Several years ago, my grandma asked me to drop her off for some shopping at DI (Deseret Industries), with instructions to pick her up in two hours.
When I arrived to pick her up, I could see that she had a shopping cart full of all kinds of things: clothing, blankets, dishes, shoes…everything but the kitchen sink. (Actually, that could have been in there too, I'm not sure.) I asked her if she was finished shopping, and she said, “yes,” so we headed to checkout.
As I started pushing the cart toward the register, she said, “Wait, I've got two more carts parked over here!” And indeed, she did. Three carts. Full. Oh my!
After she checked out (if I remember correctly, her total bill was over $300) we loaded up my minivan with garbage bags full of stuff. When we got back to her house, I asked her if she wanted me to help her sort it out and put it in bags for those she was buying for, and she said, “No, just store it in the basement. I don't know anyone who needs it right now.”
Moral of the story: Even if it's a great deal, spending money on things you don't need is money down the drain. Don't do it.
Several years ago we had an enrichment class in Relief Society about couponing. Up until that time, I had considered it a waste of time, but that night I really learned how to make it work for me. At that time, I always shopped at the same grocery store (shout out to Macey's in Pleasant Grove!), and I developed the most fabulous system for shopping the ads and couponing there. I had my recipe box organized by Macey's aisle, and organized my coupons by expiration date in there. Every week I would shop the ad for what was on sale and pull the coupon for that product if I had one. By buying when things were on sale and using a manufacturer's coupon, I purchased virtually everything when it was a great price. I still spent the same amount of money on my shopping budget, but I got so much more for my money. (Buy one, get one free is so great when the item is already on sale!)
For the first time ever, my pantry was well stocked and well organized. Did it take me a lot more time? Not really. I spent about 30 minutes on Monday morning cutting coupons, shopping the ad, and pulling my coupons for the day. My actual shopping time was probably lessened by these preparations, because I was organized and knew exactly where to find everything. I absolutely loved looking at that receipt at checkout and seeing that I had saved more off the regular price on things than I had spent shopping that day!
So, why did I stop couponing?
I moved. Then I moved again. I never really found stores I liked, and I didn't subscribe to the local papers and get coupons anymore.
Today I was reminded that I should start again. I got a coupon packet that they were handing out at the grocery store, and just in the few coupons I used today, I saved a couple of bucks.
And while I haven't used them, I have heard that there are fantastic websites that tell you what items are on sale at various stores, and match up your coupons for you. I need to try that!
It's totally worth it. Check up on me in a few months and see if I am sticking with my goal to shop providently once more!