This will be my final post about my actual shopping trips. I'm sure you're now bursting into tears - wondering how you're ever going to survive without constantly seeing what I buy - and at what store - and how much I pay for it. But - trust me - you'll survive. I've gotten a few questions about some more "specific examples" of my purchases, as well as some actual questions (I'll answer some of those at the end). So - here we go.
This week (today, actually) I shopped at Walgreens and Giant Eagle. We'll start with Walgreens, because these SAME principles work at CVS, and even if Walgreens isn't in your area, I'm positive CVS will be. This week Walgreens had more items I was interested in, and CVS appealed less to me. (They actually had several cross over sales, but I decided to buy those items at Walgreens and save myself a trip.) So...
I spent quite a bit of time preparing for this shopping trip - almost an hour. I started by visiting Couponing to Disney and clicking on her Walgreens section. Once I sorted through the deals she suggests, I consulted my own circular to make sure what I was interested in was at my local store. Next I collected my coupons (using her information as a guide). The longest part for me was deciding what would go in which transaction (I did two) and adding up how much each transaction would ring out as. - - - You'll see what I mean in a minute.
So - transaction #1 was all the items that gave me back Register Rewards (coupons that print at the register for "x off the next transaction". ALL of the items I chose to buy this week that had RR, I ALSO had a coupon for - and they were already on sale. (I figure if I'm gonna do this, I might as well get the biggest bang for my buck possible, eh?) Transaction #1 consisted of...
And yes - everything was something I was really interested in buying. (I need new face lotion - running low on body lotion - Aaron's razor has seen its last shave - my razor (Schick intuition) doesn't seem to have any coupons in the past 6 months so it's time for a new brand - etc.) And - I paid $46.34. That might seem like a fortune for those items when you can purchase "store brand" items for MUCH less (and a couple years ago I would have TOTALLY agreed with you) - but just wait.
I saved $35.86 on this order. Not bad - that's what, about 44%? Most people would say that was a pretty successful shopping / saving trip, eh? - - BUT - -
The Nivea gave me $5 in RR.
The Venus razor gave me $4 in RR.
The Gilette razor gave me $3 in RR.
And the Aveno gave me $10 in RR.
Oh - and I also have a rebate coupon for the full price of the Gilette Razor (So - I was actually PAID $3 to buy it).
So, what was I going to DO with that $22 in RR??? I was definitely NOT going to let myself FORGET to use them before they expire! I spent them on transaction #2.
THIS is why I spent almost an hour earlier today deciding what I was going to buy at Walgreens. I scoured their sales and my coupons to get the biggest bang for my buck. For transaction #2 I spent a whopping $1.23. Even at $23.23 (what I paid plus the RR) it would have been a good deal - the batteries ALONE were more than $10 at regular price. Now - there was one tiny slip up - which I DID catch - but not soon enough. The register forgot to print out the $10RR for the Aveno. I didn't realize that till I was about ready to pay for this order, a line was forming behind me, and my toddler announced to everyone in the entire store that he had reached the end of his rope. So, rather than asking the guy to void the entire order and print out the MIA RR, I just paid, and the manager brought one right over to me. (He had noticed as I went through the store how, um, calculated I was being - so he didn't even look at my receipt - he took my word for it.)
So - let's pretend my toddler didn't have echoing screams in the store, and the RR printed out the way they were supposed to, and I had used it on the transaction. All together - between the two transactions I spent $47.57 - I saved $83.16 - oh, don't forget the $8.99 rebate - I actually saved $92.15 - 66%. I bought 28 items - which averages to $1.70 EACH. Not bad. So - depending on how you look at it - I saved $92.15 from about an hour's prep work. So, today I EARNED (my family) $92.15 an hour. How much do YOU earn an hour at YOUR job?
Giant Eagle was much more cut and dry. Today I purchased 22 items...
Using coupons - and sales - I spent $42.47 - I saved $32.23 - 43%. (Everything was on sale - and everything had a coupon - the Tide Stain Release was FREE.) I also got two free cookies (one for each boy) from the Bakery. And somewhere in the store I dropped my coupon for the sausages - that hurts.
