Saving and Giving has moved to! I hope that you'll all join me over at Saving & Giving's new home. I'm planning some fun giveaways to kick things off. I'm still working on the site, and I'd love to hear your input. Let me know which features you want me to keep. You can email me at If you're currently an email subscriber, you shouldn't see any change in your daily email newsletter. I switched the feed over so that you should continue to receive your daily updates.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Start Saving Part 7: Maintaining Balance

In this Start Saving series, I'm trying to share some of my experiences and advice with people who are new to the couponing world. If you missed the first six parts of this series, you can catch up HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Oh how I love a good deal! In fact, I can get totally wrapped up in finding a good deal and lose my perspective on what's important. So I speak from experience on this topic!

Saving money is a truly important task, one that benefits every member of our families. Our family members get to try new products, and the money we save can be used to fund other family activities or purchases. It's a lot more fun to partially fund a vacation than a trip to the grocery store. Plus, getting a good deal is just plain fun!

But saving money can be time consuming. There are blogs to read, sale ads to scour, coupons to clip, lists to make, and actual shopping to do. It's enough to wear anyone out!

The key is balance. You will need to do a little planning in order to get the best deals. However, it doesn't need to consume you. I've found that allowing myself a little time each day to see what I can find deal-wise is fun, and it's relaxing. But I can easily be sucked into reading blog sites and printing coupons, only to realize that an hour and a half has passed without me realizing it.

One trick that I've found is using blog-reading as a reward for myself. I teach online, and there are times when I'd rather be blogging than grading. So I make myself a deal..... Grade 5 lessons, and then I can read one blog site that I like to visit. Grade another 5 lessons, and I can do a quick blog post. Going back and forth between what I need to get done and what I'd rather be doing is a good way to break up the work. It also motivates me to get those 5 lessons graded! (I just graded 5 more before I finished this section!) I'm sure that all of you don't teach online, but you can apply the same idea to any task that you need to accomplish. Do you need to dust, vacuum, and unload the dishwasher? Challenge yourself to get the dusting done, and then reward yourself with some time visiting your favorite frugal site. Then jump back up and get the sweeper run. Once that's done, allow yourself time to clip last week's coupons.

Another effective way for me to keep myself from getting too wrapped up in deal-hunting is to take a week off from shopping. This might mean sending my husband to the store, or it might mean cooking from whatever we have on-hand. Either way, I give myself a bargain-hunting break, and I focus on other things that may have been neglected while I was getting my deals. I used to read other bloggers' sites and just be astonished by the fact that they skipped a whole week of bargain shopping. How could they possibly pass up the deals??? What would they do if they ran out of toothpaste this week? Now that I've been living frugally for a while, I see how they did it. I now have a nice supply of personal care and food items in my little stockpile. I don't feel a desperate need to run out to CVS every single week. My bargain shopping has paid off!

If you're new to bargain shopping, you may feel like you have to get to every store every week. You may feel like missing a good deal this week means that you'll never find that great of a deal again. Trust me, all sales run on cycles. If you happen to miss the sale cycle this time, you can catch it next time. It's much more important that you have a balanced life. Striving to get every deal will throw life out of balance very quickly!

If you find yourself getting out of balance and devoting too much time to your bargain hunting and coupon clipping, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or family member. Being accountable to someone else is a great way to keep things in check.

Do you have any other ways that you maintain balance? Feel free to share your ideas by clicking the comments link below.

Stop back tomorrow when we'll be talking about specific store policies on coupons and bargains. We'll try to hit Target, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, and Kroger.


Lesley said... sale cycles: I am a newcomer, and an experienced couponer said to just wait, and Tide will go on sale. Sure enough, the next week I found a coupon in the Sunday paper!