April 1, 2014

Are Coupons Worth It?

Sep21

A common question I receive from readers and friends is, “Are coupons really worth the hassle?”

Guess what, 92% of the time…they are not!
Yes, you heard it from the grocery guru’s mouth.

92% of the time, the store is going to make money on you whether you cut a coupon or not.

Your miscellaneous coupons will not skyrocket you to grocery guru status.

But understanding that 92% of all items are priced to make money, while the other 8% of the store items are yours for the picking, will make a phenomenal difference in the way you view shopping.

You see, on any given week, 8% of the store has certain items that are “loss leader” products.

In layman’s terms, these are the rock bottom prices. The store needs to move those products out of the store because the manufacturers have new shipments that are coming to town.

I’ve talked about how sales are cyclical, typically every 10-12 weeks (6-8 in some regions), and at the end of the cycle, stores have a choice -recoup a fraction of their money or lose out completely.
Obviously, they won’t to recoup any amount they can, so they slash those items big time.

It’s that 8% of the store in which I focus, and why I use coupons.

If you understand how to stock up on that 1/12 of the store where the prices are slashed, the grocery guru title will be yours for the taking.
I’m at the point now where I shop my own “store”, excluding produce, and only replenish at the rock bottom prices. If you are just beginning a stockpile, you can be there as well in just three short months.

Continually I share that just because you might have a coupon, doesn’t necessarily make it a good deal. In fact, there were plenty of coupons that I didn’t use this week even though they would have been tripled.

I typically let about 75% of my coupons expire. I wait until the product hits their “loss leader” rock bottom price and then I stack on the double (or triple) coupons.

I know many of you have shared that you don’t have double coupons in your area. Understanding the “loss leader” cycle at your grocery store, mixed with your single coupons, will still net you an incredible savings.
For those of you with triples this week, take advantage of them, there’s no reason you can’t become a grocery guru.

(I’m cracking myself up as I reread this. I sound all mathematically minded and I SO am not. :) But, it is interesting…More details on how this works in my “Grocery Guru” workshop.)

**********************************************
I just got home from my Sunday grocery trip.
Take a guess at what I paid for all of this (and you can’t even see it all because it’s stacked with a bunch hiding behind the yogurts).
One of the many common misconceptions include that couponing is only for processed foods.
Yes, I did get five Grands biscuits, two large boxes of General Mills cereal, three boxes of Chex mix bars, fruit gushers, Chex snack mix, Snyder yummy seasoned nibbles, Welch’s jelly, Fiber One bars, and I admittedly splurged on Toaster Strudles.

But within your guestimate, include in your total – 18 Dannon yogurts, two pounds of grapes, two large bags of marked down fresh stir fry veggies, three bags of flour tortilla and ten boxes of Green Giant frozen veggies….

Any guesses? ELEVEN DOLLARS!!

Yippee, yes, I do get excited at the check out and often do a happy shopping dance (in my head, of course).
Trips like that occur more often than not. I just stopped posting about them all the time because I thought you might get tired of my grocery pictures…hee hee :)

Coming home to this easy family dinner was the best part of my trip.

I pulled out the bagged chicken from this post, tossed it with some soy sauce and steamed the veggies. Serving it over the free rice that I purchased and stocked piled from a previous grocery run, our family of seven feasted on an incredibly healthy, quick dinner that even the skeptics would approve of…for under $3 (with left overs…)

I’ve even gotten my oldest brother excited about this. I left a voice mail tempting him with a cart full of groceries for under $10.

Guess what? I am taking him on a brother/sister date tomorrow to show him how it’s done.
He loves a deal, and I’m even sharing my coupons.
As any true couponer knows…that’s the ultimate sacrifice.


Comments

  1. Wow! Your my hero!

    [Reply]

  2. I would be doing a happy dance too! That's awesome, I estimated about $66 in groceries there. Just the 18 yogurts would've been about $9. I'm impressed….and keep the grocery pictures coming, I enjoy them!

    [Reply]

  3. Whoa… I have a lot to learn. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  4. Carolina Mama says:

    Awesome! You did great! Am glad to see this – the bar is set high – b/c my coupons are clipped and ready for tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder of the 8%!

    [Reply]

  5. Moms in Need of Mercy says:

    Where would you guys suggest finding good coupons if our paper (small) doesn't have good inserts?

    Also, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!! Triple coupons? Great job!!

    [Reply]

  6. Could you please share how to sign up for coupons on line? Or which ones are worth signing up for? I don't want to pay for coupons and then not use them.

    Would love your input on this!

    [Reply]

  7. It's almost overwhelming! I have so much to learn.

    How do you find out if a store triple or double coupons and how do you know when to use it? Do you get your coupons just from the Sunday paper? Can you get Sunday papers on Monday?

