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You don’t need coupons to start saving money at the grocery store

If you’ve been clipping your little heart out, don’t worry. We’re not going to tell you you’re wasting time. But if you’re hestitant about using coupons – and many people are – we’re going to tell you how you can start saving money without all that clipping and sorting. And once you do – you’ll happily jump into couponing with both feet!

Now, prepare yourself. Don’t reach for that mouse so you can click away. But…

The secret word is: Budget.

Here’s what you’re doing wrong

We know. You’ve been putting off couponing because you think it’s going to take a lot of time and effort, and in the beginning it does. But we’re not here to talk about couponing (yet…) Let’s talk about one easy little step you can take to start saving money.

Way back before we started couponing we’d just go to the grocery store every week and pick up whatever we needed. Most weeks we spent around $200 – sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what was on sale and what caught our eye that week. But we never actually set out on our shopping trip with the thought: This week we’re only going to spend $200.

But shopping like that inevitably causes two problems:

  • You have a week every month or so where you only have $100 bucks to spend at the grocery store so you have to cut back to balonga sandwiches and meatloaf.
  • You and your family feel deprived because you couldn’t buy everything you wanted that week.

When that happens, you tell yourself “I’m going to set up a budget so this never happens again” – and we all know how well that works. The next week, when you have money again, you go right back to your same old shopping habits and forget all about that lousy week they just had, living on mac & cheese and ramen noodles.

Start small and take baby steps

The mistake most people make with budgeting is that they try to reach their goal in one giant step. It’s like trying to lose weight. If you tell yourself you’re going to lose 50 pounds this month you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

The best way to achieve any goal is to break it down into small, manageable, bite-size pieces.

This week, when you go to the grocery store, give yourself a strict spending limit and make it small, so it’s hardly noticeable. For example, if you typically spend around $200, tell yourself you’re only going to spend $195 – period. Not around $195, but $195 exactly – no more.

It’s easy to reduce your grocery spending by 5 bucks without feeling the pinch when you open the cupboard. You skip one package of cookies and give the kids a banana instead. You take a pass on that top-shelf pasta sauce that makes you feel like a gourmet chef and reach for the Prego or Ragu instead. Anyone can shave $5 without blinking an eye.

Now saving $5 this week may not seem like much but here’s what happens:

  • You gain a sense of achievement
  • You realize that it’s possible to set a goal and reach it
  • You start wondering how much more you could save now that you see how easy it is

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time

Right now reducing your grocery spending looks like a huge task. That’s why it’s important to start small and get some wins under your belt. If you typically spend around $200 a week, tell yourself this week you’re only going to spend $200 – period. Next week limit yourself to just $195. The week after that set your limit at $190.

Eventually, though, unless you change some habits, you’re going to reach a point where you do feel like you’re depriving yourself and your family. But by the time that happens you’re going to be hooked. You’re going to start looking for ways you can still provide the same tasty meals, treats and snacks and still keep decreasing your spending.

When you reach that point, come back here and we’ll tell you how to start using coupons!

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