Couponing is a hobby that requires a lot of dedication.
Personally, it can be a challenge for me to find time to cut coupons. Between work, the children's summer activities, home-renovation projects, cleaning the house and cooking meals, I feel fortunate to have time to do anything else during the day. It can be difficult to get in the mind-set to cut coupons and search for deals after a hard day working out in the hot sun.
One of the ways I stay on track is by having a coupon buddy.
I am very blessed to have a supportive spouse who will help me cut coupons. When I first began couponing, I would come home after the trip and have my husband guess how much I paid for each item. We made it into our own little game to share the excitement of seeing our spending drop. I would tell him the full price of the total trip and then tell him how much I ended up spending.
A couple of years later, he is pretty good at guessing how much I spent on each trip, but occasionally I still surprise him. Now, if I send him on a quick shopping trip, he is quick to show me coupons he has found or a deal he discovered. I love to tease him that he's getting infected with the couponing bug. His energy helps keep me going when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
Finding a couponing buddy is a great way to keep your motivation to coupon. Your buddy can help you in many ways. You can clip coupons together, trade unused coupons and even plan and make shopping trips together. If that isn't practical for your schedules, you can still share tips by phone, e-mail or even Facebook. Your buddy can be your spouse, your mom, a friend or a fellow couponer.
My husband and I are working on becoming debt free, and that is why we coupon. I recently discovered another motivational focusing technique that I really love. This method is simple but effective. All you have to do is to take the bill that you are working on and put it up on your refrigerator or a corkboard in a visible area of your home. Every time you see it, think to yourself, "You are going down!" That energy helps to keep you motivated to coupon. If you are already debt free, put up a picture of a goal. It can be anything you choose, such as saving for a vacation or for sending your kids to college.
Now that my family has built up a stockpile that allows us to save money on our household supplies, we have been fortunate enough to splurge this summer on fresh produce and dairy at Augusta's farmers market.
I feel blessed to be able to support local farmers with my purchases while maintaining a modest food and household budget. I grew up next to my grandfather's small farm in Alabama, and my earliest job was helping my grandparents harvest their fields each summer. I spent many summer days picking field peas, corn, tomatoes, okra, watermelons, peaches, crab apples, figs, mulberries and blackberries.
My grandmother taught me how to "put up" the harvest, which is country-speak for canning and freezing foods. Buying seasonal produce and preserving that harvest means that my family can enjoy healthy, locally grown foods well into the winter.
Smart shoppers find that buying in bulk at the farmers market yields the biggest savings. You might even get a discount; it never hurts to ask. Having a buddy to help put up those foods will save you both time and money. A bushel of peaches can easily turn into peach jam, peach pie filling and sliced peaches for the both of you. You can share the costs of your purchases and divide your results.
Having that support system keeps your food budget low in many ways.