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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

Avoiding Coupon Burnout

on 1.30.2013 at 4:07pm
33 Comments

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avoiding coupon burnout

Whether you are a new couponer or a long time expert it can be easy to get burnt out on using coupons. It can be a lot of fun to get all of the best deals, but it also takes a lot of time and work. Your time is valuable and you can easily get stressed out when too much time is spent trying to get every single deal.

First, do any of these sound like you??

1.  The last time you bought something not on sale was over 2 weeks ago.

2.  You are craving a favorite food, but won’t get it because there is no good deal on it.

3.  You are spending every free minute scouring the web for deals.

4.  You make frequent trips to the store just to grab the latest free find.

If one of those struck home, you are not alone.  Most of us get very wrapped up in saving money.  There are limits though and we can’t be super savers on every trip.  To help you recover from burnout or to help stay focused on the point here a few tips.

Avoiding Coupon Burnout

1. Start Small. Many beginners get frustrated by jumping in too quickly. They will try to take on too much too soon. Before you do anything, you should read the getting started guide on Southern Savers. This will help you learn the ropes so you understand how things work.  Also my favorite quote from I have no clue who… “Don’t compare your baby steps to someone else’s middle.”  You are doing great if you are saving anything.

2.  It’s okay to spend money on the things you need. Really.  If you have to repeat that to yourself every time you head into a store, then make it your mantra.  Buy things if you need them.  Try to work in your family’s requests.  If you don’t, its possible that this will ultimately lead to frustration.

3.  Work room for a splurge into your budget. If you are going into the store and saving 60% on your groceries then you probably can handle that $3 splurge item.  Yes, it has no coupon and is not on sale, but that little splurge is really helping you stay grounded.  If you never splurge then you will grow resentful of the coupons and the sales.

4.  Remember most of your savings come from the sale price, not the coupon. Yes, you read that right.  When I go in and get a $5 box of cereal for $1, over 60% off the savings was because I bought the item at it’s lowest price, NOT because I used a coupon.

If you are ready to give up on coupons, then do it.  Take a break from cutting, sorting, and gathering.   This week instead of gathering coupons you could just make a shopping list from the items on sale.  Skip the coupons and you will still save over 50%.

5.  Limit your internet time. Spending 4 hours surfing for the best deals seems fun in the beginning but eventually it is not worth your time.  In the end you will either be exhausted and overwhelmed by the things that aren’t getting done around you, or you will go crazy feeling like you need to get every possible deal at the store.  Remember that your time has a value too, so focus on saving money efficiently.

6.  It’s okay to miss a deal. If someone finds a crazy deal on detergent for 25 cents but you have 5 bottles, do you really need to run out for it??  Remember that all sales run on cycles.  If pickles are 9 cents at the store this week, it’s not the last time pickles are ever going to go on sale.  Making a daily trip to the store to get the latest reported deal isn’t really saving you time or money.  Grab the deals you know about when you are out and only go back for the latest find if you were headed there anyway.

7.  It’s okay to only shop at one grocery store. Everything comes on sale at every store.  Stock up, then there is no need to feel like you have to hit 4 different stores in the same week.  If you wait a few more weeks, those items will come on sale at the store that you frequent the most.

8. Keep your goal in mind.You need to remember why you are couponing. Whether you are using the extra money to save for something or just want to feed your family, your goal is important. Don’t focus on the number at the bottom of the receipt but focus on whether you are accomplishing your purpose for saving.  As long as you are meeting your goal it doesn’t matter whether you are saving 60% or 45%.

Our story:  We got started out of a need to pay off a large bill.  Now that we have covered that expense we coupon to put money in savings each month.  Our weekly grocery budget is small, but it still has wiggle room for things we like.  If I have extra money in the food budget at the end of the month, to help not get fatigued with coupons, it is not put into savings, instead that extra food money is put back into groceries getting things that we love but that aren’t on sale.

Learn more about frugal living.

    • cls

      I have to admit i got a bit crazy with it but decided to take a much needed break, a four month break in fact! Only needing to buy perishables, milk,eggs, fruits and veggies. We were able to go through our freezer stock and I have been able to start fresh at a nice calm pace, not needing every super deal. My family and I are all much happier for it!!

    • Ellie

      Thank you for this article – it was very timely for me!

    • Chelle

      I have been an avid couponer and an on and off again stockpiler for almost 20 years. You can easily get burnt out… but over a year ago I suggested a method to my best friend… Spend $10 a week stocking ONE item – paying no more than $1 for that item. For example if ketchup is on sale for .69 cents – I would buy 14 of them… Total would be just under $10. I have just stockpiled ketchup at it’s lowest price and that is WITHOUT coupons. Next week, pick a different item. In just 2 months, you are stocked up on 8 different items – more if you can afford to do a lil more… but using the $10/10 baseline is a great method that works without breaking the bank. It is ALL about changing your shopping habits from the way your mama used to shop (making a list out of groceries she needed for the week) to buying what is on sale and stocking up on that item when it is on sale.

    • Brandi D.

