Couponing

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It is not really even a word. But to me, it is an everyday vocabulary wonder. A way of being.

First, I am not an extreme couponer. I am above all else lazy. I spend about an hour a week making a grocery list. No clipping required. I used to clip coupons. Doing that, I could save up to 70%. But what I do now is easier. Therefore, doable.

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I love to shop. I also love to save. It could be argued that grocery shopping is still “shopping.” I will not fight this. Here, at least, it pays off.

I save at least 50% on my grocery bill every week. Over the last month, my three shopping trips (I skipped the week of Comic Con) have had the following savings: 53%, 55% and 56% respectively. It makes me happy.

You just have to get into the habit and have an open mind.

I have not done a post about this in awhile. Someone told me, my one and only one post about this, before this one, was unbelievably boring (I was so embarrassed, I deleted it). And I probably will not do one again for awhile. But I just wanted to write a post about what works for me at the grocery store. Because this is a part of who I am.:

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1. Price. At the grocery store, I try to never buy anything unless it is at least 50% off. There are exceptions to this rule:

good bread
Milk
Luxury items: such as: specialty sauces.
My kids’ pink lemonade they have to have every week.
Cottage cheese, butter, and sour cream

But I know when I splurge on an above item, I need to save somewhere else to hit my target. It is a balancing act. Just like everything else in life.

I now know exactly what the best price is on an item. So, I know when to buy. If I had $1 for everytime I heard someone say, “it’s just a dollar,” I would have a lot more dollars and/or cereal. It is never just a dollar. All of those “justs” add up. Possibly into a dress. ; )

2. Brands. I am not a brand snob. I have tried them all. Mayo, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, cereal, etc. They are all relatively the same. I grab the best price for whatever I need. And I stock up on sale. Summer is a great time for barbecue sauce. August to September should be good for peanut butter, chips, and cookies (back to school). Winter is the time for baking ingredients and soup.

3. Coupons. I generally do not cut coupons. I grab whatever coupon I see in the store. A few days ago, there was one for two for chips I was all ready buying. So instead of $2 each, my chips became $1.50 each, with the $1 off 2 coupon I grabbed from the shelf.

I use an App called Vons Just 4 U. It has coupons you add to your grocery card. Example: when I went to the store, Raisin Bran was $2 for a box. There was a $1 coupon on the app, making the box $1.

You also earn gas rewards for shopping. The last shopping trip I went on, I earned three gas rewards. Which is equivalent to thirty cents off per gallon of gas I buy.

This is when all of the math you learned in school pays off. Pun intended.

4. Season. Fruit and vegetables have a season. It is cheaper during this time. We buy what is in season, therefore we save money and know we are eating the freshest produce.

5. Clearance. I am not talking about the sad, dinky little cart most stores have in the back. There is never anything good on them. I am talking, look for the red sticker. They are hidden in the aisles.

I got six bags of cheese for free two weeks ago. It was amazing.

My store has a clearance meat section. There are coupons on the meat for 30-50% off that package. If the meat is all ready on sale, this can end up being a great price.

But, my store can be tricky. They will hide the clearance meat with the other meat. Generally, clearance meat expires the day it gets that discount sticker. I use it that day. Or freeze it. I always smell it first.

Last week, I snagged three packages of approximately 1.5 pounds each of 96% ground beef for approximately $3 each.

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6. Stockpile.

Buy more of what you “need” at the cheapest price, so you have them when you really need them.

I know we are going to need chips and cookies for school lunches. I have been stocking up. Yea, that’s why I bought 9 packages of Oreos. School lunches.

There is a term called, “living off your stockpile.” I do this now and again. All you need to pick up for the week is fresh produce, milk, and bread. It is so much fun to eat out of the pantry. And the money saving adventure is fantastic.

I have 25 boxes of cereal in my garage right now. I just bought ten more today (I was running low). I spent approximately $1.50 for each box. My son loves to go to the garage and pick out a new box.

Good times.

Here are some note worthy savings on my recent shopping receipt (the one I saved 56% on):

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If this does not float your boat. No worries! I just wanted to give a few tips, in case anyone was interested!

Happy shopping!

Do you have any grocery tips you want to share?

