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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When the kids were really young and I had to have them in tow with me, I would always make sure I brought snacks and activities with me to keep them occupied. As they got to be school aged and I had them home in the summer, I would either shop late at night or if I took them with me, I would have a "job" for each child. One would push the cart, one would have the clip board with the list and cross things off the list and one would use the calculator to make sure we were staying on budget. This practice came in very handy when we would shop for shoebox items for Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan's purse. Although it isn't favorable to always have the kids in tow and there are some stores I cannot take them into, it can be done (with a lot of patience).
You are absolutely right – shopping without children is quicker, easier, and sometimes cheaper. When I need to shop without my kids I go after supper or on the weekend. My husband is great about doing bedtime and watching the kids.
BUT. I think shopping without your children on a regular basis is missing a great opportunity to teach and train your children. Don't get me wrong – I'm NOT Supermom!! But my kids (4 under 7) go with me to the grocery store and Wal-mart just about every week. Because of this my kids have learned not to ask for stuff (most of the time), they are learning how to read labels and know the cost of food, and they learn how to navigate a store with lots of people in it. We make a game of finding the different items on our list and counting apples as we put them in the bag.
Shopping with kids doesn't have to be a nightmare or cost you money. It just takes planning and a little extra attention.
I love the ideas shared here. Fortunately I have older kids, but I do recall shopping with with my kids when they were younger. They also knew there would not be "treats" every time or "bribes" to get them to behave. As a single mom at the time they were aware we were on a tight budget and if they cooperated, the savings we had could be used for something we normally could not have or do. A great learning experience.
I find that there are certain seasons in my children's lives where I just have to shop without them or specifically avoid certain stores. Right now, I have 3 boys that are 3 and under! Going to the grocery store can feel like running a marathon. Right now, I'm favoring going alone in the evenings, or waking up super early on Saturday morning and then getting home in time to unload and still get out with the family after breakfast. However, there are certainly times when I need to take the kids. Best bets are going to the stores with the "race car" carts, also going at snacktime is prime time since they are occupied with snacks and I can just whiz through the store. But, there can be mishaps, i.e. oldest child decides he needs to go to the bathroom even though he went right before we left home. 🙁 That in itself is quite the challenge when I have baby in the Baby Bjorn, 2 year old strapped into the cart full of groceries, and the 3 year old jumping up and down saying, "gotta go, gotta go!" But, I have also recently discovered that taking my oldest son alone with me to the store can be the perfect mommy-son date. We get some alone time together, while accomplishing a task. And I get to engage him the process much more. We always come home smiling. 🙂 My kids don't really ask for treats or toys at the store, probably because I've never obliged them. Although I will admit I have on occasion bought them a small treat at the end of the trip if they've been exceptionally good.
Jill…you mentioned your couponing tactics. I highly encourage you to check out my friend Angela's site at http://www.thecouponproject.com
All the work is done for you!
I will definitely check out Angela's site!
Stephanie and Confident Mom,
I absolutely agree that shopping with kids can be a learning experience for them. It's important to take them every once in a while!
You are what I call a proactive mom! Great ideas!