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My extreme couponing experiment

I’ve always considered myself to be a bargain shopper.  My love for shopping is strongly outweighed by my love for a good sale. Rarely, and I mean very rarely, will I purchase something at full price. I have always been proud of myself for this… for my ability to wait it out, knowing that it will eventually be marked down.  Oddly enough, the zeal I have for bargain shopping never seemed to filter over into my grocery shopping.  Week after week, I buy full priced items without thinking once about how I could get them for a discount.

Apparently there is a whole sub-culture of extreme coupon shoppers out there. Until recently, I hadn’t paid much attention to coupons and the amount of savings they can bring.  But, in the last few weeks I have seen several posts from facebook friends about how much they have saved “extreme couponing.”  The numbers definitely sparked my interest.

With this in mind, I checked out a couple of great coupon blogs that gave some very in depth advice about working your way through a grocery store one coupon at a time.  The most helpful blogs I have found so far are:

The Krazy Coupon Lady

and

Fabulessly Frugal

After reading through them and getting some basic tips, I figured that couponing is something I could easily implement into my weekly grocery shopping. I do think that couponing would be easier and more beneficial for a larger family; however, it still can be applied to a smaller grocery list. Another important quality is to have very little brand loyalty. It seems to be successful, you must buy what is on sale with coupons that are yet to expire.  You also have to be ok with foregoing the weekly menu and cooking what is on sale.

To get my feet wet, I compiled a bunch of coupons… some printed off of the internet and some I actually clipped from the fliers that come in the newspaper.  The coupon bloggers mentioned tackling one store at a time. Once you have figured out the coupon policy at one store and are comfortable with it, feel free to move on to another.  I decided I would start with Albertsons. It is one of the closest grocery stores to my house and I find myself frequently going there for last minute items.

Once I picked Albertsons as my first target, I got online to see what kind of specials they had running.  Then I compared the specials that were running to the coupons I already had. I made a list of the items I had coupons for that also were on sale at Albertsons.  Armed with my list and the coupons I planned to use neatly stored in an envelope, I headed to the grocery store.

The two products that yielded the biggest savings today were KC Barbeque sauce and Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Barbeque sauce is something where brand really doesn’t matter to me.  It all tastes about the same unless it is homemade, and most of the time, I am pouring the bottles into something I am slow cooking.  It is not something I use as a typical condiment.  Since KC was on sale and I had a coupon for it, my mind was made up.  I purchased two bottles of KC Masterpiece bbq sauce for .44 cents each.  I was impressed.

Blue Bell is something that is near and dear to my heart. I will not buy another brand of ice cream.  Albertsons was running a promotion for Blue Bell for $3.77. In my book, that is already a steal. Usually Blue Bell is priced somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.  And, with just a few quick clicks on the computer, I was able to find a $1 off coupon, putting the total purchase price at $2.77.  You seriously cannot beat that.

Some of the other items I saved on were canned salmon, truvia, and fresh salmon filets.  All in all, with my coupons and shopping the sales at the store, I saved $16.55.  Yes, I still paid $24.05 for my groceries, but I got several other items that were necessary buys that just don’t go on sale.  And there are some items where I’m just not going to buy the cheapest brand (i.e. eggs and meat. I want that stuff organic and living happy little lives prior to their availability in the grocery store).

I don’t see myself taking this to the extreme and being someone who can walk out of the store with a $1 total bill, like the people you see on tv.  I’m not willing to sacrifice cooking what I want when I want it.  But, I do see the merit in couponing. And, in complete honesty, it was kind of exciting walking up to my checkout line with a handful of coupons… Was I going to make someone behind me in line mad? Was the clerk going to tell me “no, you can’t combine those coupons,” when I knew in fact I could? And oh the fun when you see your total rapidly decreasing as each of your coupons is processed.

I plan to keep up the couponing to see how much I can save through the course of the year.  I know I will get better with it at time.  But hopefully I will never be involved in one of those nasty supermarket brawls with another impatient shopper.

Anyone else have any extreme couponing stories to share? Do you think it is worth it?

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