Since my last post, I've been doing quite a bit of reading about coupons, bargain shopping, store policies, and so on. I've also subscribed to several coupon sites and blogs. I've printed off coupons. I've clipped coupons from papers and magazines. I'm loaded electronic coupons to my shopping card. I've collected weekly ads for comparisons and businesses that honor competitors' prices.
But I'm still SO FAR from having the hang of it.
Last night when I couldn't sleep, I compiled my list of stores I at which I planned to shop, along with lists of weekly sales, coupons, etc. Today I organized everything and headed out to get some bargains. This wasn't a grocery shopping trip since I bought groceries the other day. Instead, I wanted to test out my new skills and see what I could get for super cheap or free. I went to seven (yes, seven) stores, which I had mapped out in a circle: K-Mart, Freds, Dollar General, Food Giant, Target, Kroger and Walgreens. With my list in hand, off I went. Everything on my list was something I either currently needed or would need in the near future. Everything I bought was from my list with the exception of a couple of deals I couldn't have anticipated. I didn't pay full price for anything, though there were a couple things I had to have and couldn't wait for a better bargain. As I'm typing this, I'm not sure how much I spent total. Instead I'm going to list everything with notes and then total up my receipts. Hopefully I'll have a number of which I can be proud.
THE LIST (in no certain order)
2 boxes of Hungry Jack pancake mix (1.75 each--not sure if that's saving much but I do know it's less than I normally spend.
Box of unsalted butter sticks
Febreze Set & Refresh ($1 coupon--This is the only "smelly" I'll use in Amelia's room since it doesn't plug in, have to be lit, or overpower the room with scent)
Two 1 liter Dasanis (.79 for both with BOGO coupon--John buys these at work for 1.70 each!)
Similac Concentrate (8.99 minus $5 w/ voucher)
36 large rolls Charmin Ultra Soft - $15.92 (The only TP my husband likes)
16 double rolls Charmin Ultra Soft - $8.99 (I wouldn't have bought this if I'd known there wasn't a limit on the other size. At least these are double rolls)
Honey Nut Cheerios (large)- $2.79 (it was actually .20 cheaper than the smaller box)
1 jar baby food (Amelia got hungry--ha ha)
18-gallon tote with lid ($4.49--could have probably shopped around for a better deal, but I needed it tonight)
Jeans size 3T (won't need them for a long time but they were $1.99!)
Domino sugar, 4 lb ($2 minus .40 coupon)
Tresemme styling mousse (on sale for 3.29 minus $1 coupon)
75-count Clorox wipes ($4 at Dollar General but I had a $1 coupon for Target. Took my DG ad and got them for $3--.69 cents cheaper than the generic brand)
Comet, jumbo can ($1 minus .25 coupon)
Garnier hair conditioner (wasn't on my list but I walked past some on clearance marked from $3.99 to $3 and I had a $1 coupon. I had recently stocked up when I got it on closeout for 1.99, but it's not like it will expire)
2 bottles Suave body wash (if I had saved my $1 coupon for Target instead of using it at DG, I would have saved six cents. Oh well, lesson learned. I still got two bottles for $3.)
Similac Simple Pack Formula and 132-count Pampers sensitive wipes (The formula was 21.00 and the wipes were 5.99, but if I spent $25 on certain baby items, I got $5 off. Plus I had a $5 Similac voucher. So I ended up paying $16.99 for all of it)
Ivory soap, 3 pack (.85)
Jiff PB ($2 on sale)
Palmolive dish wash, 32 ounce ($2 on sale)
OB Tampons, 40-count (6.99--not a great deal but I rarely seem them much cheaper)
Frozen vegetables, 3 bags (for baby food, $1 each, .12 more than Wal-Mart but bigger bags)
Squash, fresh (for baby food, .97/lb)
1 dozen eggs (on sale for $1.65 minus a $1.50 coupon = 15 cent eggs!
Bunch of bananas (just needed these)
Sunny D (.99)
Two Wishbone Italian dressings ($1.50/2 @ 1.59 per bottle, so I basically got one for 9 cents. I use this on chicken dishes all the time)
3 cans Hunts spaghetti sauce and 1 package of spaghetti noodles (Coupon for buy 3 sauces get one pack of pasta. Sauce was $1 each and pasta was $1.69 on sale, so I paid $3 for all of it. I save these big cans of spaghetti sauce for when I need to feed a lot of people cheap!)
3 boxes SOS pads ($5 total--I go through these like CRAZY. Found them at two other stores for $3 each box!)
32-load Era detergent (Not my preferred brand. I wanted the $3.98 All Free and Clear but it had been cleaned out. I'm kicking myself for not just taking the ad with me to Target where they would honor it. The Era is perfume and dye free, though, and was on sale for only $2.98, so it's worth a shot.
Okay, hang with me while I total up these receipts. Here's a pretty picture for you to look at while you wait.
And my grand total is 122.72. Is that good? I mean, I got formula (super expensive) and a crap load of high-end toilet paper, assorted groceries, personal care items, cleaning supplies--even a pair of toddler blue jeans! I feel like I got good deals, but I look at the totals of other "couponers" and feel I still have such a long way to go.
I won't be discouraged, though.
Besides the fact that I shopped at seven different stores and it took three hours, I really didn't run into any problems except at Kroger. I've learned that when you load coupons to your Kroger card, don't trust them when they say, "Oh, it's automatically on there." I had $3.38 of coupons that had not made it from my card to the register. Luckily, I'd printed off my shopping card contents and could show it to them. The woman looked at it and said, "These are all expired." I almost cried and told her I didn't understand how since I just got them. She handed my paper back and began taking off the items I didn't want. I looked at the list and realized that the expiration was MAY 5th, not APRIL 5th. She apologized, re-rang my items and added my coupons manually. I was so flustered that I forgot to give her my $5 Similac voucher, but I was able to take it to Customer Service and exchange it for a $5 bill.
Throughout my adventures, I also got a couple of coupons at the register for things I will buy in the future, as well as a $3 "register rewards" at K-Mart to be used on my next shopping trip.
I'm definitely going to stick with it and keep researching, clipping and keeping track of prices at different stores. I even got a subscription to the Wednesday and Sunday paper since they contain most of the circulars and coupons.
I'll keep you all posted. Thanks SO much for all the advice you've given me here and especially on Facebook. Keep it coming!