Grocery Store Coupon Adventure

Woman Clipping from MagazineI already do things regularly to save money or keep expenses down. However, this year, I am going to try new, or haven’t tried for a while, cost saving ideas and methods suggested by you, class participants, money websites, consumer reports, etc. I will report in this blog how they work out. Here goes the first.

I am pretty frugal by nature. Related to grocery shopping, this manifests itself by sticking to my list, buying items only when on sale, shopping around when it makes sense, and avoiding buying things we don’t need.

Truth be told, I have never been great with grocery coupons. I have good intentions: I make an effort to collect coupons along the way, but then I forget them, or, they expire before I am ready to purchase the item, or, I can’t find them…. My husband bought me a coupon organizer in hopes of helping me….nope. My mother cuts out coupons and mails them to me from afar. She then follows up and asks me if I used them…nope.

I always hear about how much money these “extreme couponers” save on groceries, so I thought I should revisit using coupons to see how much I could really save if I made a greater effort. I keep my grocery list on my phone, so, I knew what coupons I needed, and proceeded to look for coupons for things I needed now or in the near future. I visited a bunch of the coupon sites recommended by various publications (coupons.com; couponmom.com; smartsource.com; valpack.com and redplum (save.com), etc.).

During my initial visit to these coupon sites, one that even boasts over 700 coupons, I proceeded to find possibly 5 coupons that I might ever use, and none that applied to my current list of needs. So, I decided to take another approach. I got out my list of grocery items and decided to search for coupons by product.

Several hours of effort later, I had not found one usable, downloadable coupon for a product I use, or would consider using, that did not require me to register for various websites (giving personal information) or require me to “like” their Facebook page. I already have information overload from my real “Friends” on Facebook, but at least their information is often entertaining. I did find a promise of $17 in coupons if I registered on one website, only to find out after registration, I had to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery.

I ended up on this coupon hunt for weeks, returning to the coupon sites regularly, looking on paper, looking on manufacturer and store websites, and putting off purchases in hopes of finding that money saving ticket. After hours and hours of hunting over several weeks, my end result was this: I saved a total of $5.00 in grocery coupons for all of my effort. (Had I gotten to the store on a double or triple coupon day I would have done better). Looking at it another way – I spent hundreds of dollars of my time to save $5.00.

So, it turns out, grocery coupon savings is not going to be high on my list for reducing expenses. Don’t get me wrong, I do find and use great coupons for other purchases– sporting equipment, art supplies, electronics, clothing, and car repairs, etc. (and will share coupon phone apps in an upcoming entry). But, since I am not willing or able to make grocery couponing a full-time job, this method will have to be replaced by other ways to reduce expenses. As I tell my class participants – you have to use money saving methods that fit your lifestyle and money personality.

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