    I have so much to learn!lol

    [Reply]

  8. You amaze me!!! I love seeing your grocery deals so please keep posting them. They're inspiring.

    [Reply]

  9. At least you do the happy dance in your head. I do it for real, and I try to get the cashier to do it with me. That does not usually happen, though.

    [Reply]

  10. Hey, you guys might want to check out budgetsavingmom.com This is a friend of mine and she breaks down the deals for the grocery stores and drugstores. She also shows which coupons to use and what your final price should be. I simply print out her post and then look for the coupons to go with the deals. Then I highlight what I want to purchase and take my list and coupons with me to the store. If I have it together like that then I'm only spending a few minutes in each stores. And that's a good thing because I have 3 boys and boys don't like to shop!!

    [Reply]

  11. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    I will be addressing lots of your questions, but please keep them coming. Also, I'll be giving you places to look /other blogs that I have partnered with and that I know about.

    [Reply]

  12. Jen, thanks for the encouragement! I'm one of those who always though coupons not worth the trouble – but I've seen too much evidence otherwise. So I'm starting this week.

    [Reply]

  13. Woohoo!! This week I have been twice, once $139.00 for $40.00 and the next $60.00 for $27.00. Quite proud of myself!! YEAH!!!

    [Reply]

  14. classiclyamber says:

    That is WAY cool! You are awesome! =-D

    But I'm really curious on how to save more money on whole foods or organic foods. We order from a health food co-op sometimes, but a lot of times lately, our groceries are coming from Trader Joe's! I'd love to save more money, though!

    [Reply]

  15. I'm new here and am an avid couponer and penny pincher and I LOVED your post. It was very informative and I agree, if you use those times to stock up you can do quite well.

    I was reading some of your other posts and thinking maybe we need to move south where food is cheaper! :) Unfortunately we live in an area that is consistently higher than what I see posted I think anywhere else.

    Thanks for the informative, fun blog. I look forward to reading more!

    [Reply]

  16. Do you really have a Grocery Guru workshop? If so, where do I sign up. I've been out of work for almost 2 years now…we are barely holding on…I need all the help I can get! Thank you!

    [Reply]

  17. Hoosier Homemade says:

    Great post! I find my boys more and more, saying "do you have a coupon for that Mom, or is it on sale?"
    ~Liz

    [Reply]

  18. How do you know when your store has got certain items at their lowest? I mainly shop Walmart, because that's where everything is the lowest for the items I buy. Walmart meets all the competitor's prices and I use those sale papers weekly. I was saving over $20 with coupons weekly, but now I'm down to around $10 or less. I started realizing that some of the items that I was buying, I usually didn't buy anyway. I was just buying them, because I had a coupon. At first, Walgreens had some great sales on the things that I buy, but for about two months now, they haven't had anything that I needed on sale. I don't shop CVS. I hate that store. I went there three times and they didn't have anything that I was looking for, that they had advertised in their sale paper.

    I have stocked up on a lot of items. We have lots of toothpaste, feminine products, toilet paper, hair dye, deodorant, food, etc. I have a small room, that's about 8×10, that I use for a pantry, along with the pantry in my kitchen. I spend around $70 a week on just groceries and $65 on miscellaneous items.

    I enjoy reading your posts and don't mind the pictures at all. I check your blog daily for new ideas. I especially like the posts on grocery and couponing, but also enjoy the Fashionista posts. Keep them coming!

    [Reply]

  19. Penny, ask for rain checks! CVS will give you a rain check on almost any sale item they're out of stock on (exceptions are quite rare, and clearly noted in the flyer), and they don't expire. You will even get the ECB printed out when you go back and purchase the item with the rain check. (They have to print it separately, though.)

    I don't think Wal-Mart does cyclical sales, though. It really isn't a good couponing store, in general. The priciest grocery stores tend to have the best sales – just don't buy the non-sale items! Wal-Mart is great for stocking up on things that never go on sale, though.

    [Reply]

  20. Care to share your amazing finds with us? How in the world did you buy all of that for $11? I'm working on paring down what we buy & when we buy it… saving money along the way, but it never seems to be that good!

    [Reply]

  21. Jen @ After The Alter says:

    Wow! $11 that is amazing! I don't have any kids and it's only me and my husband so I have trouble with coupons..personally I think that they force you to buy things your don't need, or a higher quantity than you really need…but $11!! I would be happy to spend that and get all of what you got!

    [Reply]

  22. ELEVEN DOLLARS??!!?? Girl, you rock!

    [Reply]

  23. Whoooo hoooo! Celebrating with you! Yes, I also only shop for those things that are on sale, and that I have a coupon for. Sometimes I have to get something for a special recipe, but otherwise, I also stock up so I never have to pay full price. I should have posted about my trip this week… $127 worth for only $21… including $10 that was using my raincheck for $.77lb chicken! I love saving money on groceries and staples!! Blessings!

