How To Get Great Deals When You’re Short on Time

posted by Andrea | 03/8/2012

If there is one thing that really gets me excited {I mean REALLY excited} it’s finding a great deal! Thankfully, it seems that Nora is already following in my footsteps 🙂

There have been many, many times when I just have to call Dave or my mom {an equally avid deal shopper} as I leave the checkout lane or cash register just to tell them about my amazing deal. Like a month ago when I got an entire weeks worth of groceries for $0.67, or last fall when I snagged a gorgeous chocolate brown duvet cover and shams on the clearance rack for only $6.89, or even last week when I got 4 large cans of formula completely FREE — plus I made $2 in the process.

I just LOVE hunting for deals, I love finding deals, and I love saving our family tons and tons of money on things we need to buy anyway {we did actually need a new duvet cover too!}

However, it all takes time…

And time is one luxury I haven’t had much of lately.

So while I still love an amazingly good deal, I’ve changed the way I shop a bit so I can still get my “deal fix” without wasting vast amounts of time. Yes, I’m still clipping and organizing coupons — after all, we still need to buy groceries each week — but I’ve changed a few of my deal-seeking ways to accommodate the baby — who seems to take up all my extra time lately!

If you feel short on time, here are some of my deal-seeking tips that might help you get your deal fix!

1. Realize you will NOT get every deal:

I didn’t get EVERY deal even before I had Nora, but now I find myself passing up great deals all the time, just because I don’t feel like dragging a fussy baby in and out of different stores, trying to find the items I need, waiting in line, and then explaining to the cashier that “yes, you can use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on the same item!”

Nope, not worth it.

If you are short on time, realize that you won’t get every deal, and that’s OK.

2. Shop online:

I’ve always been a big fan of Craigslist, Amazon.com, and Target.com, but lately, I’ve been using the internet to do as much shopping as possible.

I almost did all my holiday shopping online and have since done a large amount of my weekly shopping online. I’ve purchased diapers and other baby items at rock-bottom prices, clothes for myself, and even food online.

I’ve gotten some amazing deals at Target.com using coupon codes I find online — plus, they often have 20% off select women and baby items, free shipping, AND I’m still shopping with gift cards I received when Nora was born!

I also redeem my Swagbucks for Amazon.com gift cards so all the diapers, baby supplies, food, etc. I “buy” are essentially free.

3. Follow one {or two} blogs:

I know, there are thousands of great deal blogs out there; all offering amazing coupons, rebate offers, freebies, giveaways, etc. but if you are really short on time like I am, it’s just not possible to follow them all.

Pick your favorite blog, subscribe to get the email updates, and then use their deal suggestions and coupons. Yes, you’ll probably miss a few deals, but this is a much more time-friendly approach to deal shopping!

4. Don’t play the drugstore game:

It was a sad, sad day when I realized I was no longer willing to make time for my beloved “drugstore game”! Especially since this was one of my favorite ways to get amazing deals.

I used to go to Walgreens and RiteAid every single week to stock up on totally free cosmetics, toiletries, food, and other supplies… but not anymore. It’s just too much of a hassle to take the car seat in and out of the car at all these different stores — especially if she’s sleeping and I might only need one item from a particular drugstore.

So, for the time being, I’ve stopped playing the drugstore game. Instead, I give coupons to my mom and she gets double the deals {and often send the extras my way!}

5. Shop one {or two} stores:

Like I mentioned above, I used to go to all kinds of stores each week to stock up on the best deals. And while it honestly didn’t take me that much extra time {I could just run in and run out}, it’s a TON of extra work with a baby!

I basically do ALL my shopping at Meijer {a local grocery store similar to Walmart}… and if Meijer doesn’t carry something, I turn to the Internet.

It’s just easier to go in, get out, and then go home — even though I have to force myself not to pull into Target on my way home from Meijer 🙂

I know that I’ll eventually get back to my beloved deals and steals; but for now, I’m happy with the number of deals I’m still able to find with the time I DO have.

Plus, in the long-run, I might find that I’m actually saving more just because I’m not shopping as much!

What are your tips for finding great deals in minimal time?

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Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

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17 comments

  1. Christine

    09/19/2012

    Here’s a good clothing deal – a free t shirt! Get a free t shirt by signing up at http://www.thit.com using code I8LW6k.

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  2. Flavia

    03/10/2012

    Hi Andrea, thanks for all the good tips. Sometimes it’s crazy how we have no time left.

    Online shopping is great! Not sure what we did before all that 🙂

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  3. Tips4savingmoney

    03/10/2012

    Online shopping has worked for me over the past year. This has also helped to find offers or discount online that i can not see in the shop. I have also save money and my time by shopping onlineI also.

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  4. deborah

    03/10/2012

    I really like shopping online also, especially for Christmas gifts. But I have over an hour to a city with lots of shopping, so it’s just easier to find many of the items I want for gifts, online.

    I really like your tip on realizing and accepting that you can’t get every good deal!

    Your baby is precious!

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  5. Nora@ The Dollar Hollering Homemaker

    03/09/2012

    I don’t do the drugstore game unless I really need something. We had to buy some cold medicine a few weeks ago and I used RR to buy tissues. Not great, but I still saved money!

    Actually, I do Walgreens on black friday and stock up on all the toothpaste and such that we need. We actually do it as a family and that takes the stress off of me, a little!

    I love your daughter’s name. I’m a bit partial to it:) My full name is Noreen but everyone calls me Nora, so I just went with it!

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks! My nora is actually named after her great grandma “Norene”!

