athra: ([Firefly] thrilling heroics)
[personal profile] athra
About a year or so ago, my dad was getting ready to retire, worrying about money, and decided to get into couponing to help save himself some money at the grocery store. It took him a few months to really get into the swing of it, but ever since then he's been badgering me to start couponing as well. For a long time I kind of made fun of him, saying that he was going to end up as one of those people with a grocery store in his garage, that sort of thing. More than that, I was saying I didn't want to take the time to do it, that it wouldn't actually save me that much money, that shopping at WalMart, Winn Dixie, and Sam's Club and such was just as cheap as bothering with coupons for the other stores... I shopped the way I think a lot of people do. I would go to the store when we needed something, and pick it up, usually with quite a few impulse buys along the way... if something happened to be on sale, fantastic, but I didn't really pay attention to what would be on sale when.

I think everyone on my friends list knows I've been having job issues for quite some time. When I lost the overnight job around July or so, it was a blessing because that job was making me all kinds of depressed and miserable, and a curse because, well, income. Around the start of December, I finally let me dad talk me into learning what this whole couponing thing was about, since he was still insistent that it would save me more than shopping at lower-cost stores. Well, he was absolutely right. I just want to share my totals from Publix today:

Cost before sale prices: $143.09
Cost with Publix sales, before coupons: $115.61
Cost after coupons: $46.09

Sometimes I feel like I'm a huge dork for couponing, or I worry that I'm being a big pain in the ass to the cashiers, or things like that... and then I look at numbers like my shopping trip today and I realize: who cares. It doesn't completely fix our financial situation, but every little bit helps right now, and that's just a huge amount of money to be saving. It really comes down to paying attention to what's on sale, especially what's buy one get one free, matching coupons to the sales, and hopefully having both a store and a manufacturer coupon. Instead of just going to the store and picking up things I'm out of, I plan ahead my shopping trips and keep the pantry stocked... and I've learned that, teasing my dad aside, there's a huge difference between a grocery store in your garage (which is way too extreme for me) and just keeping a good amount of the things you use on hand, so that you don't run out and have to pay full price. For example, right now I have maybe 10 cans of tomato sauce in our pantry... considering how often James uses it when he's cooking, this is a far from ridiculous amount, but I also know it's enough to get us to the next time I can get it for free.

I am very lucky in that I have a lot of support from my dad, who has done things like getting me two subscriptions to the sunday paper so I have those coupons, and is generally just there and answering almost constant emails with questions from me... but I'm getting to where I have to ask less and less questions, and all the coupons and savings are just starting to make sense. It does take some time and effort, I spend at least 15-20 minutes every day checking blogs and websites and such (but that's just me on the internet, and I'm always on the internet, this time barely feels like anything), and usually 1-2 hours a few times a week to organize what I need for the shopping trip and such, and that time is a lot easier for me to find because I'm unemployed. Even when I do find a job again though, I'll keep doing it.

If you're at all interested IHeartPublix.com is a great site to help out with getting started and then keeping up with everything. (She also runs a site for Kroger: IHeartKroger.com for anyone who lives in areas with Krogers.) She posts the upcoming Publix sales every week, with links or information on any relevant coupons, and she posts super deals throughout the week as she finds them.

I don't know how many people will read all of this, but before I stop rambling I just want to say: this really has made a big difference in my grocery bills, and helped relieved a small bit of financial stress. It took me a long time to be convinced, but maybe it'll take someone else a little less time than it did me :P
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