Friday, January 8, 2010
My Life Before Coupons
When our son was born, we had dial-up internet connection. It was so slow that I had to turn off the internet because I hadn’t even checked my email in 6 months. Then I just didn’t miss it at all for 5 years. It was like becoming a new mom turned off that part of my brain that a couple years before lived on the edge of technology. Two in diapers kept me severely busy that I had no time between feeding and changing them to turn on my brain. So coupon I did not. I went to the store for basic needs and lots of impulse buying. I don’t even remember what I cooked at that time except spaghetti and lasagna.
So I can understand moms with young children telling me how little money they save at the store. And how they just can’t do this right now. I would not even encourage them to try and organize coupons. If you have babies and can afford a higher grocery bill, then let that wait a little until you are ready. It’s just not the right season for you.
Unfortunately, with our present economy, many of us can no longer afford to stay in this baby bubble. And we have to find the remote and turn on our brains. It can be very discouraging. Unless we start aiming for tangible goals, becoming frugal can turn into a yo-yo dieting disaster. It’s simpler than we think really. Just answer a few questions and start making your shopping list.
1. What do I already have at home? Make an inventory of the pantry, fridge and freezer (also that one in the garage). Don’t have time to do it? Enlist your spouse or pay older siblings to do it.
2. What meals can I make from what we have?
3. What other ingredients do I need? Can I do without them?
4. What are the necessities we have to have or I will lose my mind (like coffee and creamer; milk and cereal).
5. When can I cook? Baby’s nap or bedtime or visiting grandma.
When you have enough meals listed for a week or so, then go shopping. Better yet, let someone else do it for you, like one of your friends. You babysit their kids and they shop for both for you.
No time to make an inventory, plan meals, much less make a shopping list? Here’s an even crazier idea, ask your friend what’s on their menu and copy that. Then they can just double their shopping list! Okay, this is my dream too. Only, I would love to do the shopping if you watch my kids.
For me, as my kids got a bit older, I had more time to figure out cooking and shopping. I read tons of books about both, tried hundreds of recipes. It wasn’t until I got introduced to Money Saving Mom and followed all the links she had to other frugal blogs that I really became a savvy shopper.
Finally, this world of couponers opened up to me. And I suggest the same for you. As you can see above, I listed nothing about coupons or looking at grocery ads. Just shopping your own pantry first will save you tons. Just having and sticking to a menu will save you tons. But if you have specific goals and a real pressing need for accelerated learning, then I suggest you check some blogs like the ones on the left sidebar of my blog. That is the surest way to learn, by surrounding yourself with other whole love to save and are great at it. You will be encouraged and pick-up on techniques faster this way. Then within a few months you’ll find you’ve got part of your brain back. Even if you are still stuck changing two diapers at once. Which I am learning doesn’t stop after potty training. Mine still have to pee at same time every time. And they are not twins!