In a household kept afloat on a public school teacher salary and a freelance journalist’s pay, you know money is tight. I wish I were better at squeezing every penny, but my saving savvy pretty much begins and ends with “Uh, well, let’s just try not to spend too much.”
I know I should budget. I know I should shop sales. I know I should use coupons. But you guys, I can barely manage to meal plan well enough to avoid going to the grocery store five times in one week. Asking me to deliberately stop at more than one store or take the time to clip coupons feels just impossible.
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I do try, kind of, with the coupons. I make sure to pull the coupon inserts out of my Sunday paper each week, and I make grand plans to actually look through them and clip what I need. “I’ll just do it while I watch TV,” I tell myself. Which is a grand plan, except that I almost never watch TV. (Which is also why the laundry never gets folded, but I digress.)
Every now and then, though, I do manage to find the scissors (like 10 pairs in my house, but never, ever findable when I need them!) and to clip some coupons. Wheeeee! I’m so good at this! That wasn’t bad, I could do this every week! Think of the money I’ll save! But then, inevitably, I leave the coupons on the kitchen table when I head out to the grocery store. I pick up that bag of frozen rolls I was excited to save $1 on (don’t judge; do I sound like someone who has time to bake or the organizational skills needed to eat fresh bread before it goes bad?), and then realize the coupon’s at home. That is a seriously awful feeling. But not as bad as the feeling I get when I buy the frozen rolls, chat up the cashier, and TOTALLY FORGET that I had a coupon for that and 12 other things in my pocket.
It all just causes so much pain that I’ve decided it’s not worth it. I do know, from the few times I’ve gotten it together enough to clip, save, bring with me and use my coupons, that you can save a whole lot of dough. And that feels awesome. But it’s so rare — and the anguish from my failures is so great — that I think it’s best, overall, for me to give up. Is my sanity, my ability to love myself, an opportunity to not want to cry at the thought of going to the grocery store, worth $25 I’m over-spending on groceries each week? Yup.
Maybe when my preschooler is in elementary school, and I have more time to make solo trips to the store — when a simple task like going to the grocery store and getting all the things on the list AND using the relevant coupons doesn’t sound right up there with attaining a Ph.D. in brain surgery — I’ll give this coupon thing another try. But for now, I’m keeping the scissors in the drawer (or wherever the heck they are right now) and redeeming my own personal coupon for life: 25% easier.