One of the first lessons that I learned when I began couponing is that it is easy to get caught up in the savings and buy things you don't really need. It is even easier, and more justifiable, to go over your grocery budget to get great deals on items you will use, but don't need right away.
In order to avoid making these mistakes, you have to realize and appreciate the value of having and sticking to a good grocery budget.
Importance of a Grocery Budget
1. Gives you accountability. It is easy to say that you saved $x.xx amount on groceries, but you gain control of your finances when you are able to stay within a predetermined amount.
2. Keeps you in check. While stockpiling is a big part of saving money on groceries, a budget helps prevent excessive stockpiling. Be sure to pay attention to expiration dates when stockpiling. If you can't use it before it expires, maybe there is another item that budget money should be used for. If it fits in your budget, there is always the option of donating excess items to a local food bank.
3. Helps prioritize your purchases. Because of my grocery budget, I am much more careful with my purchases. I am much less tempted to splurge on a great deal on non-necessary items.
Tips on Sticking with Your Budget
Don't Stress Over Missed Deals.
There are far too many great deals and freebies to be able to get them all without spreading yourself too thin. I try to plan all my deals into one or two shopping trips a week. I try not to stress over not getting every freebie or the best deal on everything. Instead I focus on meeting our families needs and staying within our budget.
When possible, I get copies of the Sunday paper from friends and family that do not use the coupons. I do buy the Sunday paper when I like the coupon inserts and I can't get them from another source. I first check the Sunday Coupon Preview to see if I will use the coupons. I do miss some deals by not getting every insert, but I have learned not to stress over missing one or two deals.
Where Do I Get the Coupons I Use?
I use the coupons I get from the Sunday paper, products I buy, catalinas, free mailers, free samples, and printable coupons. For example, right now you can sign up for a free coupon booklet from Home Made Simple, a free subscription to Rouge Magazine which contains high value coupons, and you can print coupons for free from Coupons.com, Redplum, SmartSource, and sometimes the product manufacturer's website.
I posted a few of our grocery budget goals for 2011 earlier this week. If you have not already, I encourage you to make a realistic grocery budget and stick to it. If you have a grocery budget, maybe you could challenge yourself with a smaller amount. If you are having a hard time sticking with your grocery budget, review your spending habits to see if you need to cut back on purchases or if your budget amount should increase to meet your needs.
What helps you to stick with your grocery budget?