14 thoughts on “Couponing

  1. This is a great post and something that we do too. Our grocery bills are just a fraction of the weekly average, partly because we never waste food and find ways to recycle food that may go off into soups or stews.

    Also though we don’t buy at any one outlet as nowhere is the cheapest or best at everything, at least not for more than a few weeks. We try and buy all our vegetables and fruit from farmers markets or similar.

    Stockpiling is the name of the game 🙂 A 55lb sack of potatoes for about £7.50 or $11 will last us for months and any other combination of 12lb veg for £5. We too also only get fruit in season, it is cheaper and it is of better quality and it just tastes nice. I don’t really want to eat the same fruit all year round so will have strawberries for example only in June and raspberries in September but neither of them in January even though they are in the stores.

    For supermarkets we buy in bulk, especially for goods that don’t go bad quickly. So a big box of cereals will last one person about 10 days so we might buy 10 of these of the brands we like. Not only do they last forever but having them in stock means you can buy the next batch when they are at a cheap price 🙂 Though my dear wife makes the best soups, I do like canned soups too for the winter and I have been known to buy 40 or so of them if the price is good enough as I know that sooner or later I will eat them and they can last for 2 or 3 years I guess before they go bad.

    Be flexible as to what you want and be ready to change your plans for a good bargain or a discount. We have hardly any brand loyalty as having worked in the industry for several years, I know that most foods are made or processed by the same few suppliers with only the packaging and the location it is sold really being any different.

    In fact we often find that the cheapest food from some of the cheapest stores are healthier and better tasting. This is because they aren’t expensive enough to add the extra fats and sugars found in the so called luxory brands.

    Both my wife and I love going out to our local store at the end of the street and if we are delayed the other instantly know that we were diverted by a bargain or two and then we come home and say “Sweetie, look what I got” and there are 4 frozen chickens or enough melon to last us both a week 🙂

    Just make sure you have space in the freezer or the cupboards for those bargains. Though the winter is cold outside, it does mean that extra food can be bought and stored in the shed or the back garden too!

    • Oh my gosh! Love it!

      I so agree with you about being flexible. That truly is the key, isn’t it? Plus, it makes for the best adventures in life! Spontaneity! It is what keeps us young!

      As for a freezer. I definitely need to get one for the garage. I am always needing extra room. I try to always cram way too much in to my freezer. And then it doesn’t close. And then I end up getting frost on everything. Ugh! Maybe for Christmas!

      Thank you so much for your stories and your ideas. I cannot wait to go back and reread what you wrote. It was all interesting and helpful.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Jenni

    • Hi Amanda! The dress is from Nordstrom Rack. It is a Free People dress. It is a thermal type dress. I would call the color oatmeal. It was marked down from $168 (I believe) to $39.95. I purchased it at a Nordstrom Rack an hour away from my house. They had a ton of them. But the Nordstrom Rack closest to my house had one on the racks last week. So it seems every Rack received some.

      I am also wearing it in this post. So you can see the full dress. http://gnomelover.com/2013/07/17/its-the-little-things-anthropologies-layering-necklaces/

      I hope this helps. Sorry that I do not know what it was called!

      Jenni

  2. This is a great post, and I don’t think it’s very nice for someone to tell you it’s a boring subject. We definitely live off our stockpile! My husband is especially good at finding food bargains; me, I stick to shoes.

    • Thank you Kristina! I think the person meant my post was boring not the subject (and looking back. It kind of was. It definitely rambled. As I tend to do.). But I was scared to do another post on it.

      I love that your husband is the bargain food shopper. I also like your comment about the shoes! That is one of my main reasons I bargain shop so I can have extra money for clothes. Then I do not feel guilty splurging!

      I very much appreciate your comment. I was so worried to do this post! So thank you! Thank you!

      Have a wonderful day!

      Jenni

  3. I don’t think this topic is boring at all. I’m all about saving money, and I’m super frugal. The only problem I see here is that coupons are mainly used for purchasing junk food. I used to use coupons also but then as I grew older, I really started to believe in the fact that “we are what we eat.” I believe strongly that eating healthy can help prevent all sorts of diseases (ie. diabetes, heart diseases, cancers, etc). So I really try to avoid eating foods from a box, carton, jar or can. It’s tough though. I found only one cereal that seems OK. It has alot less sugar than most, and alot of whole grains. It’s called Heritage Flakes by Nature’s Path, and I get it at Trader Joe’s. But we get most of our veggies and fruit from our local farmers market which is expensive. I guess we do save money because we don’t eat out much because I think it’s *really* challenging to eat healthy when you go out. And portion sizes have become ridiculous. And maybe in the long run, we save money because hopefully (knock on wood!) we will avoid some medical bills by staying healthy.