    [Reply]

  24. The Scooper says:

    Okay, so how do I know when my store(s) is at its loss leader price? I've been faithfully couponing since I saw you at the conference, only using my coupons for things on sale and doubling them whenever possible. I'm also doing the drug store thing with ecb's and register rewards, etc. I'm consistently paying half (or less) than retail on everything and I've got quite a stockpile going already…but I'm still not great at knowing for certain when the deal is truly worth it. No triple coupon places around here but two of my stores double up to 50 cents. You don't need to answer all of these questions at once. I'll stay tuned for more tips as you're able to post. Thanks so much for everything!!! I'm a convert…and my hubby is way impressed with all the savings (and all the food.) : )

    [Reply]

  25. Hi Jen, I would love to hear more about the grocery guru workshop – is it on your website? Hubby's hours have been cut back and I desperately need to save on groceries now more than ever. With 4 boys to feed (plus hubby!) we sure go through a lot of food here! I have no idea what the 8% is.
    Love your site! Thanks & Blessings,

    [Reply]

  26. Kimm at Reinvented says:

    Holy cow, you ARE the grocery guru! I am in serious awe. Did it really only take you 3 months to build a stockpile?

    [Reply]

  27. That is so great! I am still trying to figure out all of the couponing strategies. Very confusing!

    Good for you!

    XOXO
    Jen

    [Reply]

  28. Cynthia @An Accomplished Woman says:

    You are the grocery guru.. I need to break out the coupons more. You are an inspiration.

    [Reply]

  29. New Every Morning says:

    Hey Girlie!!!
    Great post! guess what?!
    I just came home from a "coupon class" given by a friend that reminds me of you. I'm so pumped!
    You are amazing!
    Hugs!!!

    [Reply]

  30. Do you happen to have a list of what you consider to be lowest prices? I would love to have one but am not sure where to start.

    [Reply]

  31. Ashley @ Domestic Fashionista says:

    I have been beginning to see that specifically for me and where I live, that not all couponing is saving me money. I am still learning to look for things at their lowest price…and use a coupon. But because we have quite a few discount type stores, the savings just shopping there is working well. I really need to get working on a price book…I think this will give me a better idea of when and where I need or don't need coupons. thanks for the insight! I would love to see you do your coupon happy dance! lol! ;)

    [Reply]

  32. Angie @ Many Little Blessings says:

    Wow — that is so impressive! I would love to start couponing, but I just don't seem to really get it. I never seem to save very much. Maybe I'll have to try it again but be very intentional.

    [Reply]

  33. Sherri @ Luv a Bargain says:

    I have been couponing for a while now and it is so worth it:) I have such a great time seeing how little I can spend each week. It doesn't take very long start seeing a huge difference. I have lots of coupons and matchups on my blog if it helps anyone.

    [Reply]

  34. bridget {bake at 350} says:

    Wow….I am so impressed! I do use coupons, but have NEVER walked out with that many groceries for $11. My trips typically are $120! Yikes! I need you to do a shop-along with me! :)

    [Reply]

  35. Joy for the Seasons says:

    I love this post and am going to be sharing it with all my friends that are getting on board with grocery savings. I could not say it any better myself! And YOU. GO. GIRL. Awesome savings!

    [Reply]

  36. Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama says:

    And I thought I saved money! You go girl!

    [Reply]

  37. I would love to know how you know the lowest prices a store will have on products. Are these items in a special place of the store? I shop Kroger and Publix.

    [Reply]

  38. Whaaaaaaaat?!?! Seriously-how is that even possible?! I'm speechless….could you post details? What store? Where do you get your coupons? Do tell!! :) And congrats by the way!

    [Reply]

  39. Sandy at God Speaks Today says:

    I do a happy dance if I my weekly grocery bill is below $200. I'm not kidding. Granted, I buy very little processed and a lot of organic. But I do buy the Kroger Private Selection organic, which is usually priced lower than the name brand non organic. We don't have double coupons here, so I use the coupons Kroger sends…which are pretty good. A lot of organic stuff and many times just $ off when you buy a certain amount of produce or meat.

    $11…that's just what I pay for our lunch meat.

    Sandy

    [Reply]

  40. I NEVER tire of seeing your grocery trip goodies. It inspires me to keep on. Thank you so much.

    [Reply]

  41. That’s wonderful that you saved so much! Can you please explain how you know what products are the loss leader? Do you think saving like this is realistic for families that don’t eat a lot of boxed or frozen foods?

    Thanks!

    TJ

    [Reply]

Trackbacks

  1. [...] of the time the answer to that question is no? But WAIT read on  I had read an article at “Balincing Beauty and Bedham” that stated most of the time coupons are not worth it! This was really no surprise to me [...]

Share Your Thoughts

*