4/26/2011

How To Save Money Without Extreme Couponing

To Coupon or Not To Coupon

So the other night I decided to tune into the new TLC show, Extreme Couponing. I knew it wasn't going to be something I'd ever get into and I know it's a TV reality show that isn't exactly...reality. I was pretty annoyed by the hoarding tendencies I saw but I will admit that I was at least a little inspired.

Not what I bought this week!
I've used coupons off and on forever. More recently I had checked out services like The Grocery Game that show you how to pay pennies on the dollar for lots of stuff but I decided for various reasons they weren't for me. I faithfully shop at local grocery store HEB and SuperTarget and that's it. The TV show along with several other friends who are great at couponing and save a ton prompted me to put in a bit of extra work last week to see how much I could save.

The first step was one I took a few weeks ago. Someone knocked on my door and offered to sell me the Sunday newspaper for only 50 cents a copy. In the past I have often bought it on the way OUT of the grocery store for $2.50 in order to get coupons for the following week. That practice is nowhere NEAR as effective as paying 50 cents a copy to have it delivered to my door so I can clip the coupons BEFORE going to the store!

The second step was pulling out the weekly fliers for Kroger, HEB, Target and CVS. I did one big coupon trip to Kroger, the first time I'd shopped there...ever...and determined I hated it. They recently stopped doubling and tripling coupons in Houston so that destroyed the biggest reason all my friends shop there. I was highly unimpressed with their meat, seafood and produce. A few items were pennies cheaper than HEB, but most were actually more expensive.

Simple Couponing Techniques

So this past week I focused on Target and CVS. The great thing about SuperTarget is that they put out a huge number of store coupons, which can be stacked on top of manufacturers coupons. I find that for staple processed foods like cereal and frozen pizza, SuperTarget has the cheapest prices. So I carefully went through my coupons and combed the flier to see where coupons matched up with sale items. I compared prices of certain things that were on sale in both Target and CVS and made two piles and two lists. I refused to buy products we don't normally use and I focused as much as possible on household goods and non-junk foods.

Big Savings Results

My results? At Target my final bill ended up being $139 with $60 in savings. That totally amazed me. The biggest coupon was $7 off Zyrtec-D, a product I use literally EVERY DAY. Not everything I bought had a coupon or was even on sale, but I had coupons for clementines, fresh artisan bread, bagged lettuce, yogurt, and boneless skinless chicken breasts. That just goes to show that coupons are not all for junk food. I also used a lot of coupons on dog treats, a couple of beauty products, and paper products.

At CVS I focused on the upcoming Easter holiday but I also noticed they had milk and my Tide laundry detergent super cheap. I know it is not the cheapest method but I always by the smallest bottles of Tide because the larger ones don't fit in my cabinet. I had coupons for Tide, candy, and some haircare products. My total bill was $40, I saved $30 and I got $7 in CVS ExtraBucks, which I can spend on my next trip there.

All this really didn't take that much extra work on my part and I didn't even go online to lookup and print coupons like I have done in the past. I am definitely inspired enough to put in that tiny bit more effort each week to save money.

What's YOUR couponing philosophy? Got any east tips for me? (I'm all about easy.)

This post is linked up at the Works for Me Wednesday blog hop.

9 comments:

Mainline Mom said...

I need to start couponing again, I think. I like the savings but we try not to eat processed foods so it's kinda hard to devote a lot of time to it when there's not usually coupons for fresh foods. You should make your own laundry detergent. We save about $400 a year by making it ourselves.

Mainline Mom said...

I'm not a Target food shopper, but I added their list to my Grocery Game listing two weeks ago. I have yet to use them for various reasons, but I'm making my first trip on Saturday. Aside from Kroger (old Kroger DEFINITELY not "new" Kroger), CVS is my biggest money maker. Laundry detergent, beauty supplies, paper products ... all non-food items - you can make out like a bandit there!

Mainline Mom said...

