Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My First Couponing Grocery Trip

**How many times have you checked today (or yesterday) to see if I posted about my first try at couponing? Just wondering! LOL :P **

It went well. Of course I didn't come out as well as my "hero" coupon-er (read to the end, I have a link) did, but for my first trip I think I did ok. You don't get all your smarts in one day...

I didn't stay in the $25 range. Far from it. But I did score some good deals. Check 'em out:
4 Total, 2 Cheerios, 2 Trix,
2 Lucky Charms, 10 BC Potatoes
3 Pepsi, 1 Dr. Pepper, 3 Cake Mixes, 2 Crest Pro-Health
1 Accu-Check, 2 Olay Ribbons, 3 OJ/Drinks, 6# onions,
2 1/2 doz. eggs, 3 Green Giant Steamers, Wheat Gluten,
Sliced Cheese, 2 Candy (fillers), Shredded Cheese, Lunchmeat

Let me see if I can explain my purchases and deals.
First to explain some "couponing lingo" in case you're not familiar with it (like I was and still am!):
"OOP" means "out of pocket" (meaning the money I handed over)
"ECB" - Extra Care Bucks. "Money" (a coupon) from CVS to use on a future purchase. Sometimes they might be on a certain product, or $x/$xx purchase, etc.
"2/$2" - two items for $2.00
"$2/2" - $2.00 off of 2 items
"$1/$2" - $1.00 off of $2.00 purchase

lunchmeat - $4.99
sliced cheese - $1.39
2 1/2 doz. eggs - $3.45
4 Pepsi products - 4/$11.00 (4/$9 after coupon - $.18/can!!)
10 boxes cereal - $20.00 ($.60/ea after coupon)
10 boxes Betty Crocker potatoes - $14.90 ($.72/ea after coupon)
(2) $1.00 Pepsi coupons = $2.00
(1) $.35 BC Potatoes coupon from Shortcuts (does not double) = $.35
(1) $1.00/3 GM Cereal coupon = $1.00
(1) $2.00/5 GM Cereal register coupon from yesterday = $2.00
(3) $.40 BC Potatoes coupon (DOES double) = $2.40
(2) $5.00 off when you purchase 10 = $10.00
Total OOP: $39.40
Total Savings: $17.75

Food Lion
(2) 3# yellow onions - $5.00 ($3.00 after coupon)
(3) FL cake mixes, $.88/ea - $2.64 ($1.64 after coupon)
FL Shredded Cheese - $2.99 ($1.99 after coupon)
(1) $2/$5 produce coupon
(1) $1/3 FL cake mixes coupon
(1) $1 FL shredded cheese coupon
Total OOP: $6.83
Total Savings: $4.00

Wheat Gluten - $6.55
(2) Bright'n'Early drink, $.68/ea - $1.36
OJ - $1.42
(3) Green Giant Steamers, $1.23/ea - $3.69 ($.23/ea after coupon!!!)
(3) $1.00 GG Steamers coupon = $3.00
Total OOP: $10.36
Total Savings: $3.00

Transaction #1:
(1) Crest Pro-Health - $3.49
used $.75 coupon
Total OOP: $2.91
Total Savings: $.75
Earned $3.49 ECB
Transaction #2:
(1) Crest Pro-Health - $3.49
Filler Candy - $.99
Filler Candy - $1.59
used $.75 coupon
used $3.49 ECB
Total OOP: $1.89
Total Savings: $4.24
Earned $3.49 ECB
Transaction #3:
(2) Oil of Olay Plus Ribbons - 2/$12.00
Accu-Check Aviva Meter - $9.99 (FREE after rebate*)
used (2) $2.00 Oil of Olay coupons = $4.00
used $3.49 ECB
Total OOP: $14.93
Total Savings: $7.49
Earned $5.00 ECB
*Get $9.99 rebate from meter
Total OOP: $19.73
Total Savings: $12.48
Earned $5 ECB

Grand Total OOP: $76.32
Total Savings*: $47.22
*includes coupons, ECB's and rebate

Where does $76.32 fit into my "frugal" budget? I'm not sure yet, but from reading up on other people's experience, I will get better at getting really good deals, and eventually be paying very little OOP. That's my plan, Marvalann! What am I going to do with 10 boxes of cereal, 10 boxes of potatoes, and dude, I am not diabetic, so why the meter? Cereal is food. The deals combined with my coupons this week made it really cheap food. Food is what we humans survive on, so even though I wouldn't "normally" buy cereal, cheap food is cheap food. Potatoes - the same. The meter? It was free. Plus I get a backpack back with my rebate. I'll find something to do with it. I might give it away.

I had to really read up and study the art of couponing in preparation for my dive into the couponing world. HUGE thanks to Andrea at MommySnacks (She's the one I call my "hero" at the beginning - check out her deals this week here, they blow me away. Notice that her savings are double and triple her OOP, unlike mine :( I wanna be like her!), Stephanie at Couponing 101, YouTube clips from The Coupon Mom and Melissa, the ConsumerQueen. The blog posts and videos that these women share are so choc-full of information and "dummy-instructions" for how to coupon - and the deals you can get!! These blogs and video clips were really helpful, so "Thanks, ladies!"