    • Good for you! I admire someone who sticks to their goals and strives for better. I can totally appreciate your lifestyle. Each of us has just this one life and we should definitely eat what we choose.

      You know I have definitely noticed a coupon trend towards just crap. And I do buy a lot of it. I also purchase a bunch of produce and I feel like I balance it okay. There are so many people that just buy a ton of junk and just eat that. But to each their own. I mean I’m the girl who sometimes has a candy bar for my lunch, so I am definitely not the healthiest person out there.

      On the Vons Just 4 U app that I use, I do think they give coupons for healthier items as well. There are a bunch for their organic lines and I think someone striving for a healthy lifestyle could find some coupons on there to save pretty big. They give at least five coupons for produce every week. Definitely not as big as the “empty” foods. But I do admire them for including them.

      Edited to add: They also personalize your deals. So someone buying organic and healthy food would get those coupons added to their downloadable list. Can you tell I like their app? ; )

      I am so with you on Trader Joes. It is a wonderful place to shop.

      Thank you for giving your take on saving money! I really do love to hear everyone’s different views!

      Have a great one!

      Jenni

      • Thanks Jenni for the tip on the Vons coupons for buying some healthier items. I’ll have to check it out.
        Btw, I also have a sweet tooth! I try to satisfy it by just eating very dark chocolate. Scientists have actually found some potential benefits to eating it. You can read about it here…
        http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/sweet-news-about-chocolate
        And of course I occasionally treat myself to other things I love like chocolate chip cookies or a piece of cake!…just not too often.

      • Thanks Sarah! That article was really cool! Who knew chocolate could be so good for you? Of course, I have no calories for it today. But, tomorrow, um, yum, yes tomorrow!

        I hope Vons works for you. It might take awhile. The app tracks what you buy and then adjusts your coupons accordingly. Kind of scary that they know so much about you. But I still love it!

        Have a wonderful day! And thanks for that awesome info!

        Jenni

  4. Oh, I love this post! I am still on a high from getting a deal on Barilla pasta yesterday with a coupon + the store’s sale. I stocked up!

    We are lucky to live within walking distance of a Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, Von’s, Smart and Final, Sunday Farmers Market, a Kosher Market that has great vegetable prices, and even a giant Bed,Bath&Beyond that has super cheap toiletries and make-up. It’s crazy but we go to all of them to get the best deal. It’s like a game. And I like to win this game! lol Plus, I am not wasting gas and getting some exercise. woo hoo

    • Yay! I love it! I always stock up on pasta when I can get a great price on it. I can totally get where you are doming from.

      I love that you can walk to all of those places. Oh my gosh! The deals you must get! : ). I would probably be so jealous! And the fresh flowers at Trader Joes. You must get first pick. (Ha. A pun.).

      Thank you so much for sharing! I LOVE to hear about people’s deals. I am not kidding. I think it is so much fun to save money and I love hearing about other people doing it, too!

      I hope you have a wonderful day!

      Jenni

  5. Sighh I am not a good grocery store shopper at all. I get the brands because I have like magnified senses (at least that’s what ppl tell me) – I can tell the slightest microscopic difference in taste, smell, looks, in everything, which includes food. So I tend to get the brands. I buy fruit outside of season sometimes when my craving overtakes me (esp strawberries!). I never buy clearance meat because I’m so paranoid about bacteria (I never touch meat with my bare hands and clean the kitchen religiously after preparing raw meat). My husband has given up. I am doomed lol.

    • That is okay! I am sure you are great at other things! We all have our gifts. Mine happens to be I can save at the grocery store. Which is not overly exciting, as far as gifts go. ; )

      By the way, I can’t comment on your comment for the necklace. But I just wanted to say, thank you so much for reading my blog! I really appreciate it. I do the same thing with Pioneer Woman and A Beautiful Mess, so I know what you mean. I totally get it!

      Have a wonderful day!

      Jenni

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