Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: First Trip

I decided to try to go small after my first experimental couponing trip to Harris Teeter (where I got $50 worth of groceries for $20).  So I made a list of just a few things I wanted to go at each store, organized my coupons into envelopes (stacking manufacturer and store, where I had both), made a shopping list, grabbed some circulars, and hit the road.

For a beginner couponer, I am very pleased with the results.  See for yourself.

First Stop:  Food Lion
The first thing I realized when I hit Food Lion is how badly I need one of those organizer binders for my coupons.  I know I could probably save a lot of time flipping through my envelopes if I had one of those.  (I also have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, hint, hint.)

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by the MVP deals and coupons I got from Food Lion.  I didn't use all of my store coupons (mainly because Huggies diapers suck and, though I have no idea what a "feminine sanitary cup" is, it sounds disgusting).

But I did find some very good deals when I stacked manufacturer and store coupons, or just great MVP (Food Lion's loyalty card) prices.  Here's how the best deals broke down:

Ronzoni Pasta Side:  Reg. $1.89.  MVP sale price $1.00.  Manf. coupon $.50 off.  I paid $.50.
Ritz Crackers (2):  Reg. $3.99 each.  MVP sale BOGO.  Manf. coupon for $1 off each.  I paid $2.00 for two boxes.
Country Crock Spread (2):  Reg $2.99 each.  MVP sale BOGO.  Manf. coupon $.50 off each.  I paid $2.00 total for both.

I also got some good savings on diapers, wipes, and other necessities, adding up to 9 items total.  Final bill before discounts applied:  $43.66.  Subtract $8.39 for my loyalty card and $17.39 from coupons, and I paid $17.88.  Savings$25.78 or 59%.

Second Stop:  Rite Aid
Super-friendly employees and clean, well-organized store.  Love it.  Also, the Rite Aid loyalty card (Wellness Card) works like a rewards card, in addition to getting you sale prices.  So you can apply additional savings to future purchases.

Here are some of the best deals I got:

Suave Body Wash (2):  Reg. $2.79 each for 12 oz.  Had 50% bonus packages with 18 oz.  Wellness sale price $2.50.  Manf. coupon for BOGO.  I paid $2.50 for two.
L'Oreal Feria Hair Color (my favorite brand):  $9.99 each.  Wellness sale price $7.99.  Manf. coupon for $3.00 off.  I paid $4.99.

Deodorant and other essentials were on the list, for 10 items total.  Final bill before discounts applied:  $24.12.  Subtract $2.58 for loyalty card and $10.25 for coupons, and I paid $11.29.  Savings$12.83 or 53%.  (AND I got a coupon for $3 off my next purchase!)

Third Stop:  Family Dollar
Well, two out of three ain't bad.  At first I was really excited about my trip to Family Dollar because they provide a TON of store coupons, so I had lots of things to match and stack savings on.

When I went inside, I found out why...The prices were ridiculous!  Even stacked with the store coupons, I realized I'd get better prices saving my manufacturer coupons for a cheaper store.  Also, the place was a mess.  It was cluttered and incredibly disorganized.  Not that the items weren't all perfectly faced and fronted, it was that the store layout was that terrible.  I couldn't even find the storebrand items that were featured in the circular.  Who doesn't have their circular items front and center?  Maybe I'm just a little pickier than most because I used to manage a retail store, but they definitely were NOT maximizing their sales and profit.

I ended up getting only one item, and it was easily my worst trip.

9Lives Cat Food:  Reg. price $4.99.  On sale for $3.99.  Manf. coupon for $1 off.  I paid $2.99.

Final bill before discounts applied:  $5.04.  Factor in sale price and subtract $1.00 for coupon, and I paid $3.04.  Savings$2.00 or 40%.

So, for my grand morning of shopping, all told I purchased $72.82 worth of groceries for $32.21, for a savings of $40.61, or 56%.

Oh yeah...this couponing thing is definitely addictive.

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