Sunday, January 2, 2011

My first big couponing shopping trip...a huge failure and a huge success all at the same time

How's THAT for an extremely long title.  So, my New Year's resolution is to cut our grocery bill by 60%.  I started couponing a couple of months ago and got it to where I save around 40% a trip, sometimes 50%, but I want it a little higher.  I also want to go on one big trip a month instead of going once a week.  So, I decided to start that today.  It takes a little more planning, and since this was my first time planning this way, it took HOURS.  First, I ran outside in my robe and slippers in the cold to get my Sunday paper and clipped all of the coupons.  Then I went to Dollar General to buy 3 more Sunday papers, but instead of going there, I had to take the paper recycling first since the first coupon clipping extravaGANza filled up our paper basket.  While taking the recycling, I spotted some coupons in the recycle dumpster, so I snagged those, too.  Since I got those, I only bought one extra paper instead of three.  Woot, +1, win, and all of that other slang that means that that rocks.

So, hours of clipping (Eric helped some when my hands hurt), and then I perused the new Meijer ad, noticing that Yoplait was on sale 10 for 5 bucks and that they had a few things 10 for 10 bucks with the 11th free.  Now, I don't normally shop until Thursdays, because my matchup blog, Bargains to Bounty, is in Detroit, and their sales ads are a few days ahead of ours.  Their sales start Sunday, but ours don't start until Thursday.  I find it convenient because that means I can get the matchups on Sunday to begin making Thursday's list.  As it is, it's been a couple of Thursdays since I've shopped because of the holidays, and I got all outta routine and turned around.  I clipped my coupons, alphabetized and organized and placed them in my binder, and then went to BTB to check out the matchups.  What I saw there had me goin all nutso.  There was my Yoplait sale and the 10/10 with the 11th free stuff.  WTF!  So, I checked my Meijer ad, and sho' nuff, it says that sale ends on the 5th (Wednesday), so I made my list, which was massive, since I would like for this to be my ONE shopping trip of the month.  It took a really long time.  Hours, really, to get it all done.  And I haven't even gotten to the level of comparison shopping, yet.  Right now, I shop Meijer exclusively, but as I get better and more organized, I'd like to be able to compare Kroger and also Dollar General, since I didn't even know until today that they accepted coupons.  Not only do they take manufacturer coupons, but they also take internet printables, AND they allow you to stack DG coupons with manuf. coupons.  They also have this crazy policy that if the coupon doesn't say "one coupon per transaction", you can use as many as you want, which is a policy I've not heard anyone allow before.  Like, if you buy a can of soup for a dollar, and you have 2 manuf. coupons for .50 off a can of soup, you can use both and get the soup for free.  Nuts.  Anyway, as soon as DG goes into my rotation, they're SO goin down.  Not that the store will mind.  They make money on manuf. coupons.  The manuf. reimburses them plus 3 pennies a piece for shipping.

I got off track.  So, my list, it was enormous.  More enormouser than any list I've ever made, and I decided that since I was somehow a week behind and confused with my sales for the holidays, I better head to Meijer at 9 p.m. and get this trip done sans children when the store is relatively empty so that I can deal with the Uscan without anyone behind me.  I was all excited.  Too excited, really.  I forgot to put on my coat.  Girlfriend was cold.  Dudes, it is 15 degrees out there.  Anyway, I gotta front row spot, grabbed my 20 reusable bags and my list and my binder and shivered my way on into the quiet, serene, empty Meijer.  I shimmied my way over to my totally free Colgate to find...*GASP*...this is NOT on sale!  This Colgate, it was supposed to be FREE.  It was supposed to be on sale for 1 dollar, and then I have .50 off coupon that will double to 1 dollar, and *poof* free toothpaste!  I have several coupons!  DEAR MEIJER:  GIRLFRIEND WAS STOCKING UP!  HAVE A SALE, YEAH?

So, I got a little frustrated, but I put my not-free toothpaste back on the shelf, removed my Colgate coupons from the "use for this trip" section of the binder and placed them in the "C" (for Colgate, if you don't follow) section.  I moved on to the batteries.  They had one set of these stupid rare A123 sized batteries for freaking TEN DOLLARS left in the damn store.  So, I'm all upset that they cost so much, even though I have a coupon for a dollar off.  They're for the smoke detector that comes with our security system at home. That flippin dick kitchen can't just take a couple of .50 AA's like a normal smoke detector?  Sheesh.  That bubblehead is gonna drive up my average!

Anyway, we need the detector working to sell the house, so I bought the ultra-rare, in mint condition, new in box A123 batteries.  Short, fat, effers.

So I moved on to the yogurt.  YAY! SALE IN FULL EFFECT!  I bought 34 of them.  There were slim pickins.  I hope the kids like mint chocolate grasshopper flavored yogurt.  Kidding, of course, though they did get a lot of lemon *gag*.  Then I moved on to something else that I can't remember in the yogurt aisle that was SUPPOSED to be 10 for 10, and it WASN'T.  I was all flustered.  So, I didn't get that, either, and then I had to mark it off the list, and then subtract the amount of them that I was buying from the total number of 10 for 10s that I was buying and readjust my 10 for 10s because I had exactly 66 items on the 10 for 10 with the 11th free list.  I made sure that my 10 for 10 was in a multiple of 11 to make sure I got 6 items free.  Blah, this knocked me down to 60 items, so I had to remove another 5 items to bump it down to 55.  Hassle, and the beginning of TOTAL ASPIE MELTDOWN 2011.  It's only 2 days in to the year, people!  TAM 2011 didn't take long to get here.

