I am a very frugal woman. I watch our budget closely. We spend very little and I am always looking for ways to shave from our spending here and there. I'm sure there will be some posts soon about ways in which I save money, but, for now, let's talk coupons.
I checked out a book from the library the other day titled Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With America's Cheapest Family by the Economides. Seriously...that is their name. I read their first book and it was full of money-saving tips. I open this book. I'm rubbing my hands. I can't wait for the juicy tidbits that are going to save my family hundreds a month. Then...the first page. The ugly little number. The average American family spends $170 per person, per month on groceries. Boo. I'm already at half, if not less per person. The wind came right out of my sails. I was going to have to look for other ways.
I jumped over to Money Saving Mom. The last time I tried to work through the price matching/couponing going on over there, the twins were still in diapers and I didn't make it very far. I was ready this time. I read the Store Deals, made my lists, and readied my coupons.
OK, wait, I made that sound WAY too easy. It really took me several hours to get it all together. That was just for two stores. I decided that the Register Rewards and proximity to my house of Walgreen's was too good to pass up. For all the other deals, Wal-Mart will price match not only identical products, but also their store brand for another store's brand. For instance, if Office Max has Office Max brand of paper folders for 1 cent, Wal-Mart will let me have their brand of paper folders for 1 cent. Amazing. Add any coupons on top of those prices and I'm hoping my grocery budget will plummet.
I made my way into Walgreen's, found the items on my list, save one that had already sold out, checked out, $17 spent and went home. I sat down to check my items against my list and something just didn't add up. I was supposed to have $9 in Register Rewards and I only had $6. What went wrong? I got the ads out. I bought the wrong type of toothbrush!! Jeez!
I went back to Walgreen's, which I had planned on doing anyway to use my Register Rewards and because I was buying 2 of one item and wanted to get Register Rewards for both of them. That doesn't happen if you buy them both in the same trip. (That may sound more confusing than it really is...) I easily exchanged the toothbrush, got the $3 Register Reward taken off the order, paid with a $5 Register Reward from the trip that morning, and 65 cents out of pocket. I also got another $1 Register Reward. I could get used to this...
Here is what I got in the 2 trips for somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 with $2 in Register Rewards still in my pocket:
2 Oral B Complete Deep Clean Toothbrushes
Crest Complete Deep Clean Toothpaste
4 Large Bags of M&Ms
2 Boxes Playtex Tampons
3 Cans Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Bags Dove Minis Dark Chocolates
That night, I went to Wal-Mart and bought only great price match and coupon deals. I'll spare you the list. Just out of curiosity, I went over my receipt after I got everything put away to see what everything would have cost me if I had paid Wal-Mart prices without coupons. It would have cost around $145. I spent $75.
I can see where all of this will cost a bit more up front - stockpiling, building up Register Rewards, and most importantly in my time with familiarizing myself with "the system," but I can also see where it will lower our grocery bills in the long run by allowing us to wait for the lowest price possible before buying or paying nothing at all. It will also allow us to give more items to others in need. I believe that will be worth the investment.