      Thank you so much for posting this! I have found myself feeling like a failure lately because I haven’t had time to really clip and sort or even go through the paper like I need to. It’s nice to be reminded that saving is still saving and I don’t have to hit the ground running every week. :-)

    • Yes I agree with Ellie ~ thanks for the reminders !! I have been telling myself lately that it is O.K. to splurge a little on items I’ve seen and wanted but were not on sale and no coupon. Reminding myself that couponing makes it possible for me to use the money I’ve saved for items I might not normally get to try. And I don’t always have a store near me to go get some of the deals I see for them, but I am thankful for what I do have available.

    • Susie

      The great thing about couponing for a while and building a stockpile is that you can easily take a break. The month of Feb will be a “no spend” month for my family. My husband and kids won’t notice a difference, our meals will be the same, but both the checkbook and I will get a break.

    • Nicole

      What a great post. I have to remind myself of all these tips from time to time. Thanks!!

    • Lori in NC

      Thank you so much for posting this. I often fall behind, and often feel overwhelmed trying to catch up. I really like #4 – if I can remember this, maybe I can still work within my budget as I catch up on the coupons.

    • mel2

      Great points! Thanks for sharing. I’m just curious… what is a realistic grocery budget for 5 people (2 adults and 3 kids eight and under)?

      • e-lane

        Just my opinion (and I’m sure there are better ideas out there), but I think it might be more important to have a realistic idea of what you currently spend. THEN set small goals to reduce. This also can help you see where cuts can be made more easily. Example, if there’s something we need with no sales or Qs, then it might be a good time to try generic or others. We’ve sometimes found new favorites that way! (Like we used to be brand-loyal to Tostitos, but when not on sale would get Kroger brand tortilla chips until i noticed that the per/oz price on Golden Flake chips was even less — and we now like it best!)

      • Mamaberry

        like e-lane, I am not sure that there is really a ‘fair’ answer per se. Everybody eats so differently and regional variations are so varied. But, I will say I stick in the $450-$500 for six of us with 4 young kids. But it should be said that we eat a lot of fruits and veggies… not vegetarian… but borderline I would say since we only eat chicken once or twice a month. But, I know others get by cheaper and others more expensive.

        Your best route is to take your ‘before couponing’ budget and try to cut back on that little by little. You should be able to cut at least 30-50% just on sales alone.

      • mommyof1

        We always try for $400 monthly for 3 people, 2 dogs (we buy them all natural kibble, I also home cook for them several times a week – yes, they are spoiled!) toiletries, home
        items, etc- . If we really need something (new shoes recently!) we up our budget for that month – this month it was by $80 – We ALWAYS make sure we have the “extra money” before heading to the store though! If we don’t have the extra – we have to take from the normal budget and eat from our stockpile..

      • And don’t feel bad if your budget is different when compared to someone else’s! We have one teenage boy, two 5yr olds, and my mom living with us. We spend around $600 a month on food, but two of us have to eat gluten free. We used to spend around a grand a month until I started really watching sales and couponing! So we have slowly cut our bill by 40%! It’s all about what your family spends without sales and coupons, and how much sales and coupons help. :)

      • Brandy W

        We have 3 adults and one teen in the house and our budget is $100 a week. I use $30 of it for stock up items and the other $70 at Aldi.

    • i got burned out when everyone else started doing it. it got so hard to get decent newspaper coupons that i had to start ordering them and then i would get busy with work and not use them so i was wasting money. i still try to get the best price but i’m in a slump with coupons and stockpiling. (p.s.- detergent at 25 cents was a bad example LOL – i’d run out the door for laundry or dishwasher detergent at that price!! lol)

    • Sandra

      I decided to take a break and handed my teenager my care bucks and told him to enjoy! He bought the B1G1 free chips at CVS for Superbowl weekend! It felt good!!

    • Tracy

      My town was hit and destroyed by the tornado today in Adairsville, Ga. I am going to try to donate all my personal hygiene items and canned goods if they will take them. I have a stock pile and have only couponed for 5 months now.

    • crystalgoodwin3

      Thanks so much Jenny.
      This is an awesome article.
      I learned most of what Jenny said quite some time ago.
      I don’t coupon from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I do still get my papers but I just don’t coupon. I’ve done this the last 2 years. We just eat from our stockpile.
      Last summer, I took the whole summer off. We do alot of boating in the summer and since we live over an hour from any CVS or major grocery store, I just took the summer off. I have to admit that by the time school started back the last of August, my stockpile was getting pretty low.
      I just started right back after Labor Day with no ECB or anything.
      I’ve built it right back up.
      I certainly have learned no to stress over any deals that I miss.
      We definitely use the money I save on special treats.
      My daughter has took up horseback riding. I’m not sure if we would be able to afford it if I didn’t coupon. She certainly wouldn’t be able to go as much. She been 3 days in a row this week. But that’s it for this week.
      It’s really great how much time Jenny saves me every week.

