My dear husband surprised the kids last night by bringing home a movie from the Redbox. So after I fed them all supper and they started their movie, I slipped out for a little R&R at the grocery store.
Yes, I said Rest and Relaxation at the grocery store. Can I get an “Amen” from you moms who know what I mean? After a long day with the kids, there’s not much that energizes me more than a leisurely browse through the aisles of Kroger, coupons in hand, on the prowl for some DEALS!
Boy, I hit the jackpot last night. I shopped at Kroger and CVS, and as you’ll see below, I brought home a nice little haul.
Now, please don’t judge me for my food choices. 🙂 The photo is for illustration purposes only. I know that I should be buying all organic and natural and I do buy some when I can afford it and when it’s things we will eat (like 1/4 of a grass-fed steer that we bought last fall and all of the garden fruits and veggies that are in our freezer). I also realize that there’s some junk food pictured, but just bear with me (and yes, that’s 9 boxes of popcorn…..who can pass up 49¢ popcorn?). As you couponers know, we don’t necessarily cover all of the food groups in every shopping trip; we stock up on rock-bottom-priced items when they’re available. Then our stockpile contains everything that we need all of the time.
Who wants to guess how much I spent out of my pocket for all of the things pictured???
Nothing! Zilch! Nada!
Think I’m telling falsehoods? I promise I’m not. Let me explain….
I bought the things in this picture from Kroger.
Here’s how I did it. First of all, there’s a Mega Sale going on. This is a frequent occurrence at Kroger. They have a whole bunch of participating products, and when you buy a certain number of those items, you get an amount off of each item. This week, it’s buy 6 items, get $3 off (the receipt shows 50¢ off of each item). Most of the items pictured are part of the Mega Sale, and I had paper coupons off of almost all of them, too.
In a Mega Sale, you need to make sure to buy exact multiples of the required number of items, or you won’t get the sale price for some of them. For instance, this week I bought 30 Mega Sale items (or 5 sets of 6). Sometimes the Mega Sale is buy 5, get $5 off or something like that, so it varies.
Two of the items, the South Beach bars and the Oikos yogurt, were free. Kroger offers a “Free Friday Download” each week. I get an e-mail every Friday morning telling me what the free item is that week, then I simply log into my Kroger account and load the coupon to my loyalty card. The next time I’m in the store, I just have to purchase the item and the e-coupon is deducted when I check out.
Also, I had a $5 off of a $50 purchase coupon loaded onto my Kroger card, hence the two packs of Mounds bars. In order to get my pre-coupon total over $50 so I could use the $5/$50, I had to grab a couple of filler items. So, ahem, I just happened to be walking down the candy aisle, and I just happened to hear the Mounds bars screaming my name. I mean, what’s the fun of a leisurely shopping trip if I can’t get a little treat for myself now and then, right? And I needed them in order to push my total over $50. I know, I know, I’m trying really hard to justify it.
Oh well, so back to how I made it out of Kroger without paying anything out of my pocket. After all of my e-coupons came off and the cashier scanned my stack of paper coupons, my total was $26.06 (according to my receipt, a savings of 74 percent or $70.99). Pretty good, right?
Because I have a Kroger Visa card, I earn points for purchases when I use my card (double points for Kroger store purchases), and once each quarter I receive reward checks made out to Kroger (the amount varies based on the number of points I accumulate each quarter). This quarter I earned $15 in rewards, so I used those toward my total, bringing me to a balance of $11.06. (Of course, we use the Visa only for budgeted purchases and pay it off every month, so we never pay interest.)
Several weeks ago, I received a survey request in the mail from the Kroger Visa company, and the thank you gift for completing the survey (it took about 30 minutes) was a $25 Kroger gift card. I used that gift card to pay the remaining balance of my bill. Not a bad deal at all. If I hadn’t had the reward checks or the gift card and I had paid the $26.06, it still would’ve been a great trip (it would’ve come out to about 70¢ per item that I purchased), but that extra bit of work helped even more.
Oh, and also several of the items that I purchased at Kroger had SavingStar e-coupons, so I’ll be getting back several dollars in the next few weeks in my SavingStar account that I’ll transfer back into my food budget. I discussed SavingStar in a recent post.
Now on to the CVS deals. Here’s what I got:
I did three separate transactions for the items at CVS so I could “roll” my Extra Care Bucks (as I discussed in the Couponing chapter of my book). In the first transaction I purchased the three packs of Angel Soft toilet paper. My subtotal was $15; I used $2.45 in paper coupons and $5 ECBs that I had from a previous shopping trip, bringing me to a balance of $7.55 plus tax, which I paid with a CVS gift card.
I regularly get CVS gift cards with my Discover card “cash back.” I can get a $50 CVS gift card for $45 of cash back, so for our family it’s one of the best uses of the cash back that we accumulate by using our Discover card (which we also use for budgeted purchases and pay off each month).
So, I paid for the Angel Soft and received $5 ECBs back. I then bought the Zegerid. I had a raincheck for it (rainchecks at my CVS never expire), making it $24.99, and I had an $8 coupon. I used the $5 ECBs from the previous transaction, so my total was $11.99 plus tax. I paid with my CVS gift card and received $12 ECBs back because of the raincheck.
Third was the transaction with the three bags of Gevalia coffee (my favorite kind!) and the two packs of M&Ms. I used paper coupons for the coffee and $12 in ECBs from the Zegerid, bringing me to a total of 14¢, which I paid with my gift card. I got back a 75¢ ECB for the M&Ms to use next time.
So there you go. According to my receipts from both stores, I purchased a total of $188.41 in merchandise, and with some fancy footwork I was able to bring it all home without even a tiny dent to our budget.
Some would say that couponing is too much work or it’s too hard to figure out, but for our family it’s a necessity. Thankfully I enjoy the thrill of finding ways to stretch our dollars, but more importantly, as a steward of God’s resources I feel like I’m doing what I can to manage His property well. It took a long time to learn the ins and outs of couponing, and I’m still learning new things as companies change and offer different saving opportunities, but the time and effort has saved our family thousands of dollars. It has allowed us to live well during a lean time in our finances.
“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” (Psalm 128:2)