Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adventures in Couponing!

On a recent grocery shopping trip, my husband and I tried to stick to our list and use coupons whenever possible. (The list was the general, "what do we need/use" list. I haven't quite graduated to full-week menu planning yet.)

This took a bit more planning than usual for our trip. Originally, we were thinking about going grocery shopping on Saturday, since we wouldn't have been to work in the morning. But, he suggested we wait till Sunday, and see what coupons we could use from the paper that day. This meant that we would have to go get a paper on Sunday morning.

So, between laundry, coupon-clipping, and actually enjoying time together, shopping got put off. We are lucky in that we are not about to starve by delaying a shopping trip by a day or two.

We opted to go to the Kroger near us, and set off! Even though we've lived here for close to a year now, between going to different stores and admittedly less than organized shopping trips before, I am still learning the layout of this Kroger, which did lead to some backtracking and scrambling to look for coupons. After doing this a couple of times, I stood off to the side of a main aisle, mouth open and squinting at the directional signs, putting the relevant coupons in order as best I could, saving produce/frozen/dairy for the end. (Yeah, I know this goes against the "shop the perimeter of the store for whole food/cheaper foods" method, but it is what it is).

Having the coupons in this order did make the rest of the trip go more smoothly. A coupon wallet or organizer of some kind would be very helpful in keeping track of the coupons by brand, product type, expiration date, or whatever organizational method you find convenient. I just had an envelope full of the things. I do know that within the last year or so, my mom gave me a coupon wallet, but I can't find it. I blame moving.

We moved through the store slowly, and all told, ended up spending an hour and a half in the store. That doesn't really bother me, but that amount of time in a grocery store is not my husband's idea of time-well-spent. Hopefully, as we get into the swing of this couponing thing (if it should stick), we'll get more efficient, too!

This shopping trip was a fairly routine weekly type of trip, with other things, like soap, medicine and TP, thrown in. In fact, this trip would probably suffice for 1.5-2 weeks, all things considered.

Even if we had a coupon for something, we didn't just blindly grab that item. We still shopped the store. Were we sticklers for that brand? What are the stipulations for that coupon (did we have to buy 2 to get the savings)? Did the coupon make the unit price lower than the store brand or another brand? All of this resulted in more than a few coupons being relegated to my back pocket, possibly to be used at a later date.

In total, we saved about 30% of our total bill (according to the handy little calculations at the bottom of our receipt). It was not all straight coupons. We used our Kroger Plus Card, which yielded by far the bulk of our savings - about three quarters of that 30% was thanks to the store club card. Kroger also doubles manufacturer's coupons, up to $1. So, any coupon that we had an used, that was less than $0.50, got doubled. This is, honestly, something that I forgot to take into consideration as we were shopping.

A few things that were on the list didn't make it into the cart, b/c they were more general, "it'd be nice to have X on hand" and not necessary items.

All in all, I think that it was a successful shopping trip, and a successful foray into the world of couponing. We both have a better idea of what is actually involved, and how we can work to make the coupons work for us.

I see coupons in our future!

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