Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Penny Saved

One thing I inherited from my dad is the passion for finding a good deal.  I didn't always think being frugal was a good thing.  My dad always had coupons in a folder he kept in his car.  When we went on vacation, he always had an "Entertainment" book, so our hotels and meals were discounted.  During my middle school / high school years, I found it all horribly embarrassing.  But as I got older and the money was now MY money, I found myself imitating my dad's money saving ways.  At first, it was just for clothes, because let's face it that was the most important thing to a college girl.  Then, I started trying the whole grocery coupon thing.  It didn't go well for me in the beginning.  I never felt like I was really saving any money.  Then after Cameron and I got married, I heard of a website that would match up coupons with the grocery store ad.  It tried again.  It went better that time but vet school took up so much of my time, often I wasn't even the one doing the grocery shopping.  After graduation, we started our "grown-up" life with "grown-up" salaries and "grown-up" bills to go with it.  That's when I learned about the wonderful website/blog called Southern Savers...

It's official - I'm a "couponer."  On Southern Savers, Jenny teaches you how to coupon.  She tells you where to get coupons then matches them up with the sales at different grocery stores & drugstores.  She also follows national daily deals on sites like Groupon & Living Social, as well as deals around the internet.  Yes, it's true that couponing takes time, but it's worth it to me to find an extra hour or two each week to get my coupons together for my weekly grocery shopping trip.  Plus, it has become such a game to me so I don't look at it as a chore.  And yes, I have been so proud of shopping trips before that I have called my dad to brag!  Call me crazy, I know.  But who doesn't like saving money??

Couponing has definitely become a fad these days and I see women in the grocery stores with their big binders of coupons every week.  I'm old school and keep my coupons in a simple accordion folder, and I only take the coupons I plan on using.  If anyone has watched the Extreme Couponing show on TLC, go ahead and forget it.  The show is unrealistic and frankly, I don't care if I bought a year's worth of toothpaste and energy drinks for $3, if I still have to go back to buy food.  But you can still save a ton, especially at drugstores.  CVS is by far my favorite.  I can't tell you how many times I have walked out with several bags of stuff and only spent a few dollars.

I promise I don't plan on turning this into a coupon blog, but I did have a good Target trip today, hence the post.  My goal with grocery shopping is to save 40-50% each trip.  It doesn't always happen, especially when I'm buying a lot of ingredients for all those new recipes I'm trying ;)  When I plan a grocery trip, I sit down with the Southern Savers lists for whatever store I'm planning on going to.  Sometimes I will go to 2 stores in 1 week if there are enough things I want to get.  First, I find things on the list that we will use and are a good price and I have the necessary coupons.  Sometimes we already have the item, but buying before you need things is the key to getting the best price.  Then, I get any coupons that are expiring that week that are either really good coupons or for something we use regularly.  Finally, I add anything we might need - milk, cokes, ingredients for recipes, etc.  Today, I had things from all 3 categories.

Total Before Coupons: 110.67
Total After: 62.64 - I saved 43%

One thing I love about Target is they often have printable coupons for their store brand products, which I had several of today.  In fact the paper towels were Free and I only paid 74 cents for Target brand Robitussin.  But my favorite deal today were the Healthy Choice frozen dinners.  Cameron and I are lucky enough that we both come home for lunch most days so we go through a lot of these, especially since Cameron eats 2.  I had a Target coupon for buy 3 get 1 free, plus 2 manufacturer coupons for $1 of 2.  You stack that with the weekly sale of buy 4 get 1 free, they ended up being 88 cents a piece!  I got all the produce we need for dinners this weekend, as well as tons of cleaning supplies.  Pretty successful trip!

So while it still may not be the coolest thing to do, I'm proud that my dad was able to pass the value of saving money on to me.  Even if you only have a few coupons, I think everyone can still use a few extra dollars!


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