August 31, 2010
Back in November of 2009, my sister started telling me about coupons. I’d tried clipping them in our super-tight money days, but never saved too much. It turns out, that’s because I didn’t know what I was doing! Clipping coupons is much more than cutting the ones out of the paper and expecting to save a bundle.
I started slowly, and before I knew it, I was saving almost as much as I was spending! She let me in on the secrets to shopping at Publix, a notoriously expensive grocery store, and after my first trip, I was hooked! It looked like this:
That’s right, spent $13.34, saved $35.90! That means I got $50 worth of groceries for $13 and some change.
So I went back again the next week:
I KNOW! Spent $12.10, saved $67!! (Some of the things I’d gotten I put in the fridge/freezer because I put them in the cart at the beginning of the shopping trip and they were warming up way too fast, so not everything is pictured.)
I still didn’t want to buy the rest of our groceries at Publix because I was getting tremendous deals at Kroger, too. Not quite like this, but I was saving at least half of what I was spending (ex: spent $70, saved $35). So I decided for 2010 I was going to keep track of everything I spent to see how much money I could save us in 1 year. I kept a spreadsheet and every time I went to the store, I documented it. For the month of January I spent $376.50 and saved $234.28. In February I spent $382.20 and saved $244.13 (this included 4 HUGE cases of wipes I got at Target. They were $14 for over 700 wipes. We’re only half way through them 6 months later!) Then in March I only had 1 trip to Kroger, spent $95, saved $48 before we got busy packing to move. Then we moved, Chloe was born, and things spun out of control. But now that she’s almost (GULP!) 5 months old, it’s time to get my butt back in gear.
I haven’t gotten a Sunday paper in months, so I’m WAY behind on paper coupons. I also didn’t plan this shopping trip until the last minute so lots of my internet coupons were no longer available. In total I missed out on over $25 in savings because I wasn’t prepared with my coupons. I’ve also decided it’s too much work to grocery shop in 2 stores, so now I’m doing 100% of the shopping in Publix. We have a Kroger the same distance from our house, but I’ve literally NEVER had a good experience in that store. It’s horrific. I’ve called the manager…twice…and he just doesn’t care. I’ll gladly pay a few dollars more for a cleaner store, OUTSTANDING customer service, and a better selection of produce!
So, I spent the morning planning a menu, a list, and getting my coupons together. It took us about an hour and 45 minutes to do our shopping, but the girls were angels and we made it out alive! This is what we managed to pile in the tiny car cart:
Not the kind of savings I like to see. If I’d had all the coupons I needed, I would have spent $141 and saved $71. Which is what I like—save half of what I spend. BUT, this is food for 10 days, and we’ll have a guest for 3 of them. Sooo, that makes it a little better!
I’m also trying to get rid of all the crap from our diets. I no longer buy things with HFCS, we eat only whole wheat/whole grain whenever possible, and I stocked up on a few things I got great deals on. I got 4 cans of Cream of Chicken soup for free, 9-packs of juice boxes for $1.30 each, 4-cup bags of cheese for $3.50 each, boxes of GM cereal for $1.40 each, a free 12-pack of Coke, Pop-Tarts for $1.40 per box (and scored a $1/1 coupon on the bottom! Their coupons are usually $1/3!), Totinos pizza’s (I know, not healthy AT ALL, but *I* still like to eat junk sometimes!) for $.40 each, and bags of Mahatma rice for $.19 each.
For the next 10 days our dinners will be:
grilled chicken, garlic potatoes, fruit salad
meatloaf, mashed pot, green beans
lasagna, caesar salad
And I’ve got lunched and breakfasts in there, too!
So, do you want to know more about how I do it?
First, choose a grocery store. Most stores will double coupons that are $.50 or less. (You don’t need 2 coupons, they do it automatically–a rookie coupon mistake I was making!) Some will double to $.99. Some will even triple! If you’re grocery shopping at Walmart, I URGE you to stop. Find an actual grocery store in your town and call about their coupon policy. Did you know most stores will accept competitor coupons?!
**side note: JoAnn’s also accepts competitor coupons! Take your Hobby Lobby, Hancock, or Michael’s coupons there and they’ll honor them!
Next, see if you can find help online. There are lots of blogs out there who do a good chunk of the work for you. My favorite is
Michelle breaks every weeks sales ad down and matches it up with coupons. She knows ALL the coupons that are out there, I swear!
One of the reasons I like Publix over Kroger for coupons is because they publish their entire sale every week. 85% of my coupons are from the Internet and I have to print them before I leave home. I’d get to Kroger and find 10 or 15 things on sale I could have also used a coupon on. I don’t like to print and waste paper, but I like to be well-informed before my trip. With Publix, it takes the guess work out of the equation for me. Plus, Publix does BOGO sales that are phenomenal. They basically mark each item at half price, and allow you to use a coupon on each!
Once you plan your menu and your list, hunt around for coupons for the other things on your list. Good places to start are:
thekrazycouponlady.com (the Krazy Coupon Lady is FULL of good info for lots of other stores, too)
You can only print each coupon twice from each computer (so if you have more than 1 computer in your home, or 1 at work 1 at home, print 2 from each for even more savings!)
I’m back to buying papers and I’ve already started printing coupons for things I want to pick up next week at Publix. I just love the feeling of saving money!