Yesterday... ahh yes, yesterday. I couldn't wait to get out there and try my hand at couponing, so I ventured out with my carefully planned shopping list and coupons in hand. I even had written down exactly what items to get and which coupon to use with it. Kroger was my first stop. I didn't have too much on my list, I figured it would take me maybe an hour. Hmmm.... They were out of the Swiss Miss choc. mix that I was going to get for about $.30/each. Bummer. The cereal - that was confusing!! In the add it said "General Mills select varieties 8 - 12.8oz size". Ok... lemme see here... well, I didn't see any huge blaring signs saying "this is the select variety", so I started going through my coupons, checking the flavors of cereal on the coupon against what was on the shelf, and getting the appropriately sized box of cereal to fit the "select varieties" weight. After about 10 minutes of thinking and scratching my head and going over it about 3 times I finally was certain that I had cereal that fit both the ad and my coupons. Yay. I finished my shopping and went to checkout.

They had TWO regular checkout lanes open - pitiful. They had FOUR self-checkout lanes open. The little lady told me to use one of those, and coupons were ok for self-checkout (I'd done self-checkout once before). So I scan all my goods, then give her the coupons. On the little screen thingy I couldn't see the prices changing as she scanned the coupons over at her station. Then the total popped up, I swiped my debit card, loaded up my groceries and left.... thinking "wow, I must've really goofed on my math at home". I loaded all 10 boxes of cereal into the trunk, got in the car and started looking over my receipt. MAJOR confusion. I didn't see $5 off for buying 10 cereals. The cereals all rang up as $3+... oh my, what is the matter?? I called Daniel and thought out loud for a few minutes, then decided to go back into the store with the salepaper and study the shelf labels a little harder - maybe I missed something. And I had - but they hadn't labeled the shelves very well, either. They were out of ALL the "select varieties" cereals. There was NO WAY I was buying 10 boxes of cereal for $3+ ea, so I very embarrassingly loaded my cereal back into a cart, wheeled it back into the store and returned it. But I had to go get the coupons from the cashier lady first... talk about awkward! I'm not sure the customer service lady liked me too well - she said "I don't even know where to start - how do I know which boxes go with what coupon???!!!!" So I just told her and she did the return. And I got my coupons back!! And I still had the $2 coupon from the register, which I used today :)

Today... As soon as Daniel left, I tore around getting dressed and presentable, wolfed down some breakfast and zoomed off to a different Kroger. I wanted that cereal deal, plus I had errands that NEEDED done today that I didn't get to yesterday. I paid extra careful attention to the shelf labels at this store, and while they were out of the flavors I really wanted to get (guess everybody likes Cinnamon Toast Crunch!), I was able to still dig up 10 boxes. I felt bad for the two ladies that walked down the aisle right after I loaded up my 10 boxes and looked disappointed that the cereal was all gone.

What I learned today:
~Kroger and CVS's 2/$x means you gotta buy 2. Food Lion and Walmart (that I am more familiar with), you can buy 1 for 1/2 of the price. I paid about $2 more than I would have if I'd bought both items.
~Go early in the morning. Kroger opens at 6am. I might just try that next time. I also asked the stocker dude when they were getting more cereal in - he said the truck comes tonight, it would be stocked tomorrow morning. So, now I know that Wednesday morning might be a good time to go.
~Kroger ads are confusing. The whole "buy 10" sale was that for every 10 you buy you get $5 off your purchase. The cereal they charged the sale price, then deducted the $5. For the potatoes, they charged me the regular price and the "$5 off" made them the sale price. A little strange to me, but I think I've already caused enough Kroger stress for the week.

What do you think - is this post long enough to publish a book yet?

Wait - one more "lesson learned" - loyalty cards are VITAL to saving money. If I didn't have my CVS Extra Care card, my Food Lion MVP card, or my Kroger Plus card (and this includes using coupons) I would've spent $180.22.


Heather said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, oh...I am on the way to grocery shopping with coupons for the first time myself. Glad I stumbleded upon your post! :)


Phoebe said... [Reply to comment]

Yay for savings AND cheap food! :)

It will get easier, and your OOP will slowly get smaller. Just takes some practice.

Great score, though! :)

Andrea @ Mommy Snacks said... [Reply to comment]

You did great!!!! I tell ya, that soda will make your total go up all the time!

Isn't saving money so much FUN!!

Miriam said... [Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally said... [Reply to comment]

Uhhh, you lost me there, somewhere in all the 2/$X's and what not and so forth. Man, do you have patience or what! I just can't see myself spending that much time doing my prep and shopping. Learn this well before you have kids, after that you will need to be on automatic mode, or else send your kids to the babysitter while you do the brain-taxing coupon shopping!

Congratulations on the savings.

I too wondered what in the WORLD were you doing with an Accu-check! Did you know that companies will give them out free, because they know you will have to pay gold through the nose to get the test strips in order to use them? That's where they make their money! But, I'm glad you won't have to buy any test strips!

Sally said... [Reply to comment]

P.S. I'm glad you didn't buy any dog food (Cocoa Puffs) or plastic cereal (Fruit Loops). Remember that stuff? You'd rather eat the cardboard box than that cereal!

The Consumer Queen said... [Reply to comment]

Andrea you did awsome!!!! Thanks for the mention. I am so proud of you for taking that step and jumping out ther. I love your comments and posts that you contribute on my site! keep up the good work you will be a Coupon Queen in no time!

ourcountrycottage said... [Reply to comment]


I'm delurking here. I really enjoy reading your blog and I think you did very well for just getting started.

Like someone else said, I'm sure your totals will come down.

Judi Bowman said... [Reply to comment]

Yay for Miriam! It'll get better.

I'm not sure that you're 100% correct about the 2/$x at Kroger. For this week's sale the ad states you must buy the 10 items to get the $5 discount, so for this case it is true. Usually the sale price like a 10 for $10 sale or a 3/$4 at Kroger does not require you to purchase the quantity stated to get the sale price--you've just got to read the fine print in ad to see if there is a quantity requirement.