Have you ever noticed that when you try super hard to be frugal you end up spending more time and money than you would have if you didn't try so hard? Case in point, a few months ago I was on the "Extreme Coupon" bandwagon and I would spend upwards of 8 hours per week cutting, sorting, and preparing my coupons. Then, I would spend an additional 2-3 hours per week surfing the flyers of all the stores: CVS, Walgreens, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Save-A-Lot, and then I would go shopping. After spending several hours going store-to-store on a money-saving high I would return home with my loot and begin putting everything away while admiring my take.
Here's the thing. I felt like I was saving money...and I probably was to a point. However, I was saving money on items I did not need or necessarily even want. I felt like I was getting them for such a bargain price that I felt compelled to purchase them even if I could not think of a use for them at that moment. I mean come on, I live in a small two-bedroom apartment right now, do I really need 10 bottles of dish soap?? Of course not, especially since I have a dish washer, but they were only 25 cents each...how do I pass that up???
Well here is what I have learned. My time is worth more than the $20-$30 per week I was saving on items that I did not really need. I have learned not to shop at places like Walmart because the savings on food is always countered by the money I spend on the "Must Haves" of Walmart like the shirts on sale or the area rug that would look great on the patio, etc. In addition to the extra items that distract me while in Walmart, the lines at check out always seem to be 20-30 minutes long. So going back to "my time being valuable", it is not worth the 15 dollars in savings to spend my time waiting in line because they refuse to staff their stores appropriately.
So, I now shop at my local grocery store each week and I still check the flyers from various stores for any "Super Bargains", but I find I have more time, better food, and less stress by just concerning myself with what is for dinner, not "do I have a coupon for that?".
Is there any good way to be a working parent and a couponista and still have time and energy for your life?