April 22, 2011

Adventures in Couponing Week 1-2

Lately we've been getting the local newspaper for free for a limited time deal.   I decided to take the opportunity to try out using coupons a little bit.   My history with coupon use for grocery shopping has been pretty unsuccessful.   I've tried it once or twice before but given up after not saving much money for the effort.   But I've always known that it is possible to save a good amount on groceries by using coupons.  So I decided to give it another shot and see if I could make it work.

The experiment

To say it quickly, I'm just going to try out clipping coupons for a while and see what kind of savings I can get from a relatively small amount of effort.   If you want to do couponing right then I think you'd  really have to watch all the sales for several grocery stores to maximize your returns.   But I am not going to shop around at every grocery store in town.   I don't want to spend a lot of extra time on my shopping and I don't have several extra hours a week to dedicate to an experiment.  So I'm just going to mainly shop at our regular grocery store and maybe add in side trips if theres a really good deal elsewhere.    I'll try it for a few weeks and see how much I save and figure out if its worth the effort and the cost of the newspaper.

Results of First Two Weeks

First I took a few minutes at work one day to log into the website for our primary grocery store.   From their website I could "load" several coupons onto my loyalty card.   This way I automatically get the coupon savings at the checkout just by swiping my loyalty card.   This is the modern high tech version of couponing.  I found a few good coupons there. 

For the first two weeks I looked through all the coupons in the Sunday paper and  cut out anything that we might use.   I got a good 1-2 dozen coupons that were possible purchases.    Some of them are brands that I know we routinely use so those should give me some good guaranteed savings.   Other coupons were for products that we might buy but nothing  we have an immediate need for.

The local Albertsons ran a deal with 3 double coupons.  The double coupons would match the savings of a manufacturer coupon.   I could use these to get even more savings on the other coupons I'd clipped.   However here were some restrictions on the double coupons.  They will only double up to $1 per coupon and they did not give cash back.

We normally do grocery shopping on the weekends, usually on Saturday.   I only used 2 coupons for our normal grocery run this week.

At our regular grocery store I used a couple coupons to save on coffee:
Folgers coffee $7.99 -$1.00 store coupon - $1 manuf coupon = $5.99
Soup for $1 off purchase of 2
Coupon savings = $3.00

When I found the 3 double coupons I decided to make a separate trip to Albertsons to cash in on those.

Here is what I got at Albertsons with the double coupons:
Cat food 16 oz box $2.49 - $2.00 coupon doubled = free
ACT mouth wash $4.29 - $1.00 coupon x 2 = $2.29
Silk soy milk $3.89 - $1.00 coupon x 2 = $1.89
When I was there I also picked up a couple sales items:
Pepsi 12 pack on sale $4.34
Cheerios on sale $2.99

Total cost $11.60
Total Savings $11.35

Coupon Savings $6.49

In two weeks I've spent about one hour of effort total between some coupon clipping and a separate trip to Albertsons.

Total coupon savings $9.49

I still have the following coupons that we might use in the future:
Tea $0.50 off
Dog food $2.00 off
Two boxes of Rice Krispies $1.00 off
Soy milk $1.00 off
Two Paper plates $1.50 off
Cosmetics $1-3 off

$9.49 in savings isn't bad for my first effort.   I'll continue to clip coupons as we get the paper and monitor the progress moving forward.

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