Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I was recently at our local grocery chain (Kroger) and there was a man there with a big binder full of coupons. I had my index card box full of them as well and when we saw each other we laughed but struck up a conversation about the importance of coupon-clipping and how much money it can save.
I started couponing in April of 2008 when I knew I was going to lose my job...I worked as a credit analyst for a sub-prime third-party lender. My job was ending in June and I was going to be a stay-at-home mom for the first time and I knew for us to be able to do that, we would have to cut some corners.
I never bothered with coupons in the past because I always thought the savings were too small to be worth the effort...but I was DEAD WRONG. A coworker asked me if I had ever shopped at Kroger and I told her that I only shopped at Wal-Mart because Kroger was too expensive. She said she thought the same thing until she discovered Kroger's weekly circular and the fact that they DOUBLE coupons everyday up to 60 cents off. She also mentioned that because Wal-mart is a grocery and GOODS store, you end up spending way more than normal because you make non-grocery purchases that you didn't plan to make...impulse buys.
I got to thinking about that and researched my Wal-mart expenditures for the past 12 months. In my pre-planned budget, I ear-marked $500 a month for groceries, but was actually spending $900 a month at Wal-Mart!!!! I was shocked. That was $225 a week instead of $125 a week. Right then and there, I went to Kroger and picked up a circular. I spent about a week going up and down every aisle at Kroger and really looking at prices, and the next week I did the same thing at Wal-Mart. I am ashamed to admit this, but in the past, I never really looked at prices when shopping. I assumed Wal-Mart had the lowest prices and if it went into the cart we really needed it and when we got to the end, it just costs what it costs. HUGE mistake.
After I got to know what a "good price" on stuff was, I started clipping coupons in the Sunday paper, something I had never done before. I got my mom and grandmother and mother-in-law to give me their inserts as well, so I'd end up with 4 of a good coupon if I really liked it.
After a while, I wondered where I could get more, even better coupons. I had heard that people were downloading them and printing them off the internet, so I googled that and ended up finding something that has changed the way I shop. I found coupons on EBAY. I never in a million years would have guessed that you could BUY coupons on EBAY, but you can...and lots of them for very cheap. Did you know that cities with higher costs of living get better coupons? I had no idea. So when I see a coupon in our weekly insert for 25 cents off Pillsbury crescent rolls, I can probably find them online for 50 cents off. That doubles to $1 off at Kroger and you can use as many coupons as you like. Their only stipulation? They will only double up to 8 of an identical coupon. So, when they are having a great sale on something I have 20 coupons for, I just break it up into three separate trips to still get the savings (Kroger is very close to my house, so no added gas expense).
I kept a log in 2009 of how much I saved with my Kroger plus card and with my coupons. Are you ready for this? I saved over $7,000 last year and my monthly grocery bill went down to $300 per month.
Now, every Wednesday when the new Kroger circular comes out, I check what's on sale and compare it to my coupons plus what I already have "in stock" and then I make my weekly menu.
I have just recently discovered that through shortcuts.com (partnered with Kroger) you can download coupons to your Kroger Plus card and the guy in the store with the binder told me you can also pair a PAPER coupon with the product and get double the savings. I am going to try this today with the Pillsbury crescent rolls. I have downloaded the coupon and I'm going to try to use my paper coupon as well and I'll let you know if I was able to save both ways.
Wish me luck!!! What are your couponing secrets????