To those of us with chronic illnesses everyday ordinary tasks can be frustrating, difficult and often times impossible. Like grocery shopping with brain fog.
When I had to quit work I felt an enormous responsibility to help save money since I was no longer financially contributing to the household. I used to coupon regularly when my kids were little but as my illnesses piled up and the brain fog took over it was too much of an effort. I used to sit on Sunday with the paper and spend the first few minutes staring blankly at the coupon inserts and store sale flyers trying to remember what steps to take to try to save a buck.
I knew if there was any way I was going to save money at the grocery store I was going to have to make the process as simple as possible.
Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years that allow me to shop and save money without letting brain fog get the best of me. Now don’t read this list and be overwhelmed – just focus on one tip at a time and try it out. Once you feel like you have a grip on that one you can move on to another one.
- I collect coupon inserts but I don’t clip coupons. I learned this trick from watching an episode of Extreme Couponers. I take the inserts for that week and simply paper clip them together. On the front, I put a sticky tab with the date I received the inserts and also the date 12 weeks from then. Most coupons in the inserts have expired by the time 12 weeks roll around. Once that time comes, I simply toss the whole packet. With my foggy mind, I can’t possibly cut and organize every coupon and then remember to go through and purge the expired coupons. This insert technique takes a paperclip and a sticky note and DONE! No categories needed, no deciding if you’ll file coupons by type or brand and then forgetting which you chose.
- I seek help from two different websites: The Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupon Mom. Both sites list the date and type of insert so you know where to find the coupons with the process I listed in #1. For example – RedPlum/April 2nd paper. I would suggest trying one of these for a bit until you get the hang of it and then add the second later if you want.
- The Krazy Coupon Lady has different deals laid out for you, telling you how to stack coupons and rewards to get the best deal. They do all the thinking so your foggy brain doesn’t have to! They also have a key showing if the deal is something that’s good, so you should grab a few, or if it’s a great deal and you should probably stock up.
- Coupon Mom lists the different sales for the week and how to stack the savings the same way Krazy Coupon Lady does, but it also shows you the percentage saved of each item, which I like.
- I get the Sunday paper delivered to my home. I stopped delivery for a while and thought I’d just run to the store on Sundays to pick up a paper and if the coupons were good I might grab two. Well, we all know our bodies tend to revolt when we make plans for certain days of the week. I’m much better off sticking to delivery and ensuring I get a paper so I have my coupons.
- I keep my handy dandy grocery shopping list. Previously I wrote some tips for navigating the grocery store when you’re chronically ill and I offered a FREE printable of the grocery store aisles laid out in order. You can still download a copy of that FREEBIE here. This has been the most useful of all my grocery shopping habits, not only for me but for others if I ask them to make a store run for me. It eliminated scanning the entire list every aisle to be sure I got everything only to end up at the end of the store and realize I forgot something way back in the first aisle. Ain’t no one got time for that! Or energy!
- Both of the websites I listed above also give links to online coupons you can print at home. Be aware though! Only use a trusted coupon site! I only use the ones shared by these two websites and only print a coupon for a deal I’m getting that week. That way I don’t have loose coupons laying around! Also, I only use the sites they recommend because I know they’re reputable and they check the printable coupon sites they mention. You can find tons of free, printable coupons online but some also come with a free computer virus that attacks your computer while you’re downloading the coupon.
- I use two handy dandy apps. I downloaded Ibotta and Checkout51 on my phone. Each of these show discounts for products. How they work is that you take a pic of the barcode on the product and then a pic of your receipt. The money is paid into an account for you and once you reach a certain amount you can cash out. There are quite a few apps available but for me, for right now, learning two is all I can handle! My daughter has shown me another app that looks pretty good, Flipp. I’ll be trying that out later.
- I take advantage of my stores discount program. Most grocery stores offer savings programs of one kind or another. I simply put my phone number in as I begin checking out and my totals accumulate. Once I reach a particular amount purchased for the month I’m given $10 or so as a credit on my next trip. My store also offers prescription rewards where every time you refill 5 meds you get $10 off your next order! Be sure to check your store for prescription rewards!
- I try to break up my trips. I’m usually not up to a full blown grocery trip. Instead, I tend to go grab a few things at a time so my head isn’t swimming from a big list and a dozen coupon deals. The store I use the most has toiletries and health and beauty products at one end and the groceries are way on the other side of the store, divided by the clothes and household products. I tend to make one trip for the health and beauty items and take another day for the groceries.
- I ask for help from others! When items go on sale they’re usually only discounted for a few days or that one week. If I’m not feeling up to a shopping trip I’ll see if someone else can run and pick up the items for me. I give them my printed grocery list, even if they’re only grabbing one or two items, that way they know the aisle and they can be in and out of the store quickly. I attach any coupons to the list with a paper clip and they’re ready to roll.
What tricks have you developed that help you save money on your grocery bill? Do you use the Flipp app – would it be worth my while? Share your tips in the comments; I’d love to hear from you!