This weekend, I did some strategy shopping. I went to several stores to take advantage of their sales or catalina deals (a catalina deal is when you buy certain products and get a coupon to use on your next order.)

At one store in town (Jewel), they had an incredible catalina deal on Edy’s ice cream. By two for $5 and get $4 back. We rarely buy ice cream except for birthday celebrations, but I just couldn’t pass up this fabulous deal. I did five separate transactions of purchasing two ice creams and each time I used the $4 catalina coupon I had just received from buying the previous two. That made each half gallon of ice cream just fifty cents!  It was an amazing deal but it took time, thought, and a little bit of strategy.

And I could never do that with kids in tow! 

Before I went to Jewel, I had done my occasional stop at CVS where I had also needed to be able to think. Before leaving the house I studied the CVS Extra Buck deals to figure out what to get and in what order to buy them.  I also searched for coupons for the specific products I was going to buy. Because of the research and my strategy of doing multiple transactions each time using my CVS bucks to buy the next product, I ended up walking out of CVS with two Cascade Dishwasher liquids, two Crest Toothpastes, 3 Post Cereals, and two feminine products for less than $5 out of pocket.  Seriously, I could NEVER have done that with any sort of distraction.  (I’ll share more about these kinds of deals in a future post!)

We all know that little ones in tow will often increase the grocery bill simply because they ask (translate: beg) for things you wouldn’t normally buy.  But there are other ways they increase the grocery costs.  Take my friend Crystal for example.  She went specifically to one store to buy ice cream.  They had a great deal on ice cream and she had some great coupons that made the store deal even better.  While there, she picked up some cottage cheese which her two year old promptly tossed out of the grocery cart.  “Clean up on aisle 10!”

In the midst of getting someone to clean up the mess and then finally making her way to the check out lane, the coupons mysteriously disappeared.  She’s thinking that maybe they got cleaned up with the cottage cheese!  Now this frugal, but flustered momma isn’t getting such a great deal on the ice cream because the distraction caused chaos and the coupons flew away somewhere! 

I’ve asked other moms how they manage to shop without children.  Here are some of the strategies they’ve shared:

  • One mom sets aside one night a week that her husband takes care of the kids and she does the shopping.
  • A single mom I know trades shopping nights with another single mom so neither one of them have to take their kids to the store.
  • Another mom I know chooses to get up and do her shopping at 5am so she can be home before her husband leaves for work.

What about you?  What strategies have you used to shop without distraction?

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