Friday, October 22, 2010

I think I'm finally learning how to add

I've not had an issue with going over budget since we started doing the budget and envelope system, but at the same time I've had a time or two where I've been surprised by how much my total was when I got to the register.  I usually do one to two grocery trips in a week, depending on the sales.  Since Kroger runs Sun-Sat and Publix runs Wed-Tues, it's easy to compare them against each other and make sure I'm getting the best deals all around.  If things are even, I'll usually get them at Publix since from what I've seen on the things we buy the most their prices are about equal but since Publix doubles coupons (and our Krogers don't) and since I have a stack of $5 off coupons (ranging from $5/25 to $5/$50) that I can also use at Publix, Publix wins.  The last few weeks I've been spending less and less at Kroger.  Actually, I've been spending less and less at both stores but getting more and more.

Today I went to Publix.  We are at the end of our budget period and our envelopes get replenished tomorrow, BUT I won't have a chance to get to the grocery store again for a week or so, so I was a little more limited in what I could spend.  With that in mind, I didn't want to go to ring out and find that I didn't have enough in my envelope to pay for everything. So, my goal was to have everything in my basket total to less than what I had in my envelope BEFORE I used any coupons.  I did go over just a tad but it was because I had picked up a 6pk of beer for my hubby. I knew it was going to push it over but I also knew I'd be fine when it was all said and done.

I'm also getting a lot better about planning my trips out before I leave the house and knowing exactly what I'm going to get.  One thing that helps is waiting a little into the sale period to get some feedback from others on items that might not be advertised but are on sale.  For instance, this week at Publix Campbell's Chunky soup bowls are in sale for $1.29 but they aren't advertised.  My hubby enjoys these for his lunch during the week and I have quite a few coupons ranging from .50/1 to $2/4, so I picked up 8 for him to get him through the next couple of weeks.  I also went through my coupons one last time before I left the house to make sure I was using the best ones and in the process I noticed a coupon that was about to expire for Carnation Instant breakfast.  We both drink this stuff just about every day but I've yet to see it on sale and never see any coupons for it except the ones that print out at Kroger.  I had one of these from Kroger that was set to expire tomorrow, so I went ahead and used it at Publix and stocked us up on the stuff.

My Favorite Publix Deals This Week:
  • Nestle cookie dough BOGO @ 2.89, paired with 2 $1/1 coupons = 2/.89
  • Yo Crunch yogurt @2.69 (coupon in in store ad for BOGO, paired with 2/$1 coupons = 2/.69
  • Betty Crocker supreme brownie mix BOGO @ 2.69 (paired with $1/2 coupon) = 2/$1.69
  • Pepperidge Farms Cookies BOGO @ $3.39 (paired with 2 $1/1 coupons) = 2/$1.39
  • Glade Scented Candles 2/$4 (paired with $1.50/2 coupon) = 2/$2.50

The hardest part seems to be finding room for the overstock, but we are making that work too.

This may be the dumbest article ever! 8 Reasons Why You Should Coupon

Obviously written by someone who doesn't use coupons and has no clue what is available or how much using coupons could save them (in both time and money).

8 Reasons why Using Coupons is a Bad Idea

1. You don't have to buy a newspaper.  Even if you do you can use online listings like Sunday Coupon Preview to find out what coupons will be in the paper before you buy it and determine if it will be worthwhile to buy 1 or 10.  You can do coupons without ever buying a newspaper at all now and only get the coupons for items you will use thanks to all the online sites like , and

2. Clipping Coupons Takes Time... yes, yes it does.  But, for me it's time I would otherwise just be randomly surfing Facebook while watching tv.  The bulk of the time I spend regarding coupons actually revolves around doing our grocery list and matching coupons to the list.  However, in the few weeks we've been doing this we've found that we are not only saving on average of $50 week on groceries because of this effort... but in addition to that savings we have actually cut down our grocery bill as well.  So we are spending a lot less and getting a lot MORE at the grocery store.

3. I'm trying to figure out how getting a newspaper increases the advertising that comes to your home, especially if you don't have the newspaper delivered.  Even if you do, and your local newspaper sells your address for marketing purposes... that's what a recycle bin is for.

4. True, more of the coupons are for things we are not likely to buy than are for things we will buy.  This goes back to my earlier statement about finding out what coupons are in the paper before you buy it and determining if the value is actually there.  I've also found that as we've used coupons more we are becoming less slave to particular brands.  There are some things neither of us will settle on (Kraft Mac & Cheese, toilet paper, my razors, etc) but many other things where it really doesn't matter what brand we use, we were just used to buying particular brands and kept doing it.  Sometimes another brand is cheaper without a coupon and an item we have a coupon for... in that case we buy the cheaper brand and I leave the coupon behind for someone who is more picky. 

So what to do with all those extra coupons?
  • Pass them on to a friend who will use them.
  • Give them to a shelter (I don't plan to change the brand of food I feed my cats or get dogs any time soon, so I'll pass all the pet coupons on to someone I know who works at a shelter and pet sits.
  • Leave them at the grocery store for someone who will use them.  I've often taken a coupon to the store only to find another item was cheaper without a coupon. I just leave the coupon on the shelf for someone else.
  • Hang onto it.  If it's a type of product you use but not your usual brand, you may find that at some point a sale combined with the coupon will make the item free, and therefor worth trying a new brand.  Even if you won't use the item and it's free with the sale and coupon, you can always pick it up and donate it to a food bank or shelter.
  • Join or create a coupon exchange (find other couponers online or via your church or some other group and swap out coupons).
 5. Ok, Sometimes the coupons do tempt me to buy things I know aren't good for me that I might not buy otherwise.  Chances are I'd buy them anyway, I just wouldn't get as good a deal, or I might not have bought them right then.  We found that was our biggest problem with grocery shopping before. We'd buy whatever we wanted right then.  This often left us not having things we wanted later.  Can't make that favorite dish for dinner, we only have half the ingredients. I'd love a piece of chocolate but we don't have any, etc.  Shopping with a purpose, allows us to buy more for much less and have things on hand when we need/want them, rather than running to the grocery store every other day for things we forgot.

6. The Great News is that the same coupons are often offered over and over again.  This is also true of certain sales.  In the short time I've been watching the sales, I can already predict that the Soy Milk my hubby drinks will be on sale BOGO at Publix about every 3rd week.  Which is just about perfect considering how much of it he drinks.  Coupons tend to work the same way.  The trick is to stock up on the coupons that you will use and match them to those sales.

7. Yes, once you train yourself to use coupons and shop sales, it does become very difficult to go back to buying things at full price.  The great news is that you really don't have to, if you stock up.  And if by chance you get a craving for something you rarely ever buy and it's not on sale and/or you don't have a coupon don't make yourself suffer.  Just get it. You have to treat yourself occasionally.  But, chances are if you are paying attention you'll have whatever you want at a discount just about every time.

8. Shopping Actually Goes Quicker.  Because we now go to the store with a set list and coupons to match the list, we get out of the stores much quicker.  We used to linger wondering what to buy, each of us adding things.  Even if we had a list we didn't stick to it.  Now, we go in with a list and we get the items on the list and we are done.  It goes even quicker if you know your stores layout and can organize your list based on the layout of the store so you don't have to double back to things you forgot.