This may be one of the most boring posts I’ve ever written but since my little rant last week about budgeting, I figured I’d post a little about my experience with couponing this weekend.
I had one goal this weekend. Make a meal plan for the week, get a Sunday paper, clip coupons, and buy only the things I need this week. Okay so that sounds like a lot of goals, but they all serve one main purpose: To cut back on food costs.
So how did I do?
First, I checked out StlMommy.com. She posts tons of great deals every day. I honestly don’t know how she does it, but she’s a fantastic resource for local deals. It was there that I learned that my closest grocery store was offering Triple Coupons this week, meaning they’ll triple any coupon you bring in that’s $.75 or less. I also spent WAY too much time looking at sites like Coupons.com and SmartSource.com only to have gotten too lazy to print anything out. Instead, the hubs ran out Sunday morning and picked up a paper for me. After looking at all the ads and clipping the coupons I needed, I adjusted my list a little and made a game plan to go to Target for the $10 giftcard offer on Pampers and their sale on Halloween candy, then to my local grocer for all of my grocery needs (a store called Schnucks for all you locals).
I usually buy my diapers online since I’m an Amazon Prime member and I get free shipping. But with the $10 giftcard offer on two packs of diapers at $25 each, I probably saved an additional $8 than if I would have ordered them online. I also bought some Halloween candy that was on sale and came with a free Tombstone pizza offer, which was valued at about $2.84 + tax. So I saved roughly $11 at Target on things I needed anyway. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.
Then I went to Schnucks and this is where things got complicated. I don’t use coupons often, but I’ve compared prices enough to know that coupons are only useful when that’s A) a brand you insist on buying or B) it’s the cheapest option, after coupons. And the latter doesn’t happen very often. For example, I had a coupon for Gillette razors but even with a tripled coupon, the BIC ones were cheaper so I didn’t use it. So I took a lot of time looking at my list, checking to see which items I had coupons for, and then price checking everything to make sure I was getting the best deal. This doubled the amount of time I spent at the grocery store and was one of the few times where I didn’t have D or the hubs with me. The result? I saved about $13 in coupons, and another $25 in sales, so a total of $37 savings on a $107 grocery bill. But since I spent the most time on the couponing portion (since I would’ve bought the items on sale anyway) I only count the $13 as added savings. Add that to the $11 I saved at Target, minus the $2.50 I spent on the paper, and I saved $21.50 that I wouldn’t have normally saved.
Was that $21.50 worth the 3-4 hours of extra time? I’m not sure. I don’t exactly enjoy couponing or deal hunting as I’d rather be taking my little boy to the park or being lazy on the couch, but I’m guessing that’s the case with most people and it’s not like we budget because we want to. We budget because we have to. I’m hoping I get a bit faster at this whole meal planning/list making/coupon clipping thing so that it feels more worth it and becomes less of a hassle or chore.
One rookie mistake I made was making my list before making my meal plan. And making my meal plan before checking out the deals/coupons. I ended up changing my meal plan and therefore my list about 3 times in the middle of the store because I found things on sale (like bacon for BLTS) that would be cheaper than my original plan of pot roast and potatoes. Ideally, my goal is to get our meals down to around $80 a week while still incorporating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. I don’t even know if this is possible, but I’m going to keep trying!