I also got $8 in coupons toward my next order...
... and earned $0.10 off my next fill-up.
I'll add a quick disclaimer here. In the past three weeks I've bought enough face soap, lotion, chap stick, etc. to last me a year. So - next week I won't buy any more of those items (unless they end up costing less than $0.50 - that might tempt me...). It's NOT necessary to purchase non-perishables like that ONLY when you actually NEED them. Buy them when they're cheapest.
[EDITED TO ADD]
Recap of Week Two
Actually - this was week three of my shopping (but two week of me blogging about it).
SPENT - $87.04
SAVED - $124.38
PERCENTAGE SAVED - 59%
PURCHASED 50 ITEMS
FOR AN AVERAGE OF $1.74 EACH
COUPONS EARNED FOR NEXT TRIP -
$22 from Walgreens (already used them)
$8 from Giant
Q - Okay, so you buy groceries that are not at full price - can you actually make real meals out of this stuff?
A - Yes. I keep a well stocked (stuffed) pantry / freezer / chest freezer. My fridge is usually actually pretty empty - it mostly has produce, dairy, and left overs. When I go grocery shopping, I generally shop based on sales, and then decide what meals I can make from what's in the house. Of course if I'm having a diner party, then I go out and buy ingredients for a recipe. But my house is so well stocked (from previous sales / coupons), that if there's a problem finding something nutritious to cook, it's because I'm just not in the mood to cook it. I make sure I use everything up before it goes bad - but I might not make those cookies till Spring. They were a good price today - so today I bought them.
Q - But, doesn't there have to be a way to feed your family for less? I mean, come on, is pricey Digornio really necessary when the store brand tastes fine?
A - My point in explaining all of this is NOT to show how cheaply I can feed my family. When we were preparing to relocate, I spent an average of $25 on groceries each week - for about 4 months straight. If push comes to shove - I can do it - I have done it. (I have a girlfriend for whom that's been about her budget for years now.) That's not my point. I've had friends ask how I shop - if it's REALLY possible for me to buy 9 boxes of name brand frozen veggies for 16 cents each. I'm sharing with them (and you) the process. Our budget doesn't currently require that I feed my family for $0.30 per person / per meal (that's what $25 per week averages out to with a family of four). I didn't just go through the circulars and find the cheapest of the cheapest to blog about. I shopped the way I shop - and I'm sharing it.
Q - So, what's your point?
Point #1 - You can have the lifestyle without paying through the nose for it. I know we're in a recession, and consumer spending might help it rebound a bit faster. But my foremost responsibility is to turn this house into a home - and part of that is "finding" the money to do just that. I save in one area so I can spend (or invest) in another. My purpose as a sahm is NOT to help Tide's 4th Quarter profit margins - but one of my roles IS to stretch the money that my husband works so hard to make.
Point #2 - If you have a tight budget, you CAN still buy things you WANT and be able to afford them. You might not buy that fancy razor this week - but maybe next week the store will PAY you to buy it. Do your homework. If you want it badly enough you'll find a way (other than just racking up your credit card).
Point #3 - Use the resources that are out there. I love Couponing to Disney. Moms Need to Know is another great resource. You don't have to get a degree in "saving" or "couponing" - the internet is a fabulous tool. Basically all you have to do is buy two newspapers, and wait for those blogging ladies to hand you the deals on a silver platter.
Point #4 - My grandmother lived through the depression. My mother grew up learning how to stretch a penny into a dollar. I was taught this stuff from birth. (You should see my sister save - she puts me to shame!) But most of my generation hasn't been taught how to save - only how to spend recklessly and wrack up debt. A can of Progresso tastes the same if it costs you $2.29 or $0.88 (what I paid for it tonight - on sale with a coupon).
Point #5 - I don't care what your budget is. The more you save in one area, the more you have to spend elsewhere. Figure out what your budget is - your actual expenses - your priorities - your future goals (and what you need to get there) and MAKE IT WORK!