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Slashing Expenses: Couponing and Pricematching

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Slashing Expenses: Couponing and Pricematching

I am desperately trying to cut our food budget.  I read about all these other people that are spending $50 a week on food or families of 6 spending $100 a week and I wonder how the heck they do it!?! I budget $200 a week on consumables and that feels like a lot.  That includes toiletries, gas and medications (mainly just over the counter) though so perhaps it isn't so bad...

I still want to cut our food consumption down as much as I can though and I've been focusing a lot of energy into it since I've been on mat leave.  I began cutting coupons in the summer.  In the past I haven't seen a lot of value in couponing because many of the coupons I find are for items I wouldn't buy anyways.  I'm not saving money if I buy something I wasn't going to buy in the first place.  This time around I only collect coupons for items I would normally purchase- I just throw out the rest without putting much thought into it.  I may experiment with trading/ 'selling' them on Ebay in the future but for now I am trying to get the couponing down pat before complicating it further.  Currently, my coupons are organized by expiry date but in the future I might play around with a few different organizational methods as I'm not convinced this is the best way just yet.

At the same time, I have been using our local stores' price matching policies to our advantage!  Each Thursday our flyers arrive and I go through the flyers to find the best deals.  I write a very detailed list of all the things I will buy and what flyers they are pricematched from.  I write down the exact details of the item that is on sale so that I do not become confused while I am shopping.  If my list says 'vanilla, 350g' I buy vanilla, 350g. If I also have a coupon for that particular item I star it and write any details of the coupon that I need to be aware of when I am shopping.

I recently purchased the items shown above for exactly $20.  My husband has a lot of sinus issues so Advil Cold & Sinus is a staple in our home and I have frequent headaches/ migraines that I use Tylenol to treat.  I had $4 off manufacturer's coupons for each box of Advil.  I also had a $4 off when you buy 2 coupon for the Tylenol.  The Johnson's baby products were on sale and I had a $2 off and $1 off coupon for them. I use these baby shampoos/washes for my DIY baby wipes.  I don't usually buy baby food but we were going on a trip that particular week and I decided to use premade baby food while we were away. These were on sale but I did not have coupons.  I ended up saving 50% on the total bill by using the coupons plus the amount I saved by purchasing sale items.

The best price-matching/ coupon trip I've had yet was at our local Real Canadian Super Store.  They were running a promotion where if you spent $250, you received a $25 gift card to put towards your next purchase. That same week they were running a very good deal on toilet paper (Charmin basic, 30 double rolls for $10) and had pop on sale (needed some of that for Christmas). I carefully gathered my coupons and made my price matching lists and set out to the store alone on a Sunday evening.  I could hardly fit all of my purchases in the cart- I was not planning to need to shop for several weeks after this trip!! I went to the checkout and the cashier was incredibly nice and patient as I gave her all of my coupons and flyers for price matching.  The computer gave her an error because it had reached its coupon limit and she had to have a manager come over and enter a code a couple of times.  I was just below $250 when she finished ringing me up so I had her add a few packages of toilet paper and pop until I was at the $250 mark.  She was kind enough to apply the $25 off to my bill right away! I went home and excitedly told my husband about how well I'd done but when I went over my bill I realized that several price matched items had been rung through at full price.  I called the store and they told me to come back the next day and have it fixed.  I had only expected to get $15 back but the manager gave me back the full price of each item that was rung in incorrectly!! I ended up getting well over $300 worth of groceries and toiletries for about $150!! I shouldn't have to buy toilet paper again until the end of the year!

I have been very happy with the results of my newly acquired shopping skills so far! The best part is that the more I've done it, the easier it's become and the less effort I've had to put into it.  I fully believe that I will still be able to price match and coupon once I go back to work.  I can't believe how much money I wasted before paying full price for everything!

Some of the links that have been helpful in couponing include:
Mrs. January

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