Once you've got the hang of it, being able to save big bucks on almost anything you buy shouldn't take that much time.
Obviously - one shouldn't buy stuff one has no need for just to save $ (exception to that rule: Using the following strategies, I'll buy items I don't use if they end up costing me nothing - Then donate it to the local Hospice (toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, shampoo, etc - they really need these items ALL the time) or to other organizations like Any Baby Can, for teen mothers (makeup, hair coloring, diapers, etc)
Coupons are good start - but start to combine that with rebating!
For example, is there a Walgreens where you live?
Each month they have a rebate book put out in the store.
I concentrate on the items that will end up being free.
Example - A bottle of body wash will be on sale for $3.99, the rebate will be $3.99, PLUS I have a $1.00 off coupon, PLUS Walgreens will give you an extra 10% for taking your rebate back in the form of Walgreens gift card. Taking 8.25% tax into consideration, I actually end up earning 75 cents - and get free soap to boot.
You submit it all in one submission at the end of the month, and a few weeks later you get your gift card. And who doesn't buy stuff at the drug store all the time?
I submit anywhere from $5.00 to $35.00 + worth from Walgreens alone each month.
Plus - I submit one from my house in my husbands name, and one from work in my name - Double!
Oh - and you can use a coupon found in there walgreen book - let's say $1.50 on Excedrin and ALSO use a manufacturers coupon from the Sunday paper and double your savings.
Once you get a system - the whole deal will take about 15-20 minutes a month.
The stuff I buy I keep in the bags and toss in a corner, until I sit down one evening and fill out the form. That it!
Look at it this way - People stress and make themselves crazy over the stock market changing one point.
If you used a $20 off $100 coupon - you just made a 20% return - TAX FREE.
When I do the above - I am making 110% on my money. Take THAT coupon/rebate scoffers.
Rebates are everywhere - appliances like refriderators to Q-tips.
Personally I don't like thrift store clothes - just a personal preference against hand-me-downs.
I hate clothes shopping - so when I do go - I avoid trendy stuff - stick with the classics (good taste never goes out of style) and buy the best quality I can justify.
Side note - invest in the best - yourself - Don't buy foods that are cheap, unless they're nutritious as well.
Someone commented to me that they don't want to spend the extra money on the leansest cuts of meat. My response: "It's much cheaper than angioplasty".
When a check for $10 or $5 or $19.99 comes in, my husband used to joke, "Well, our money problems are over!"- He still says that, but we both smile because he's seen few hundred on these check that have come in. You do the math.
There is just SO MUCH money out there, why shouldn't I get some of it?
If you make it a game, it's pretty fun.