Grocery Savings Continue to Add Up: My savings highlights for last month

August 5, 2006
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Recently, I began my trial period of the Grocery Game (which was only a $1 to try it out for 4 weeks) and since then I have become coupon crazy.  I love a good deal and I am such a frugal person that something like the Grocery Game is great fun and excitement for me.  Since then, I have started tracking my grocery spending and savings in an excel spread sheet as well as working on an inventory list! GASP!!!  I thought I would never do anything of the sort.  My husband is the spread sheet person!
My goal is to stock my own family store – yes even in a tight space – in an effort to always be prepared as well as to manage our food and supplies in a frugal manner.  I hope to curb the last minute dash to the store to get diapers or toilet paper.  The goal is to have my shelves stocked with these supplies so when the need arises, the need is met instantly and with out paying full price!
In an earlier post, I explained the basics of the game (also look under the couponing category).  But to update you on how it is going, I wanted to give a few highlights and tips.

I almost didn’t start my trial period until I built up my coupons, but because I became so excited about it, I jumped right in without any coupons.  Though you can start this way, you would fair even better if you had a supply of coupons to start out with.  If you do not want to start the trial, you can always save money using store sales combined with coupons…you just have to keep your eyes open and watch for the deals.
Since we are a large family, couponing is slightly different.  Because we have many mouths to feed, our grocery and toiletry budget is large.  I am always working to remain frugal, yet healthy and wise in this area.  We do shop at the major wholesale type stores, yet many times even these stores have certain items that are more expensive than if you would have bought them at a regular store.  However, some things you just are not going to find any cheaper than at Sams or Costco–like organic peanut butter or organic jelly at Costco!  You will have to identify these items and shop accordingly.  For items that I do not purchase at Costco/Sams or locally, like the farmer’s markets, I have been using coupons at regular grocery stores.  To make couponing successful for me, I have to use multiple coupons to meet the need of my size of family.  Instead of buying multiple papers, I have found that the newspaper recycle bin supplies all the coupons a large family could ever want!
So here are some things that I have learned:

The idea of the Grocery Game is brilliant in my opinion.  It is simply taking advantage of store sales and combining those sales with manufacture coupons to equal a rock bottom price on food and products.

Some things to remember about grocery stores:  1.)  Many stores, even expensive stores, run sales each week as loss leaders.  They are willing to take a loss on certain items to get you into the store, knowing that you will buy other products.  2.)  Stores run sale items in cycles and most times many sale products are the same from store to store. 3.) Many store sales are not advertised in the weekly flyer.
Although having a double coupon store is a bonus, you can find great sales even if your store does not double – although I do prefer double coupon stores.  It took me a couple of days to figure out what the coupon policy was for every store (that I was interested in shopping at) in my area.

Here are some examples of my savings:

A grocery store had the pump softsoap hand soap on sale for a $1.00.  It was regularly $1.69.  I had coupons for .35 cents off this soap.  The store coupon policy was double coupons up to .50 cents.  So each of my .35 cent coupons were now worth .70 cents.  I bought the hand soap for .30 cents!   I bought 4 of them because I only had 4 coupons.  Had I 10 coupons, I would have bought more of them and had my stockpile of hand soap full.  My store would have been stocked here at home and the next time I need hand soap to put in the bathroom, I would have gone to my shelf instead.  Because I am monitoring my inventory, I know when I will need to buy more soap and I will have the ability to wait until the next sale to stock up.

Another great deal I came across unexpectedly was clearanced out Infusium hair care products.  The regular price on the shampoo was $6.29.  The store had a 50% off sale basket with several Infusium products.  I had a handful of $3.00 off coupons for any Infusium products which brought the cost down to .15 cents per bottle!  So you can see the benefit to having multiple coupons!

