, however, this is a little advanced for me (and my budget) at this stage so I'm not going to make myself crazy over it.