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Me vs. Coupons: Round 1

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Me vs. Coupons: Round 1
A while back, I wrote a post stating that I wanted to learn how to find and use coupons to get as much out of our grocery/household items budget as possible.

It's been awhile, so it's time I give an update on my progress. 

The First Attempt:

We made our list as we have done for years.  We wrote down ideas about what to make for meals for the coming week, and then made a list of the ingredients needed to make them, adding to that other household items that we needed.  After we were done I scanned the ads for the two major grocery stores that are nearby our house for coupons for anything on the list.

Nothing.  Not one single coupon.  Maybe I'm not "cut out" for using coupons after all.

Forgive the pun.

The Second Attempt:

Given the failure of the first attempt, it was time for a new strategy.  This time we looked through the ads first.  We had better luck this time around partially because we let coupons help shape our needs for the week, and partially because it just seemed like there were more things on sale that we generally purchase.

PopCorn Chicken .80 cents off $0.80
Frozen Pizza $2.50 each ($0.83 off reg price) $1.66 (bought 2)
Soda 3 12-packs for $10 $2.00
Soda Instant coupon $0.55 $0.55
Cat Food $1.00 off $1.00
Laundry Detergent $2.00 off $2.00
Hamburger $1.00 per lb $2.00 (2lbs)
Chips $1.00 off $1.00
Grapes $1.00 off per lb $2.25 (2.25 lbs)
Total: $13.26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coupons were split across the two grocery stores that are in close proximity to our home. We visit both stores anyway, as there are products that we use that are only found at one of the stores. We also bought a different brand of laundry detergent than we normally do in order to take advantage of the coupon.

The brand on sale was a major brand, and we felt comfortable that we were not sacrificing quality by using the coupon.

Our total shopping bill from both stores was $126.26, but would have been $139.52 if we hadn't used any coupons. We saved about 10% just by spending a few minutes looking at the ads and letting the coupons help shape what we were going to purchase.  

Not bad. But I know we can do even better. I've been searching for places other than the local ads for coupons, which I think will help get even more out of our grocery budget.

Tune in soon for another update, and see how much more I can save!

Related Links:

Master of Coupons..Not Quite Yet

Date Night at the Grocery Store

A Grocery Store Dilemma

 

Travis Pizel, CareOne Debt Management Plan Customer and BloggerTravis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

To connect with Travis on Google+ click here: 

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  • I like this.......... if you did that similar thing each week, you might save around $50 a month, which could be a nice payment on something, or a nice date night, or a nice new goody for the home.  Plus, it's kind of like a little 'game," which is always fun and challenging, PLUS, it got you to try a new approach.  All refreshing things.  That was good creative thinking.  I think so many of us are in "ruts" with our money, and just don't put enough effort into trying new avenues of saving or spending wisely.  Thanks for sharing this!  Hmmmmm, where is that mid-week flyer , I need to check it out.

  • That's a good way to think of it, conradsmom.....$13 doesn't sound like a ton of money, but if you multiply to get the amount per month - well, we're talking about something we could really do something with.  I really think this is just the beginning - I don't expect to go so far as to get hundreds of dollars of groceries for 2 cents or anything but I believe with a little more effort I can really make it worth my while.

    Other than saving money, you bring up a great point about trying something new - I hadn't thought about that.  I suspect that by continuing down this path we may use "what's on sale" for the week to push us to try new foods too - that would be pretty awesome as I feel we're in a rut with our menu too!  

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, you always put a spin on things that make me go back and think about my own blog posts again.  :)

  • I'm dipping my toe back into the water of couponing. I have tried in the past with spectacular results... for about a month. Then a depressive cycle hits or I just get swamped. Then the unclipped coupons pile up, causing guilt and anxiety, which makes it harder to coupon, which causes guilt and anxiety... You get the picture. While I"m frustrated that we're not saving more, I'm going to stick with printable coupons for the time being. I still get some savings, but the process isn't as involved. Plus you can get points for them through various rewards programs. Or as I prefer, 10 cents each through Inbox Dollars!

  • Not bad! That money will really add up. One place you can look is on the manufacture's website. We have had great results with things we buy brand specific if we look those up. I generally save that for the bigger ticket items like Tide or the cat litter. I don't buy them every week but when I do they hit the weekly budget hard because they are so expensive. Those companies often have coupons on their web pages.

  • Abigail, you outline exactly how I've convinced myself not to coupon up until this point.....couponing is one of those things that seems like you could put an enormous amount of time into if you wanted to.  I'm a "all or nothing" kind of guy, and if I feel like I'm not doing it all out, then why bother do anything.  I'm trying to break that thought process and show myself that with even just a little effort I can save enough to make it worth it.  Even with the little effort my wife and I gave listed above, we saved 10%.  Maybe if we put a little more effort we can save 15 or 20%.  Being a busy parents working full time++ with two active kids.....that's realistically the max we can devote to couponing.....and that would be OK.

    if you stick to just printable coupons, anything you save is greater than zero, and WORTH IT!  

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Abigail!

  • Check Manufacturer's websites - got it Kimmer5000, great suggestion!  Us cat people have to stick together.  LOL.  We also only buy cat liter, cat food, laundry detergent (and the like) every couple of weeks.  Those weeks tend to have quite a bit higher groceries/household items bill - so saving some dollars would ROCK!.  The thing that I dislike most about buying cat food is we had to switch over to a more expensive brand that has a "Sensitive Systems" variety.......if we feed them "regular" cat food they start to throw up around the house - and I tend to step in gooshy piles when walking down a dark hallway at 4:00am.  YUK.  So saving some money on THAT would be very welcome as well.  

    I'm really enjoying sharing stories and experiences back and forth with you, kimmer5000 - hope you keep coming back, reading, and commenting.  :)

  • Keep it up and maybe you will convince me to start using coupons.  I don't get a newspaper with the ads so I would have to use online coupons.  Good work t_pizel.  It always helps to use new ideas.  :-)

  • Ooooooh, that sounds like a challenge, Monica.  LOL.  I don't get a newspaper either - but I drive by the two places we go grocery shopping every day so I just stop in and grab an ad a day or two before we plan on going grocery shopping.  :)

  • Coupon Suzy.com is a great alternative to clipping from the weekly sales. I have also found coupons on individual retailer's websites as well

    Good luck to everyone trying to save with coupons. I find it frustrating at times but even a couple of dollars a week  saved makes me smile. I like the idea of stopping by the store and grabbing a weekly sales paper. Thanks for the idea!

  • Thanks for the pointer to http://coupon-suzy.com/ tamaragodwin!  Another site that was recommended in my first post was coupondivas.com - I'll be checking both of these out for my next shot at couponing.

    I'm glad I could pass along a tip to you too......hope it helps!

  • Every penny counts so I look forward to Travis converting me into a coupon clipper!!  :-)

  • Here are a few coupons sites I follow:

    http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

    www.couponcommunity.com

    http://www.iheartthemart.com/

    www.raininghotcoupons.com

    Hope the list helps.

  • Thanks Ashlee!  Some of those are already on my radar....but some are new as well.  Thanks for sharing!

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