Monday, May 30, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: Third (and final) Trip of the Great 3-Day Couponing Weekend

Final run to the last few sales I wanted to catch, before everything rose back to pre-Memorial Day prices.

First Stop:  PETCO
I worked in pet retail for 3 years, so I know some of the tricks.  The best deal is if you can find a clearance item to stack with a manufacturer's coupon.  And PETCO, with its ever-changing product lines and planograms, always has a ton of clearance.

Tidy Cat 27 lb. Litter:  Reg. $16.99.  PALS sale price $9.99.  Manf. coupon for $1.00 off.  I paid $8.99.

They also had this weird dehydrated dog food that must have bombed, because 13 lb. worth was going for $1.50.  I had to snag that as well.  Total worked out to 4 items and a final bill before discounts applied:  $51.94.  Subtract $7.00 for loyalty card, $17.49 for clearance discounts, and $3.00 for coupons, and I paid $24.45.  Savings$27.49 or 53%.

Second Stop:  Harris Teeter
I normally prefer to shop at Harris Teeter late at night because it's always crowded any other time, but the baby was napping, so I took my time where I got it.  (Though, apparently, he woke up from his nap early and flipped right out on my husband, because he's been a clingy little mama's boy all weekend.)

I ended up not getting the main thing I was going to Harris Teeter for (BOGO dog food) because the price wasn't quite right, but I still managed to grab a couple of things we needed.  The best deal was that they had Lloyd's Barbecue BOGO but, unlike Lowe's Foods the other night, were not out of stock.  I scrapped my raincheck, and grabbed it here instead.

Lloyd's Barbecued Pork (2):  Reg. $8.49.  VIC Sale BOGO.  Manufacturer coupon $1.00 off.  I paid $7.49 for two, or $3.75 each.

Only three items, but I did well, percentage-wise.  Final bill before discounts applied:  $22.21.  Subtract $9.98 for loyalty card and $2.00 for coupons, and I paid $10.23.  Savings$11.98 or 54%.

Third Stop:  Walgreen's
I honestly don't know if I had ever set foot inside a Walgreen's before this, so this was mostly a reconnaisance mission.  First hit against them:  no loyalty card.  Therefore no rewards, no extra special deals, etc.  However, they do have useful store coupons in their circular, on already decent prices, that can be stacked.  So that helps.  I ended up only getting one thing, a small canister of Folger's coffee.  (Though it was only an 11.3 oz. container, it worked out to a better price than the Wal-Mart brand, with the added bonus of NOT tasting like Wal-Mart brand coffee.)

Final bill before discounts applied: $5.36. Subtract $2.50 for store clearance and $.25 for coupons, and I paid $2.45. Savings: $2.91 or 54%.

So, how do I feel about couponing after my long, adventurous shopping weekend?  Well, from a straight fiscal standpoint, I suppose it was a success.  I stuck only to things my family could use, and I definitely saved over what we would usually spend.  I averaged over half-off on my groceries.  (Though I will admit, I was a little disappointed I didn't hit the crazy 97% or whatnot that the people save on TLC's "Extreme Couponing".)  Apart from the sheer financials of it, however, I will admit that it takes a LOT of time and effort.  Just clipping and organizing the coupons can take hours, and it certainly takes a lot longer in the store when you're trying to match and stack on deals, and can only buy certain varieties of certain brands.  (Not to mention all the hassle and inconvenience of visiting multiple stores, instead of one-stop shopping.)

Also, when you show up at a cash register with a huge stack of coupons, one for every item in your cart, the cashier will look at you like you just walked up in her line and ripped a huge fart.

However, being treated like a human fart cloud aside, I do feel that the benefits outweigh the costs.  It's just not for the faint of heart, or for anyone prone to impulse purchases.  ("But I have a coupon for it!")

Good luck, couponers.

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