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Dear Darlene – Answers to questions from a facebook fan

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I have been wanting for a long time to start a Dear Darlene series where I can answer questions from my facebook fans and blog followers. This fan’s questions prompted me to finally jump in and do it!

Question from facebook fan Jamie

Dear Darlene: a question….I have only been couponing for about 2 months now and I still feel like my monthly grocery bill is huge. I used to spend $500 to $600 a month, now I’m between $300 and $400 a month. I’d like to be around $200 a month ($50 a week). What am I doing wrong? How many months did it take you to get to a monthly budget you’re comfortable/happy with? About how much have you cut your monthly bill from non-couponing days?

Dear Jamie: You are doing great for only 2 months in! It takes time to get your bill waaaaaayyyyy down. As you build your stockpile, you will be able to spend less and less. Set a goal to knock off an additional $10 or $20 each week (and stick to your budget!!!) until you are where you want to be.  As for me, I cut my bill down to next to nothing really quick, like maybe in a month.  But, I was super strict about it. Let’s put it this way, saving money was an instant – and at times, very stressful and life controlling – addiction for me.  It.  Still.  Is.

Here are some of my tips to help everyone cut back faster:

1. Eat what you can buy, not what you want to eat: This one is simple. You need to make your shopping list according to what is free and cheap with coupons, or at least on sale if you don’t have coupons. If you can score 10 boxes of Total cereal, then until you have a stockpile filled with variety, you are eating Total cereal for breakfast… period!

2. Try buy your max of one or two free items each week: There is almost always something you can pick up for free each week, and your bloggers will point those items out to you. When you find a freebie, print as many coupons as you can and buy your max! If the coupons happen to state one per transaction (like in coupon booklets), bring your entire family and have them all buy one!

3. Don’t use coupons just because you have them: Only use a coupon if it brings the price waaaaaaay down.  You need to wait for sales.  If you must have spaghetti sauce and your coupon does not make the brand name cheap enough, buy the cheapest store brand.  If you don’t use coupons wisely, you will end up spending more money, not less.

4. Don’t give up:  Couponing can get very discouraging, especially in the beginning. It’s best to start out small and work your way up. Stick with it! If I can do this, anyone can!

5. Quit being fussy:  I’m going to tell it to you straight. If you have a fussy family, you might save a little… but you’ll never save a lot. It all goes back to point number 1 above. You have to eat what you can buy, not what you want to eat.

If you have a question, you can leave it on my Deals by Darlene facebook page, or if you want to remain anonymous, you can email me at


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