Have you wanted to use coupons or have a budget that works, but find yourself putting it off due to lack of time? You're not alone. As I've taught and encouraged families in these areas over the past 9 years, I've heard this often: “Josh, I want to, I just don't have time”.
While I certainly can relate to an overfull schedule, I beg to differ on the time assertion. And not just because it's my passion, but because I believe that people actually do have time, they just don't realize it, so they aren't set up to utilize the time they do have. Even with little time, you can do enough to impact your finances in a positive manner. And that's what it's all about anyway.
With that in mind, I wanted to round up some of the most practical tips for fitting couponing and budgeting into a busy life.
Tip #1 – Keep it simple. Don't make your budget a 5-page detailed spreadsheet you have to pour over at a table or desk just to understand. Even if you can find time to set it up, you won't find time to maintain it. Instead, create a simple budget you can work with even if you only have a few minutes a week.
Likewise with couponing. Don't overburden yourself with clipping every coupon. If all you have time for is digital coupons, that's fine. Let the other coupon types go at this point in your life. Using a simplified method to save some money is better than not couponing at all.
Tip #2 – Make it portable. Use a website like SavingsAngel.com to outline matched store sales and coupons. You can hop on, make a shopping list, see which coupons you'll need, and even get your digital coupons ready from any mobile device. For newspaper insert coupons, organize whole inserts by date, and keep them in a large zippered bag for easy transport. Include a pair of scissors so you can clip on the go.
Don't neglect other easy ways to coupon, like keeping restaurant coupons in a pouch in your vehicle, and regularly checking Retailmenot.com via their app before you spend any money.
Likewise, budgeting apps like YNAB.com allow you to check your budget, make adjustments, see what bills need to be paid, and more – no matter where you are. Unlike a budget on paper somewhere, or a detailed spreadsheet in your computer, a portable budget can be worked with, even on the go, making it work for your busy life.
Tip #3 – Redeem the time you waste. We all have little pockets of time in our days, whether it's while we wait to pick someone up, or in between large tasks. It's too easy to see “only a few minutes” as not enough to accomplish anything, and then to let those minutes slip away, unproductive. But if you've made your couponing and budgeting simple and portable, a few minutes might be all you need to make a positive financial impact in your life. And those minutes will pay off, as opposed to surfing Facebook, which I can pretty much guarantee won't.
Tip #4 – Brutally guard your time. Throughout the week, it's too easy to get sidetracked by needs or tasks that could wait – or, when closely examined – could be skipped completely. Get more done in less time by being focused and planning what you absolutely need to get done each day. Be sure couponing and budgeting time is on your list at least once a week.
Tip #5 – Combine things when you can. By having your couponing and budgeting simplified and portable, you can also slip them into other tasks. For example, as someone else drives, you be the one looking for a coupon to use at your destination, or as your child learns about economics and money, show them practical couponing or how to understand a budget while you accomplish it in real life.
Tip #6 – Don't scoff at small savings or improvements. The bottom line is that a busy life is no excuse for not couponing or budgeting. While it does take an upfront effort to get things set up, continuing should be simple as you implement these tips. And as you go along, don't derail your own success by seeing small savings as “not worth my time” or budgeting efforts that make only small improvements as a failure. Remember that you are making a positive impact on your finances, whether big or small. As you go along, you'll find fitting couponing and budgeting into your busy life becomes more natural, and your success and tangible results will only increase.