Photo credit channah (stock.xchng)
Last night I posed this question to my Facebook pals:
The Progression to Burnout
I thought I’d share a little bit about my own story, and the chain of events that lead to a near coupon burnout.
Phase One: I’m Confused. When my pal Kellie first showed me her amazing receipts and store trips, I was hungry to learn how in the world she did it. I wanted her knowledge, and I wanted it like yesterday. I put this unrealistic pressure on myself to learn everything right away. I remember sitting at her dining room table, with a Walgreens ad in front me. Nothing popped out. Nothing. What exactly was I looking for anyway?
Phase Two: Hey, this works! After about a week, I decided to do my first shopping trip. As Kellie instructed, I bought one item with one coupon. Hey, that was easy, right? So I decided to head to Albertsons where I proceeded to use many coupons. On that shopping trip, I spent $60 and saved $80. It was the first time I ever remember saving more than I spent. The early success was encouraging and I had a fire lit under me.
Phase Three: Consumed by Coupons. This is what you might also call the “honeymoon” phase of couponing. I remember frantically cutting coupons, getting in the car, heading to store after store chasing down every last deal. I remember reading about a money maker deal on Bayer one night and packing up the kids in the car – right away! – to head to Rite Aid so we could buy Bayer, which I don’t use. I would dream about barcodes, Catalina machines, and complicated transactions where I came out triumphant. My world was soon about shopping and couponing. I was saving a lot of money, but I was also spending quite a bit chasing down all those deals, too. In fact, I was surprised that my first month couponing I’d not really shaved any money off our budget, although I had managed to amass 2 to 3 times the amount of food and goods as normal.
Phase Four: Stop the crazy train, I want off! At some point, you just get exhausted going to store after store, chasing down deals, pouring your hours on blogs and forums so you can buy aspirin for $0.33 or frozen pizza for $1. At some point, you realize that there is something just as valuable – if not more so – than your money that you’ve been frittering away. Your time. After a few months of crazy shopping trips and hours spent organizing coupons I decided I either needed to find a more realistic way to approach this or I was about to quit. If this is you? Congratulations! You’ve reached the burnout stage!
Advice to Janine, and My Former Self
Janine’s question is one I could have asked myself a couple years ago. So how can you avoid the progression to burnout and enjoy the process of couponing? Listen to some great suggestions folks gave last night on Facebook.
I think the take away message? Start small and keep it simple! Know that there are lots of deals, and accept you can’t get every one. Give yourself a task: perhaps working on one part of your stockpile, learning how to shop at one store, or seeing what you can do with $5 each week. As your skills and confidence improve, expand it.
Don’t “feel the burn”
“Feel the burn” is a great phrase to describe effective weight training. But it doesn’t apply to couponing! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a way to step back and keep it simple.
Have you experienced coupon burnout? Have you avoided it?