A few days ago our friend, Mr. Fabulous posted his grocery receipt on his blog Pointless Drivel (PG-13--No violence, but he sometimes writes about his nethers, lemurs, his nethers, raspberry jelly and his nethers. Often in the same sentence!).
Another blogging buddy of his had commented that Fab could post a grocery receipt and people would STILL love him and leave comments.
So Fab put it to the test.
The first thought that went through my head was "Olive Loaf? Who in the heck eats Olive Loaf?"
Why not buy some head cheese while you're at it? Or some liver puddin'?
My second thought was, "Dude---you spend wayyyy too much money on groceries!"
So I was feeling snarky and sent him an email entitled, "Ha! My grocery receipts are better than yours!" and included this (click on them to make them larger):
We shared a couple of emails back and forth, and I confessed that these were my personal best---usually it's more between 60-80%.
Fab very graciously asked if he could blog about it if I wasn't going to.
I said, "Sure why not? I never figured people would want to read about groceries!"
Guess I was wrong. From all the nice comments on his blog and the emails I've received, I guess people do want to know how to save a lot on their groceries!
Or would like to, as Mr. Fab would say, "Stick it to the man!"
Well, it's not really like that.
Companies put their offers out there to be used. And if you use them the right way, the savings can be enormous. There's nothing illegal or shady about it. Anybody can do it.
You might say, "I don't want to waste the time clipping coupons!"
First of all, neither do I. I hate wasting time.
It's not a lifestyle choice. I don't reuse bath water, or turn my underwear inside out, or wash Ziplock bags, or practice the myriad of other penny pinching but time-consuming tricks that are out there.
I just found a fairly easy way to save money so our family can spend it on other things. Better things. Like college. Or a great vacation.
If you invest a couple of hours in the very beginning to get organized (and stay organized!), it takes about an hour a week.
That doesn't include time spent actually going to the store, but you were going to do that anyway.
I do it most of it in front of the TV, watching a favorite show.
So what's an hour of time in front of the TV worth to you? $25? $50? What about $100?
Second of all, it isn't just about cutting coupons. It's about coordinating the different offers local stores have to optimize your savings.
Holy cow! I sound like an infomercial!
Because this is a multi-tiered and lengthy process (explanation-wise), I'm going to have to spread it out amongst a number of posts over several days. I think 4 posts might just cover it. So check back over the next week or so.
The last one will cover stuff other than groceries (new name brand or designer items at bargain basement prices--perfect for gifts!).
If you would like to share your own tips and tricks, please send them to me in email, with the url to your blog. I'll post them all with a link to you in the last installment!
So let's get started.
Who will this help?
Mostly families of 4 or more, simply because quantity is involved.
I don't mean quantity as in "buying-10-pound-jars-of-Miracle-Whip-which-will-expire-before-you-can-finish-it-unless-you-eat-bowlfuls-for-supper" kind of quantity. I'll explain in the next post.
If you're single, or a couple without children, you might think about hooking up with a pal or two to do this with.
I have no idea what the set-ups are outside the US, so this might not work in other countries.
Here is what you need:
1. An organizer for your coupons. I don't like the traditional ones, because they only give you one space for each type of product. It's a drag (and a big time waster) to have to shuffle through a handful of cereal coupons to find one for Special K.
Especially if the store is crowded and some lady is bumping your ankles with her cart because she wants you to get your crap and get moving.
I use a photo album. Not the big huge ones, but the ones with 2 windows for pictures per page. I make tabs every few pages labeled "Laundry Detergeant", "Frozen Desserts", etc. Then I put different brands in different windows so I can see everything.
This falls under your initial investment of a couple of hours to get organized.
And people either think I'm an auditor or a professional shopper when I walk in the store with it and get the hell out of my way.
2. A big freezer space. Better yet, a separate freezer. Mine is big enough to hold a body or two (like those belonging to ladies who bump my ankles with their carts).
3. Large pantry storage space.
4. Large bathroom storage space (under the sink will do, or a linen closet).
5. A Sunday paper.
6. A value card for all your local grocery store chains.
7. A Wednesday paper. Yes the whole paper---not just the store sale inserts! I'll close with an anecdote to explain why.
8. A notebook and pen
9. A Paypal account or a credit card, which will be explained in the next installment.
A few months ago, there was a coupon in my Wednesday newspaper for $10.00 off of this extra special Angus beef at a large grocery store. It was in the Lifestyle section where you'll find lots of interesting coupons for local stores that you won't find on Sunday.
It was good for any of their fresh beef products. The only caveat was that you had to buy a minimum of 10 pounds. No "one coupon per customer" rules.
I don't usually shop at that store, because their stuff is a little more expensive on the average, but when I looked at their sale circular, I saw that they were having a 3-day beef sale over the weekend. 50% off selected items. If I bought the "family pack", I suspected, it would be another buck a pound off.
I called my husband and ordered him to beg, borrow or steal 2 more Wednesday papers on his way home.
I bought 30 pounds of Rib Eyes. They were a little over a pound a steak, so there were 24 of them.
I know it's a lot of meat. But with family, entertaining, and the many tail-gating parties hubby goes to before football games, it's a good price in the long run. Since we live in a very dry climate, we're able to age our own beef in our freezer. Wrap 'em up individually in foil, label and date them, then toss 'em in.
Of course, I had to get rid of one of the bodies first. ;-)
Originally the steaks would have cost $9.99 a pound for a total of $299.70. With 50% off, plus the dollar a holler off for the family pack, plus $30 dollars in coupons, I paid $89.70, with a savings of about 70%.
And I didn't even get a chance to sit in front of the TV!
Stay tuned for the next installment!