The next two 10 for 10s were fine, but then the next, like 10, weren't.  I felt like I was gonna explode in the store.  Good thing no one else was there.  I was seconds away from sweeping all of the pickles off a bottom shelf and curling up there to rock myself into a tizzy.  HOURS of work, and none if it was worth a damn.  My neat and beautiful list was now full of red pen and stars and WTFs, and I'm in need of an autism intervention.

I decided to intervene myself, and herein lies the huge success of the operation.  That kind of meltdown is not something that I can stop, not easily anyway.  Usually, I just go into the bathroom and let it happen, cry, throw things, shake around and rock on the floor, whatever I need to do to let it out.  This time, though, I made a solid decision.  I had to be a little weird, but hey, the store was empty.  I went over to the Glade candle aisle and just opened a few jars of vanilla candle and stimmed my sense of smell a bit to calm down.  Then I calmly rewrote my list and figured out what happened.  What happened was that a few of the items that are on sale this week were also on sale last week, the yogurt and a few of the 10/10 items.  I saw that in the ad and thought I was missing the sale I needed.  In reality, those items, plus the rest of the big sale that I matched for will start Thursday, just like always.  I wasn't a week behind.  The ad confused me because it had a rolling sale happening for a couple of weeks in a row.  When I go on Thursday, everything on my list will match.  So, I made the decision to not purchase any of the 10/10 items today, even the stuff that was on sale, and just get it all on Thursday.  That way my 66 items are still intact and I won't have to rework that list.  I also will wait until Thursday to get the other sale items that weren't on sale yet, but I decided to enjoy the quiet Meijer at now 10 p.m. and get the yogurt since it was already on sale and those blasted batteries, since they are ultra rare, and I'd have to go to eBay surely if I did not purchase them straight away, and a few other items that weren't going to be on sale Thursday, but we needed them anyway and I had coupons for them that were expiring today.

I cleaned up my little vanilla haven and went on my way with a new plan.  Let me reiterate.  I have NEVER been able to change a plan on a dime like that.  Never.  Especially not with as much work as I put into it.  I am giddy enough about it that I can't sleep.

Anyway, much to my surprise, some of my necessities were on sale THIS week!  I got my toilet paper for less than planned and also my dishwashing soap.  Good times!

As it is, my first transaction was 28 yogurts, and it had a 45% savings.  I could only do 28 of the 34 because I had 5 coupons for it, 3 for .40 off six and 2 for .50 off 8.  Meijer only doubles the first two like coupons, so if I would have done all 34, that last .40 off six would not have doubled.  Plus, I wanted a separate yogurt transaction because Yoplait is a Catalina right now.  If you buy 20 of them, you get a 2 dollar off your next order coupon, and I wanted to use that on the rest of my stuff.  So I used 4 of my yogurt coupons, plus a $1 off my order coupon that I got last month for a Catalina, which brought my savings up pretty well.

Then I rang up the rest of my order, and minus the batteries, which aren't staples, my food/toiletries bill was 32 dollars with a savings of 20 dollars, which is about a 40% savings.  Normal for me.  For that I got 34 Yoplait, 6 double rolls of Angel Soft, 6 bags of lunch meat, dishwashing liquid, 2 gallons of milk, 4 Kraft mac and cheese (no funny shapes), 2 Campbell's Chunky soups and 2 bags of cereal.

On Thursday, I will finish my large trip, and my cost estimate there is 53 dollars, and all of that (the 53 plus the 32 I spent today, so 85 bucks), should last our family of four an entire month.  When I met Eric, his grocery bill was 100 a week, or 400 a month.  I'm taking him from 400 a month to around 100 a month when it comes down to it.  We don't have a large freezer, so I am still going to have to go to the store to get meats and probably one more gallon of milk.  I buy the large bags of chicken when Meijer puts them on sale for 6.99.  I get however many will fit in our tiny freezer at the time.

As it is, that's 75% savings for us since I moved in if I can pull this off!  HOLY CRAP!  This is what happens when I don't have a job!  We'll see what happens when school starts next week.  See if I can keep it up.

Stay tuned! Don't touch that dial!

4 You Said What?:

Eternal Lizdom said...

I am reminded of the hug machine that Temple Grandin used when she needed calming... have you seen that movie? Or know about her? if not- you must!

I can't bring myself to do the couponing thing. Mostly because there are rarely coupons for things we buy. *sigh* I just don't have the patience or time for it, mostly. But I love reading about other people and their great finds!

Gwindylyn said...

congrats on your changing your plan on a dime. That is quite the accomplishment! I do not have the patience to clip coupons and wish I could hire you to do my grocery shopping. That's pretty amazing!

KarrieFaBuLoUs said...

I was totally with you until you said Catalina and I got thrown off. I'd love to know how to work myself out of a meltdown like that, shopping with children probably isn't the best choice for me

Brooke Van Oort said...

You amaze me. First of all, YAY for calming yourself rationally!!! Second of all...TEACH ME HOW TO SAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY. Please. That would ease my anxiety some about this house we are building :)