Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grocery Shopping Like A Champ

Alright, here's a confession: I am what Coupon Mom would call a "rookie shopper," meaning I manage to combine coupons and sales to save around 30-50% on my grocery bills, but I have yet to reach the level of a "professional shopper" who can save 80-90% on grocery bills:

She makes it look so easy, doesn't she?

I think I need to get around to doing the following to reach this level of savings:
1. Create my price list
2. Get my hands on multiple copies of coupons
3. Get a better organizational system for my coupons - currently the circulars from my Sunday papers are stashed in a draw of my computer desk in no particular order, causing me to spend triple the time to find coupons.

However, what I really want to emphasis here is while it may be difficult to reach the 80-90% savings level of professional shoppers, the ones who create their own money saving blogs such as Money Saving Mom (my favorite), avoiding full retail price is really not all that difficult. I would say, with the exception of certain items like produce, anyone who pays full price is either: A. Independently Wealthy or B. Lazy.

Even if you are too busy to scout for coupons and promotions, you can pick-up the store circular at the front of the grocery store before shopping, and find something you could use on sale. You just need to be open minded about brands, and maybe decide you will eat chicken on sales this week instead of the beef you had planned.

Today I got $106.43 worth of groceries for $48.02 after a 7% sales tax at my local Big Y. While the 55% savings doesn't qualify me to write my own money saving blog, I am pretty satisfied with that. I got a grocery cart full of goodies.

Some of my favorite deals include the 99 cent Gold Medal Flower. I got 2 bags, which was the limit. I also got a dozen eggs for 99 cents - sweet. While I don't have a price list committed to paper, I do remember the price for some items, and I have a buy price-point that I rarely go over. For example, I know I can get a dozen eggs for $1.50 at BJ's. I have to buy 2 dozen, and I have no problem with that since Rob eats a lot of eggs. Since I don't like to stock up too much on eggs that are perishable, and the $1.50 price is constant, not dependant on some sale cycle I must follow, I consider that reasonable, but when I see eggs for cheaper than $1.50, I jump on the deal. I don't expect to always get eggs at 99 cents. I just haven't figured out how to do that.

I was also very excited to see 3 store coupons in my Big Y circular that allowed me to double any manufacturer's coupons that was valued at a $1 (no more or no less). In other parts of the country, doubling coupons over 99 cents might be commonplace, but where I live, most grocery stores will only double up to 99 cents. Luckily all of my coupons were for a $1. Basically, I considered these coupons $1 off store coupons. I was able to use all 3 of them, which was the limit.

I saved $8 in coupons. I know I could do better, but Rob was proud of me.

All in all, this week was actually an expensive grocery week for us. We went to CVS, BJ's and Big Y. I spent approximately $6 at CVS, and I am mad that I lost the receipt because it had $2 in Extra Care Bucks. At CVS I got 2 boxes of Quaker Chewy granola bars (mfg coupon + sale + ECB), 2 small bottles of  Xtra Laundry detergent (store coupon + sale), and 3 greeting cards I paid full price on (I needed to get them - can't skip out on Mom's birthday). I used $10 in ECB to help pay for the purchase.

At BJ's Rob spent approximately $106. He got our milk for the next 2 weeks there, which is a staple we usually get at BJ's, along with eggs. My max buy price for milk is $2.06 a gallon. When I saw milk for 98 cents a half-gallon with a silver coin at Big Y last week, I jumped on that. He also got bananas at 49 cents a pound. I know professional shoppers can get them at 18 cents a pound, but I haven't figured out how to do that, and 49 cents a pound is my max price for bananas. He did go off the list when he picked up Dove for Men.

I don't mind that he did that, I just wish he would have told me he planned to buy the Dove for Men because we have coupons. I discovered I could get free samples for many things, one of them being Dove for Men, and now Rob's hooked. I guess that's why the manufactures give out the samples. Congratulations Dove - your ploy worked on us. That's OK. The hubs deserves his little luxuries now and then.

The total for the week was $160. That amount used to be typical for us, but now we typically spend about $80 a week - that includes diapers, toiletries, and paper products. But our pantry and freezer needed replenishing. Next week we will only buy about $10 of produce at our local produce store, and pick up some bread, hopefully for no more than $1.50 a loaf at our local Freihofer's outlet.

Paul is getting really low on diapers, but I do have an emergency box in the next size I could break into (there were none left at CVS in his current size when I got those diapers on sale). It seems the diaper deals at CVS are slowing down. I thought I could ride that gravy train forever. Now I may have to settle for Wal-Mart brand.

There is a promotion at Babies R Us on Pampers and I have coupons. I might do that, but it is one of those deals where you buy 2 value boxes of diapers or a value box of diapers + a value box of wipes and you get a $15 gift card. The good news is I can turn around and use the $15 gift card on some Carter's sale items for friends who are soon expecting babies. The bad news is the sale flyer doesn't say how much the value box of Pampers costs at Babies R Us. I suspect the price is inflated. I hate that. I will see sales for buy 1 get 1, but how can I plan my spending when I don't know how much the one item costs?

Oh well, I can't complain. We are spending much less on groceries than we used to, and I'm learning along the way.

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