Another thing I stocked up on was laundry detergent.  I had 4 coupons for $1.50 off Wisk 3X Dual Action.  It is a newer detergent that is in a small bottle so it is easy to store, but you use VERY little soap for a full load.  It is extremely concentrated.  The normal price is $5.49.  The sale price was $3.99.  I had a handful of $1.50 off coupons bringing my total to $2.49 for each bottle.  Although it isn’t pennies, it is still over a 50% savings.

Although I have not learned the Art of Couponing at Walgreens and CVS, – this is where most of these extreme grocery savers rack in the free stuff with money back savings and rebates- I did venture in to Walgreens to check it out.  Our total was $23.68 and after I gave her my coupons, which were for free dog food (and we don’t even have a dog yet), my total was $3.68.  It would have been less but I felt bad for them and bought some juice that wasn’t on sale 😉

Another sale I stocked up on was Mott’s Natural Applesauce.  Although I did not have any coupons for this item, I was wishing I did!  The sale was 10 for $10 which is a great deal on the natural applesauce.

Although I do not use a lot of cleaning products, I did stock up on some cleaners this week with an amazing sale and coupon combination.  Fantastic brand cleaners were on sale for buy one get one free (or BOGOF).  The regular price was $3.79.  I had coupons for .75 cents and the store I was at doubles coupons up to .99 cents.  My .75 cents became $1.50.  So since I had two cleaners in the BOGOF deal, I could use two coupons.  It ended up being 2 cleaners for $3.79 minus my $3.00 worth of coupons.  2 bottles for .79 cents and I bought 4 of them.  (was that confusing?)
Now here is a better one:  Shout laundry stain remover bottles were on sale: $2.99, buy one, get one free.  I had .75 cent coupons which the store doubled to make each coupon worth $1.50.  I bought 4 bottles of Shout ($5.98) and the coupon amount ($6.00) that I handed over was greater than the total price of the Shout.  I was +2 cents back on that one and have a years worth of stain remover for better than free!
When couponing with a large family, you will have to be able to collect multiple copies of the coupon inserts to be able to stock up.  Even if you are a smaller family, collecting multiple copies will be beneficial for you in certain products.  Although you many not want 30 jars of apple sauce in your pantry, having 4 bottles of detergent might suit you just fine–especially if they were $2!  Buying multiple items at rock bottom prices will save you money in the long run.  Although I spent  almost $10 on laundry detergent last month that I normally wouldn’t have spent, I will not have to buy laundry detergent for months.

The best part is hearing the total and handing over the coupons!!!!  At one store it was $136.56.  With store sales and coupons I saved $77.81 making my total come down to $58.75.

I expect to start seeing a decrease in my Costco/Sams spending over the next couple of months as I build my stockpiles with these types of deals.  For now, I am not seeing an immediate drop in my overall grocery bill yet, but I am seeing a drastic savings on the things I am able to stockpile.

Stay tuned for next month’s grocery savings highlights.

11 Responses to Grocery Savings Continue to Add Up: My savings highlights for last month

  1. August 7, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    Bethany,

    Just a note to thank you for blogging about the Grocery Game and your savings- I signed up using your referral and now I am hooked! I had tried off and on to get started on couponing, but could never quite see where all the savings came in. Now I understand, and have become a zealous coupon collecter! Last Saturday was my first time to use the List (and my coupons) and it made grocery shopping quite fun and exciting! :-) I can’t wait until next week 😉 I am planning on spreading the word! Thanks again!

    Jennifer

  2. August 7, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    Hi. Found you through Sarah. I must say this sounds very interesting. I would love to be able to do this and save our family money. Thanks for taking the time to journal it all out for the rest of us!

  3. sally
    August 6, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    Ok, so seven kids, moving into a house, planting a vineyard, homeschooling, couponing, and not to mention being a wife…so when do you sleep exactly? 😉
    I’m thinking I need to send you some milano cookies…do you have a closet in that new house for you to escape too? 😉
    Can’t wait to see you, long lost sis-in-law ‘o mine!

