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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Couponing and Deals of the Week {1}

Couponing.  I think we've all been there. You find yourself at the check out with a handful of coupons...and you hold your breath as the cashiere rings you up. Your total: $220. Your savings: $15.

Those "buy 2 boxes of crackers for $1 off" coupons rack your bill up faster than you realize. And let's not forget the "buy 3 get 1 free" deals...ya know the deals where the store racks the price up to full value but you think you're getting a deal because one of them is free? Yep, I've been there too.

And I've left the store wondering how I spent $220 on a basket full of chips, cookies, crackers and other odds and ends but didn't even manage to get anything substantial to create more than two meals for dinner that week.  It is quite depressing.

And it's even more depressing if you are living on one income! If you are a stay-at-home mom like me, I'm sure that you have felt the burden to somehow contribute to the income. Though some may disagree, being a stay-at-home mom is more than a full time job and finding ways to contribute financially is very difficult.  And I know it's going to be even harder when I officially start homeschooling. But still I want to contribute.  And one way to do that is by saving as much money as possible when I shop.

But how do those extreme couponers on television do it? I personally do not have 30-60 hours to spare each week in order to be as extreme as they are.  Most of them spend their whole week dumpster diving for coupons, printing coupons, clipping coupons, price matching, special ordering items, and planning their shopping trip before they ever make it to the store towards the end of the week.  But their savings are usually over 90% each shopping trip. So after watching all 12 episodes of Extreme Couponing on Netflix, I decided to give it a whirl myself but on a smaller scale. 

Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming and chaotic at first.  And if you know me at all, then you know that I don't do "un-organized" very well.  My brain does not fuction properly in that state.  But now I have a big binder with my coupons organized and easy to find and I have a game plan for each week. And I am very pleased to say that my first week of "not so extreme couponing" went pretty well and I got some pretty awesome deals.

This is the schedule I followed this week and since it worked so well, I plan on repeating it each week. (and before you start thinking that my kids have been neglected, I should point out that most of this was done before my kids woke each morning, during nap time, or after they were asleep each night.) : )

My Game Plan:

Friday and Saturday: print online coupons (most sites like release their new coupons towards the end of the week)

Sunday: After Church, buy the Sunday newspaper and clip the coupons. Then collect the coupon section from other people who do not use them.

Monday: *Price Match* This is the key to extreme couponing.  This sets the regular couponer apart from the extreme couponer. The regular couponer clips coupons and uses them right away. The extreme couponer combs their store's flyers and ads each week.  They find the great deals and then they apply their coupons on top of these deals for even more savings.  Sometimes they will hang on to a coupon for weeks/months while waiting for that item to go on sale.

Monday Night: After the coupons are clipped and matched to the sales ad, it is time to plan the shopping trip out.  I did this by making a list for each store.  Each list included what items I was going to buy and what I was going to pay for each item after the sale price and coupons.  This way, I had an estimate of how much I was going to pay at each store to make sure it came out right.

Tuesday: Shopping Day...Because I have two little boys who don't love to shop, there was no way that I was going to try this with them.  So I woke up insanely early so that I could make it back home before Jordan had to be at work. Here are my results:

1. Walgreens (first trip: I actually made this trip on Monday to apply for their rewards card.  This was before I had done my price matching so I didn't get much): 

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers:
regularly $2.59 per box 
sale price $1.94 per box
4 boxes= 7.76
my coupons: buy 2 get $1 off (2 coupons)
end price= 4 boxes for $5.76

Purex Detergent:
regularly $5.79 per container
sale price $2.99 per container
3 containers=$8.97
my coupons: $1 off each container (3 coupons)
end price= 3 detergents for $5.97

Tide Stain Release:
regularly $4.29 per bag
sale price $3.99 per bag
3 containers= 11.97
my coupons $2 off each bag (3 coupons)
end price=3 bags for $5.97

Grand Total (after tax) $20.25
total savings: $22.90
56% savings

2. Walgreens (2nd trip):

Grand Total (after tax) $49.05
total savings: $46.33
51% savings

3. KMart

Grand Total (after tax) $21.79
total savings: $20.65

4. Save A Lot (a friend of mine suggested that I shop at Save A Lot for my canned goods.  Most of their food is off brand so it is hard to find coupons to use there.  However, because their prices are so much cheaper than most stores, you can shop there without coupons and still save more money on your canned goods than you would at Walmart with coupons.)

Grand Total (after tax) $84.19
total savings: $51.53

Total combined cost at all three stores: $175.28
Total combined savings this week: $141.41

In the end, I'm pretty happy with my savings this week.  This week I used my grocery budget to mostly stock up on household goods but my goal this next week is to stock up on more food items. I'm pretty set on canned goods for awhile so I'm hoping to find some good deals on other food staples and meat.  My friend let me know today that Country Mart releases their new flyer each Wednesday so I'm hoping to find some good price matches towards food items in it! I'm going to try to blog weekly on my couponing "adventures" so I'll let you know how it goes. I'm still very new at this so all "friendly" advice and suggestions are welcome!

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