Thursday, February 9, 2012

Coupon Trip : 87% Savings!

Okay, so this is my first post showing what a basic "coupon shopping trip" looks like.  I have to admit, I am a bit hesitant about writing this.  I know many people have seen the TLC show "Extreme Couponing" and using coupons has become more popular lately.  However, I feel they portray people who use coupons in a very negative light.  In my experiences, many seem to roll their eyes at the idea of using coupons to save money just in general.  So my hesitancy comes from just knowing I am being judged the minute some people see me with my big ol' coupon binder.

What helps me hold my head high is that so many of my friends who I have shared my couponing experiences with have also jumped on the "coupon train".  They say how it has completely changed the way they look at money and going to the grocery store, and how much it has helped their family.  And at the end of the day, this is the only reason I coupon.  It helps my family get to where we want to be financially.  So I want to share these ideas and experiences with you!

One of my first coupon trips where I walked out of the store paying pennies on the dollar, I was so over the moon excited that I came home and took a picture of my free groceries. 

Yup- that's right.  I took a picture of food that was going into my panty.  I know, "Um, a bit ridiculous..." you are thinking.  And you are probably right.  But one "coupon blog" I follow writes these funny posts titled: "You know you are addicted to coupons if..." and one time it read, "if.. you have more pictures of your grocery shopping trips than your children."  

I laughed so hard, because anyone who coupons... takes pictures of their successful trips.  For the first couple months of couponing, I would come tromping in the door, my arms loaded down with grocery bags.  I would yell, "Joe!  Joe!  Oh my gosh.. you won't believe you this!  Look what I got, and I only spent like $10!"  He quickly learned that he had to put on an excited face for me as I paraded around the kitchen pulling my free groceries out like I had won the lottery (He is such a good sport.  Thanks, hun.)  He would later joke, "Wait honey!  Don't show me yet, I gotta go grab my excited coupon face.  And I will be sure to grab your camera while I am at it."  Really and truly though, Joe too has learned that couponing has allowed us to do so many things that we wouldn't have been able to do had we not saved so much money. 

When my friend Marla came couponing with me the first time, her eyes were as big as saucers as we went through the checkout line.

As I paid $.18 (just tax) for a transaction of five bags of pretzels, she turned to me and said, "Oh my gosh, Michala! Is this legal?!"    I laughed and smiled... "Oh just wait, my friend.  When we are done today, you are going to go home and want to take a picture of this and send it to everyone you know."  She laughed... and I am pretty sure she rolled her eyes.

Three hours later- ding!  My phone received a picture message of a counter full of groceries and makeup, and it read, "I only paid $6.83 for all of this!"    I continued to receive picture messages every weekend from her (and a few of my other coupon friends) for a month.  (P.S. I love you Marla!)

So, to many of you who may be rolling your eyes, or laughing at my taking pictures of groceries.  I totally get it.  It is silly and ridiculous.  However,  it is also ridiculously amazing.

Couponing is one reason I get to stay home with my baby girl, and only have to work part-time.  It is how we manage to save hundreds of dollars every month to tuck away in a savings account instead of spending it at the grocery store.  So although I don't take pictures of my shopping trips anymore (I have been couponing on a regular basis for two years now- so the WOW factor has somewhat worn off- but now I will take pictures to show you how to do this!) I still get the "coupon high" when I walk out of the store with my free, or almost free, groceries.

And yes, it is legal :)  

My favorite store to coupon shop at is Albertsons, because they "Double" manufacture coupons up to $1.00.  So for example, a coupon for 1.00 is now worth $2.00.  Not impressed?  Well, the trick is not to use any and every coupon- rather match your coupons to what is on sale.

Say pretzels are on sale for 2 for $4.00 (or essentially, $2.00 ea).  Double your $1.00 off coupon for the pretzels and there you go!  Free!

And here is where getting multiple subscription to a newspaper comes in handy.  I don't get one paper.  I get five :)  So instead of one bag of free pretzels, I get five free bags (and if you know my husband, and his addiction to salt- five bags doesn't last long in my pantry). 

So this was my last coupon trip.  It wasn't anything major- but sometimes that is how the sale week may be.  The trick is to slowly build your stockpile, over the course of sale cycles.  I promise to explain more about what I mean. 

These are the coupons I used for this trip:
(5) $.50/1 Wishbone salad dressing
(1) $.50/3 Rosita Beans
(1) $.75/2 Pace Salsa

Albies was having two promos going last week:
  • Buy ten items, save $5.00 instantly
  • Coupon round up - all coupons would "round up" to be worth $1.00 (no matter what the face value said)
So my coupons were worth $1.00 each, and I saved $5.00 instantly since I bought ten items (5 salad dressings, 3 beans, 2 salsas)
Wishbone salad dressing = FREE after promo and coupons (usually $3.79)
Salsa = $1.49 each after promo and coupons (usually $2.99 - not a screaming deal, but my hubs loves this stuff)
Beans = $.66 each after promo and coupons (usually $1.99 - so $.66 is a good price)

Subtotal: $3.90
Tax:        $.64
Total:      $ 4.54

Saved: $27.00 matching promos and coupons, or a savings of 87%

Now I don't know about you, but anytime I save 87% at the store, I am a pretty happy camper!   

This was a "mini" trip, and honestly nothing too exciting.  But get ready for this weekend!  Albertsons Double coupons are coming in the Sunday paper, and it is shaping up to be pretty much amazing :)


  1. This is so fun to read! I'm fascinated by the show 'Extreme Couponing' but it's obviously just that- extreme. It seems like your couponing is totally doable! I can't wait to read more!

    1. Jenny,
      I am so glad you are here :) Yes, TLC is a bit extreme, but you can do what they do on a smaller scale - ha a bit more realistic!

  2. Michala, this is awesome! I'm excited to hear about all your couponing adventures and I'll look forward to future posts so I can learn more. Is there a secret to knowing when the Sunday papers will have Double Coupons and when the other Albies promos are that you mentioned? Thanks for posting!

    1. Hi Lara!
      Albertson Double Coupons, or "Twice the Value" is really what they are called, almost always come out every other weekend. They don't publicly announce when they will be here, but often times, word will leak out :) Promos- like "Buy Ten Items Save $5" are usually called spotlight savings and those are advertised. This weekend, I will combine a bunch of those promos, with doubles to get lots of free/cheap items :)
      Doublers last Sunday-Tuesday, so I will try to post my trip by Monday so you can see how to go do it on Tuesday! You get three "Twice the Value" coupons per paper, so thats why it is nice to get 5 papers :)

  3. That is awesome that you do that!! I believe in couponing.. I think it works... the hardest part for me is clipping the coupons.I have a friend who helps me once i a while and she's really good at it and has saved lots of money. I've stopped for a little bit bec. I was so discouraged about it, but it's probably time to start doing it again :)