I have spend some time thinking about our reader Evaly's comment:
I spent a lot of time in Alberstons/Walgreens today redeeming coupons - it takes a while to find what you're looking for, then they don't have it, and then I realize that if I just buy the store brand at Winco or Walmart, it's cheaper anyway and without all the hassle. (Case in point: Prilosec at Walgreens - I could have saved $3.00 with a coupon and got $7.00 back on a rebate - or I could buy the store brand for the same end price without all of the hassle).
When I first started learning about the Krazy World of Couponing I was so overwhelmed with all the deals at all the stores, I was going krazy if I wasn't cashing in on ALL the deals. In a given week I was going to Albertson's, Target, Walmart, and Walgreen's. Regularly. Of course, (especially since I live about 25 minutes from a Target, Walmart, and Walgreens) this got old real quick. I have since learned that it really is best to focus on 2 stores. Mine are Albertsons, and occasionally Target (really, who can resist Target- even at full price!)
--I only buy things my family will use (and by the time that they expire) and occasionally things that I can donate. If there is something we haven't tried before but I think we will use it, I take advantage of buying it cheap to test it out!
--I buy in BULK! Like KCG Rick, if Halls Cough Drops are near Free I will buy 6 of them to stockpile. I live the mantra- Buy Before You Need It AND While it's Cheap (or free) To Save You from Running to the Store when You NEED them and Will Pay Full Price.
This way of shopping did take some getting used to, especially where meal planning/cooking is concerned. I have had to COMPLETELY change the way I was doing things... which wasn't a bad thing, I was the girl running to the grocery store at 4pm, 4 days a week! Sad, I know! Now, when I see what is a Krazy Deal for the week, I plan my meals around that. Plus I have a food storage to call upon! Amazing!
Sometimes, it is cheaper to just buy the generic brand- but often if you combine a sale price with a promotion, (like Albertson's Spend $30 Save $10) you can get killer deals, and then you will be able to stock up so when you need it, you have it!
One last thing to note- I didn't notice a difference in my budget until several months of couponing. I was stockpiling so much that I may have even been spending more, but after month 3 or 4 of consistant coupon use, my budget was SLASHED in half! And-- It hasn't gone back up since!!