For groceries, we don't use coupons. This is because what we normally buy isn't coupon friendly. We do get specials on meat, we are in a cow share for raw dairy, and we buy the best priced veg that we can (by shopping around). We use those shopper cards (that track what you buy and give you discounts), and that's about it. Since we don't buy a lot of prepackaged/prepared foods -- except mustard -- we just don't use anything that would have coupons.

But, we do use coupons for dining out. First, we find coupons in the papers and stuff at random (yes, literally at random; i don't look for them), and we use those. Second, we use those group voucher systems that you find online like Groupon. we've used these to sell our business, but I also purchased things with them.

We've mostly used it for dining out, but we recently purchased one for family bowling and also one for dentistry.

I know the dentistry one seems weird, but because accidental health care is covered here, as well as basic doctor visits for physicals (social medicine), we don't carry health insurance right now (which has it's benefits. it's a both/and system here.). So, we don't have dental.

For children, it's covered, but for us, since we don't require a lot of extensive care, we just decided to forgo insurance for the time being. We still wanted our check-ups, which cost $100, and we also wanted our cleanings which cost $150. Insurance costs more, btw.

Now, the dentist appointment -- which included x-rays and was, by far, the best dental experience i've ever had, cost me $45. the hygienist cost $100. I have to get a filling redone (it's old, and causing some pressure on the tooth), which will cost $230. All in all, not bad, considering insurance for us for dental would be around $700 per year. So, it's much less to go about it this way.

We also learned from our dentist that the hygienist usually does x-rays, and if she sees a problem, will ask for a consult with the dentist. Then, the dentist has a look, and if everything looks fine, no need for the separate dentist appointment (and cost). So, that saves us money too. But, we can get coupons for it online, and so we do. :)

Overall, I shop well and as frugally as I can, but when you are buying as I do -- which is all natural stuff -- it rarely goes on sale, you can't usually get it at target and the like (we don't have target here anyway), and blah blah blah. So, i just don't worry about it. :)

But when I can find coupons, I do use them.

Mainline Mom said...

Girl, I don't spend anywhere near $400 a year on detergent. We try not to eat a lot of processed foods either which is why I tried to point out the fresh foods and household goods I was able to use coupons for. I am increasingly finding coupons for fresh, organic, and natural foods in the newspaper, magazines, mail and online.

Mainline Mom said...

The best coupons are the ones Target gives me, either in the mail or at the checkout. Seriously they are great, especially when stacked with manufacturer coupons, but you probably have to shop there regularly to get them.

Mainline Mom said...

Groupon is great, I love them. There are many many similar group sale flash sites popping up here now too with a real focus on local retailers.

Mainline Mom said...

I like the concept of coupons, but have found it difficult to use them. Our local paper doesn't have inserts (ugh!!) so everything I can pull is online, which with 2 toddlers can be a bit tricky. I'm on the hunt for a better practice!!

Mainline Mom said...

You did a great job! I've been couponing for a few years now and have a reasonable (not 'extreme'--I agree about hoarding tendencies in that show!) stockpile. Lately I've been trying to buy only sale items that have coupons (along with fresh food, of course.) I love seeing 45-60% savings!
BTW, I love Target. I find their prices to be very competitive. We really enjoy the boneless chicken tenderloins, which run about 2.39 a pound here. You're lucky to see them on sale for less than $3.00 in the regular grocery.
One thing I like to do is to take out my coupons and do a search on my supermarket's site for what coupon items are also on sale. It's pretty quick and filters out the ones that won't do me much good this week.
The best tip I ever read on saving money? Never buy things when you need them. Buy them when they are rock bottom cheap and put them in your stockpile! Sales cycle about every 3 months so figure out what you'll need to last you that long and go from there. (More on hoarding and that show--who needs 75 bags of chips? Who's gonna eat it all before it goes bad?????)

Mainline Mom said...

I am not a couponer. It seems so tedious and difficult. I always think "Where will I find the time?" And I don't really buy a lot of brand name things like snack foods, so I just figured it wasn't for me. But clementines? And fresh bread, yogurt, and chicken breasts? I can totally get with that. I may just change my ways. And I'll have you to thank. Now lets just hope I don't start hoarding and taking my children dumpster diving.

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