  4. sarah
    August 6, 2006 at 12:13 am

    wow

  5. August 5, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    Organizing coupons…

    For now they are organized in different envelopes however, this week that just became impossible because of how many coupons i have.. I am looking into doing a binder system with photo inserts ….

  6. August 5, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Expiration dates… I am aiming for the goal of building a small “store” of which I will pull from. I am working on calculating how much reserve I want to keep in my home. Say I decided to keep 10 jars of pasta sauce. I would rotate my stock so to keep it in date and fresh– storing only what we eat and use. When my jars of pasta sauce become depleated, I would add more jars to the back. For now, my storage is shelves in the garage for non-food items and food items are in the pantry and cabinets–and keep in mind that I do not have a massive stockpile yet! Once we are moved, we will have lots more basement storage and an extra refrig…

    If you do not have the storage spaces…check the message boards for some interesting discussions on where they store their stuff…. also look at some of the stockpile pictures!

    You may decide for your family that you want to have 2 weeks or 3 months or 6 months worth of supplies on hand–

  7. August 5, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    We do not have HEB here.. if HEB doubles you should be able to get some really good deals. Although my free toothpaste and .24 cent toothpaste was at Food Lion and they do not double.

    If you do not like it…you can always cancel your subscription. You will learn a ton off of the message boards–and that is free…

    Because of the type of person I am, I read and studied anything I could read on how to do this on the message boards and asked a bunch of questions. I collected tons of coupons. You have to get your coupons coming in so if you do not have multiple copies of coupon inserts I would highly recommend finding out where your local newspaper recycling bin is. Ours is at the dump in a big dumpster like container—filled with lots of newspapers (not trash..just papers)! Ask neighbors, friends and family for their coupon inserts if they do not coupon.

    I would say that you are not going to drop your bill immediately….they recommend 12 weeks to build your stockpile….for larger families or those on a more restrictive income, it may take longer.

    I am not good at the CVS and Walgreens yet–however after 3 weeks of reading about how these ladies do this…I am understanding a bit more.

    Since I am in my trial–I have several stores that I watch using the list. I will decrease my list to probably two stores because I can not run all over town buying the deals up at each store. For now, I am trying everything out. I have only gone to multiple stores one time and that was on my grocery day out–and it was so much fun!.

  8. sarah walston
    August 5, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    whoah…beth…i signed up for the Grocery Game and am reading through the “game rules” for HEB and I’m TOTALLY EXCITED!!!! All the work is DONE! WOW! I can’t wait to try this!! LOL!!

    I’m ever skeptical of these “too good to be true” deals…but this sounds very well put together and I can’t wait to start. I used your referral code so I hope you end up with some free weeks!

  9. sarah walston
    August 5, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Beth – how are you organizing your coupons? What about expiration dates? How are you storing all this stuff? I have ZERO storage space…I guess I could put some deep shelves up in the garage…maybe that’s what I’ll do. Would be nice to stock up when things are on sale and not have to pay full price – especially for sundry items…i’m intrigued! We don’t have any stores in SA who do coupon multiplying – just HEB’s here, no Albertsons or Randalls. Seriously. Just HEB, a few Handy Dandy’s and then Whole Foods, Walmart and Sun Harvest – and NONE of them do coupon multiplying.

    I need to get into the Walgreens/CVS shopping though – if you can get stuff THAT CHEAP…cool!!

    My only other concern is how much time do you spend shopping here and there for all this stuff? Of course…if you are saving $80 here and $20 there…I guess it’s worth it? We are SOO very busy, I am stressing at the thought of adding this (grocery game) to my responsibilities. Because on the OTHER hand…it IS nice to just go to HEB or Walmart and buy what I want w/o having to worry about the price…. We spend, on average, about $700/month on groceries and sundry items. I’d love to learn how to get that down to $400-500/month.

  10. sarah walston
    August 5, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    my head is spinning…..

  11. August 5, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    for those who have asked…my referral email is ebay at tretower dot com.