A couple weeks ago, one of the gals at my MOPS table invited me to a couponing class with her. She is a self-proclaimed “crazy coupon lady” who doesn’t purchase things without a coupon. She gets most of her groceries at a huge discount, free – or sometimes even makes money back on the deal. I have never used coupons. Just kind of figured I didn’t have time for it…or, I guess that my time was worth more than the coupons were going to save me. I really haven’t even ever shopped the local ads. If I’m feeling really on top of things, I make a list of meals I’m planning to prepare for the week and then go get the stuff. Usually though, I hit the grocery store on my way home from the gym – pick up a few things for dinner and then repeat a couple times a week. I know this is not the best way to run my grocery shopping, and as a stay-at-home mom, feel like a total underachiever in this area.
I didn’t end up going to the class, but haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I’ve paid way too much for groceries for far too many years. So, after much thought, and receiving my post-Christmas credit card bill, I have decided to give it a try. I’ve been watching the weekly ads for the past two weeks to get an idea of what a good price on my normal grocery items actually is, and have also discovered (Thanks April!) two wonderful websites. Fistful of Coupons and Fabulessly Frugal – both are local sites that list out great weekly deals and how to use coupons in addition to the sale prices to save serious money.
Today was my first test. I spent about an hour utilizing the printable coupons from the links on the couponing sites, and made out a list of all the items that were great deals. Then I looked for recipes I could make from those items (what good is it to get stuff…even mostly free stuff, if I’m not actually going to use it?). Since the weekly ads run Wednesday to Tuesday, I went out tonight to get the sale-ending stuff and made another list of items to purchase tomorrow. I printed and clipped lots of coupons, put them in an envelope and headed off to the store.
I was very careful to buy only items on my list. This is a total change from the way I’ve shopped in the past. It was kind of hard at first, but I kept reminding myself that the goal was to purchase items at the lowest possible price – and anything I didn’t immediately need, could wait until it was on sale. Because I have a garantry (garage pantry) and extra freezer, I bought in bulk. More stuff on sale means more savings and less likelihood of running out before it’s back on sale.
When it came time to check-out, I felt a little like Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to see how much I’d saved. I verified how I could use my coupons best on a couple items, and got some substitutions for discounted things the store was out of stock on. When all was said and done, I spent $52. And saved $66. Fifteen of that savings was from coupons I’d clipped. Another forty was a result of shopping off the in-store ad coupons. Huh, that could add up really quickly. I know it’s not as amazing as some of the stuff I’ve seen on websites – people spending nine bucks for fifty dollars in groceries, but I feel pretty stinking successful as a first time couponer.
Knowing I got my groceries for less than half price, and am enabling my family to eat well without spending a fortune feels great. I plan to continue spending a few hours a week on coupon related efforts, in order to pay far less at the checkout counter. Shout out to April, my friend from MOPS who provided me such invaluable resources and showed me how to shop smarter. 🙂