    • Jennifer

      I lost my big coupon binder almost 2 weeks ago and it was devastating!! All my hard work and all my gift cards and ecbs and everything else was in there. I did the math and I had just over $100 in Target gift cards, CVS ecbs and those $10 CVS gift cards, a $25 gift card to Best Buy I got from Coke points and more. I had to start all over again with a new binder and pages and the one thing that got me through it was remembering that although I lost my binder I did not lose my knowledge! That helped me a lot! It still hurts to have lost all the store cards and credit because my family of 7 really depended on my couponing skills to make our small budget last, but I have a new binder, my new coupon pages are filling up (thanks to this past Sunday!) and I still know how to use coupons to their maximum potential.
      I do get coupon burnout and when that happens, I just take a break and buy only essentials that usually have no coupons for a couple of weeks– milk, meat, bread, fresh fruits and veggies, and eat out of the pantry. 7 people can clear out a pantry fast, though, so a break for 2 or 3 weeks is my limit.

    • Shannon G

      I really need to focus on #8, which was the whole reason I started couponing. I graduated college in 2008, and after some difficulty, found a good job 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve been trying hard to pay down my student loans. And slowly but surely, I’m making a dent in the total! I paid off ten percent last year! Hopefully, with a little help from my coupons, I can pay even more this year!

      I’ve gotten so distracted by clipping, sorting, following blogs and coupon stacking strategy that sometimes I forget that this is ultimately a means to an end- financial freedom.

    • mommyof1

      Great tips!

      I have been couponing for around 2 years now. I find that not worrying about newspaper coupons has helped me out with time/stress. I often could not find the “good” coupons in our local paper anyways. I use Jenny’s lists for Publix and CVS etc and print exactly what I need with the list – this way its all together on my printer ready to be cut out.

      I put the list and coupons into separate envelopes to keep everything organized by store – I ALWAYS write a “c” in front of the items I have coupons for, so I never forget one.

      It might sound complicated to keep coupons in separate “store” envelopes – but this way it never feels like “couponing”, it’s just shopping! It takes about 30 minutes, but it’s well worth being organized right off the bat and we don’t spend an eternity in the store searching for the coupons.

      We stock up by buying only 1 or 2 extra at the time – this way we always have a variety of items, and some money left for non sale items. We don’t feel burned out at all – with a little extra planning/organizing, it really is simple and worth it.

    • Jeffy Walker

      I understand that sales run on cycles, buts who’s to say that coupon will not expire when the sale comes around again or the same coupon will be avaible…

      • gabrielamoralesperez

        yes I agree Ive been couponing for 2 years and some things are only that one time that they are so low or free.

        • Jeffy Walker

          I know.. Espically in FL where they want double!

    • Thank you for that post! I think I need to print that out and place it on my fridge b/c I feel I can spend all day, every day couponing just to save an extra dollar. Then I get frustrated b/c I get nothing done around the house. After reading this, I am going to limit myself to Publix and CVS.

    • Dolores Miranda

      I used to be like that..we wound up eating wierd things for dinner..lol.The facts are that couponing is nothing like what you see on that extreme couponing TV show,It takes a while to have a good stockpile,In the meantime you have to buy normal things you need if you have no sales on them.I stock up on an item per week(usually a meat item on sale),then do some coupon items,then do my regular shopping.Ive been doing this for many months,this week will be the first week I’m making my food budget lower because we have alot and I dont need much,but Im still sticking to the plan,doing my coupon deals,stocking up on ground turkey,but now my basic shopping list is smaller.It takes alot of patience to get to were you want to be at.but when you hit that point,then roll with it….and never watch that show,thats my best advice.

    • Thom1977

      OMG #6. I still can’t let it go if I miss a super hot deal. For instance, there was a deal at CVS last week. Buy the Nivea .99 container and get $6 ECB. You could do this 6 times!! I felt terrible for missing the deal. Of course it was a fluke and wasn’t available by the time I read about the deal. I’m still sad.

    • Thom1977

      OMG #6. I still can’t let it go if I miss a super hot deal. For instance, there was a deal at CVS last week. Buy the Nivea .99 container and get $6 ECB. You could do this 6 times!! I felt terrible for missing the deal. Of course it was a fluke and wasn’t available by the time I read about the deal. I’m still sad.

    • Thom1977

      #3. Whole Foods is my splurge. I like organic fruits and veggies and milk for my son. If I can save huge at CVS because I use ECBs, then I can use the extra money to purchase items that rarely have a coupon for them at Whole Foods. LOVE my Whole Foods!

    • Thom1977

      #3. Whole Foods is my splurge. I like organic fruits and veggies and milk for my son. If I can save huge at CVS because I use ECBs, then I can use the extra money to purchase items that rarely have a coupon for them at Whole Foods. LOVE my Whole Foods!

    • gabrielamoralesperez

      I have been hitting the mega sale at kroger almost daily the last 2 weeks, it occured to me today that it would be a great idea to skip Publix this week (blasphemy) I feel very relieved.

    • I have been couponing for about 5 years now. I never get bored. Now there may be times like around Christmas that I do less to save money and because we have so much we need to use. But, it is a game to me and I love it!!!

      • gabrielamoralesperez

        yes it is a game to me too. I enjoy it so much! but sometimes I do get exhausted running from store to store, especially when there is a deadline for the day the sale is over, like publix on the last day of the sale!