Lately I've been on this coupon kick. All I hear on the news is how horrible the economy is and no one can afford to even buy groceries and on and on and on. I had to come up with an idea for an article for my News Reporting & Writing class so I decided I would write on the flip side: How we can use coupons and food storage to make the dreadful economy not so "sky is falling" mentality. (Believe me...if I had a bit of Earth, I would plant a garden!)
Since I have been working on this article I figured I needed to familiarize myself more with the concept and how things work. My favorite sites to visit are on my right side column, but just to spot light a few:
Krazy Coupon Lady (Out west, but still very helpful for the national chains)
And for printable coupons on line I use Grocery Smarts. There are not that many coupons on this site, and so far I haven't seen them change much, but before you go to the trouble of signing up for all the other coupon claming Web sites know this...most of them lead you right back to the Grocery Smarts site. They make you fill out a million different questionairs and promise you the chance to win the big bucks, but I would say you will probably just end up wasting your time.
Last week I also received a coupon in the mail for $5 off my purchase of $30 or more at Publix. It expired today so I had to do a little research on line and make sure I could spend $30 on things I needed so I pulled up the Publix weekly ad. It turned out that (my) Publix was having a huge BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sale and they had some really great items on sale. I knew Publix wouldn't just put all the BOGO items in one place, that would be WAY too easy. So I made a list of all the things I wanted to get and figured I would just go through the other aisles to paruse what else I might want.
Look at what I bought:
You can see what I purchased that were part of the BOGO sale because there are two, but the items on the left (yogurt, Dove, peaches, organic sauce) I had printed coupons from Grocery Smarts. I realized when I got home that I should have just left the organic spaghetti sauce coupon there for someone else because I could have just purchased the Ragu that was in the BOGO sale for the same price and well...gotten one free. So that was not smart. In my defense however Publix closes at 10 p.m. and I got there at 9:39 p.m. so I had exactly 21 minutes to get down EVERY aisle. It was not an easy task and I am sure I missed plenty of good BOGO items, but I will do better next time. The items in the center were just items I needed anyway, but I wanted to be truthful when I tell you what I bought and for how much.
Grand Total After Savings/Coupons: $44.44 (that's gotta be good luck)
Total Savings: $37.12
Wow! I was impressed with myself. I know I could do better if I can find coupons for items in the BOGO sale, but I searched high & low and simply could not locate any. Maybe next time.
My point was to add to my food storage, and I think I did just that!
Here is what I call my "rotating food storage" :: as you can see one of the shelves is reserved for the little human items, but that used to be two shelves, so they are slowly & surely getting relocated. I have got to find a bigger place...this one bedroom just isn't going to do anymore. And now that everything is organized nicely, the curtains Mom made me actually cover the shelves again:
In addition to BOGO at Publix I decided I would try out one more store :: Walgreens! I always hear about amazing deals that people find at Walgreens...I just don't get it. I NEVER find anything there that I need and certainly nothing that I can't live without. But today I actually found a few items worth purchasing:
First remember to go to their weekly ad and see what they have first. If they don't have anything you need...no big deal, if they do...great, and if you can find coupons for items that are on sale...you're flying high!
The Sun Light dish detergent was on sale BO (at $1.79) GO with the coupon you can print from the Walgreens weekly ad on line. And you can use the coupon TWICE!
The Jello was also BO (at $1.00) GO with the coupon that you could also use TWICE!
I am a Q-Tips snob. I have tried to use the store brand cotton swab on a stick, but they are more like cotton swab on a straw...so flimsy! So when I saw the coupon for a 375 count pack of Q-Tips for $1.99 I was so excited. And this coupon you can use THRICE! I bought all three...as you can see.
Not pictured was some candy (for a care package) and some coloring books (for my little humans) so I will only tell you the total amount saved:
Total Savings: $8.88 (gotta be good luck!)
I think the Q-Tips alone were worth that...although I do need to check prices the next time I am at Wal*Mart. One thing I kept trying to use my coupons on was body wash, but every time I went to pick it up I kept thinking "...that is certainly less at Wal*Mart..." I did end up buying the body wash from Publix because one of the scents was marked down. I guess everyone thought it didn't smell very nice, but I thought it was fine. It was marked down $0.82 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off, so it worked there, otherwise I would have waited.
All in all I would say it was a successful first go round. I did learn a few things though, that I think are KEY...let me share:
* KEEP INVENTORY AT HOME * (I ended up buying the Sun Light liquid dish soap at Walgreens and didn't remember I had just purchased an ENORMOUS jug at Costco a week or so ago. Does anyone need dish soap?)
* PLAN AHEAD * (I don't really "grocery shop" because it's just me at home, but I still benefit from planning ahead and when I don't I waste money and no one can afford to do that no matter if they sky is falling! Read the weekly ad's - they are all on line.)
* IF YOU'RE NOT SURE JUST ASK * (I didn't know I could use the coupons multiple times at Walgreens, it was an associate that told me. Also, I had a coupon to save $1.00 on 8 yogurts, but then I saw they had a package of 8 yogurts for $3.99. That was already marked down and less when you bought them all together but I wasn't sure if they would take my coupon. My nice cashier Joe hesitated and sort of, kind of asked the lady bagging my groceries. Even she said something to the effect of "yes, of course take it" but he said "yeah, I already decided that". I think they will pretty much do anything to make their customers happy. That coupon made my yogurt $0.37 each and even I know that's a bargain! And this is the most I have ever purchased at one visit to Publix.)
* BUY THINGS YOU WILL EAT * (I knew this already, but just a special note when I was doing my pre-shopping on line I noticed that Hershey 6 pack bars were on the BOGO list so I added them to my list. I have always heard you need that sort of thing in your food storage because when we're in dyer straights that is especially when we will nneed the chocolate. But in addition to that, you never know when you will be asked to put together an impromptu meal and throwing in a candy bar for kicks & giggles is a nice bonus. OR if you need a last minute gift, a KIT KATherine can be turned into a great handout with a spiritual thought! Don't call me Kat, I will have to kill you.)
I am by no means an expert...but my right side column has plenty of those...so check them out. All I know is that all this food storage is going to come in handy when I don't have an income in a few months and am struggling to keep my sky from falling in on me.
And one more bit of wisdom that I learned from one of those wise women on my side column, accepting our coupons does not mean that their retailers loose that money, they get it back from the manufacturers. I didn't really think anything other than that, and maybe you don't either, but when I read the post about it I thought "humm, I guess if you don't know, you might think otherwise" so there's my $0.02 worth.
Special thanks to Tara @ Deal Seeking Mom for helping me with my paper for school. I am super excited to write it...and excited is a hard thing to come by from a senior who can see the light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.
Tara also said - buy the Sunday paper, lots of coupons!
Good luck & happy shopping!