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  6. Daisy

    03/09/2012

    I have 2 kids, 2 and 5, so understand that jumping in and out of the car is not as easy. Especially now that they can talk, complain, ask, want, etc…verbally exhausting while you are in the store. My husband is a great couponer and saves us lots of money. He loves to go to the grocery store ( jealous, I know).
    Otherwise, I love to use consignment sales or thrift stores for my kids clothes. I have learned that if I find what I like, I will buy it even if 2 sizes too big. It saves me ‘hunting’ for that special dress or shirt later. It may take lots of time to consign 2x year for each season but I find that having bins for the seasons and sizes, helps me know what I will be shopping for. It is a THRILL to have all of my clothes shopping done at once and to know I paid 12.00 or so for Merrill shoes (as example).
    Amazon or online deals are always the best shopping from home. I can purchase baby, household and books for work all in one place!

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  7. Lisa

    03/08/2012

    I did exactly the same thing! I made Meijer my one stop shop for years! I could literally get everything except drycleaning there. {And we know you don’t do drycleaning!}

    I could get my picures printed, household items, food, prescriptions and a fountain coke all in the same trip!

    🙂
    Lisa

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  8. Kim

    03/08/2012

    First of all I want to say that I’m new to your blog (found you via MoneySavingMom.com) and really appreciate all the advice and tips I’ve read on your site. I’ve found great ideas to help with many of the household management things I’m constantly struggling with.

    Saving money and getting great deals is something I constantly feel guilty about. I know I could save our family a lot of money by couponing and shopping multiple stores and am constantly amazed at how people are able to spend next to nothing on all sorts of things their family needs from groceries to furniture. However, I am a mother of 3 young children (2yr, 4yr, 5yr) and am pregnant with number 4. I work fulltime and have a long commute and don’t even have enough time to get 8 hours of sleep at night. Although I’d love to do it, couponing and visiting multiple stores is not something I have time for.

    Thank you for this post. It makes me feel better about what I do do to try to save money. I do the majority of our shopping at Costco where I know I can always get the best deals on the foods we eat and I can go once and stock up for the month (plus they have big carts with two seats for kids). I also make one trip a month to the regular grocery store and will look at the ads of my two favorite stores and shop at which ever one has the best sales on the items that I need. I’m trying to get better about ordering what I can online as well in order to get some of my time back and save on gas. We live out in the country so it takes at least 30 minute to get anywhere.

    My goal between now and August when baby #4 comes is to get organized so that I can save money. If I’m organized and know what I have, I won’t waste money on buying duplicates and will be better able to repurpose items. Your web site is helping me get there so thanks again.

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks kim! and seriously, you should never feel bad about not getting certain deals. You can only do SO much and YOU know what’s best for your family. As long as you’re not going into debt, I’d say you are doing great!

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  9. Sandy

    03/08/2012

    I try to balance my love of deals. It’s imperative to find deals to keep my budget in line. But I also know the importance of buying local to support our city’s economy….especially the hardworking mom and pop stores. It is a tough balancing act.
    And then Andrea has taught me to skip the deal on the cream colored turtleneck….even if it is only 1.99….. I already have three of them 🙂
    I appreciate deals and balancing life and simplifying and hunting for deals and sharing my deals….. it’s kind of like paying it forward.

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  10. Jennifer

    03/08/2012

    I’ve always couponed, but did “strategic” couponing for a few months last year and it was too difficult. My husband is deployed at least half of the year and we have no family or close friends in this area… which means I am running around with my four young children, trying to get in on the deals! Unfortunately, some coupon show on TLC came out and inspired people to clear shelves in our area, so that compounded the problem. I would match the deals, clip the coupons and head out bright and early, only to find that someone had beat me to the products. Now I simply do what I can and keep an eye out for good prices and stock up when able. The same goes for clothes shopping.

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  11. Kristen

    03/08/2012

    This actually made me feel really at peace knowing that I’m not the only one who gives up deals just because the thought of taking a baby in the store trumps those deals! Meijer has been my fave place to shop also since they let you stack with the Mperks.

    I have a couple questions though: How are you able to build up Swagbucks so easily? I have been using it for a couple months now but still feel like it will take forever to finally get a giftcard!

    Second, is there a trick to getting your cleaning supplies and toiletries so cheap/free? I am willing to play the drug store game for a while, if that means a stockpile of those things!

    Thanks!

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    Ann Reply:

    What are Swagbucks?

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    sandysue Reply:

    go to swagbucks.com and download their tool bar–use it to search the internet instead of google or yahoo, and you earn swagbucks. You can trade swagbucks for giftcards to places like Amazon. It takes like 450 swagbucks to get a $5 amazon giftcard, so it does take some time! Hope this helps.

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  12. Kirsten

    03/08/2012

    I have a similar problem without the baby though. We live in a small town of less than 1000 people and are 30 minutes from the closest Wal-Mart. By the time I make the time to drive to town, I’m tired and couldn’t care less to go to multiple stores. I find it’s not worth the effort. I wanted to try out Alice.com for groceries and everyday supplies. I need to compare them to Amazon also, especially since I’m a Prime member!

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  13. Stacey

    03/08/2012

    ive never been able to get into the drugstore game. i tried but its really not worth it to me. I had the craziest experience at Walgreens once and ill never try to do that sort of thing again. I love Meijer too. Make sure you pay attention to the toys as they go on clearance there. Ive found amazing toy deals there on toys that are still full price at other stores. Like im talking ive been able to buy toys for only a few dollars more than what people sell used at garage sales.

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