To Coupon or Not to Coupon

    I’ve spent the last week and a half scouring sale papers and internet sites, logging prices, printing coupons and making lists all in preparation for my new shopping approach. I made it to Target, Kroger, and CVS; sadly, the only Walgreens that I know of in my area isn’t open yet, so no $3.99 Quilted Northern for me :( It was a good three hour shopping trip. I keep a running tally of my purchases to ensure I stay under my grocery budget and A (my daughter, in case you didn’t know) just had to have one of those buggies at Kroger with a car attached to the front, which is like trying to drive a mack truck through Disney Land. Needless to say, it took a while. I had my Walmart receipt from the previous two weeks and decided to compare the prices of some of the items I buy on a regular basis. Here’s what happened:
“sb” stands for Store Brand.
Bold indicates the store that had the lower price.

Item Walmart Kroger Difference
Rotel Tomatoes .88 .92 .04
sb Black Beans .64 .67 .03
sb Tomato Paste .42 .59 .17
Toaster Strudel 1.98-.55 (coupon) 2.69-1.10 (store coupon+manuf.) .16
Orange Danish 1.66-.40 2.39-1.15 (store+manuf.) .02
sb Cream Cheese 1.67 1.72 .05
General Mills Cereal 3.24 2.69-1.05 1.60
Nutrigrain Bars 2.68 3.59 .91
Mini Raisins 1.98 2.49 .51
Fiber One Yogurt 2.00-1.00 2.69-2.00 (store+manuf.) .31
Ground Beef 2.78 5.28 2.50
Tuna Lunch 2 Go 1.72 2.09 .37
TOTAL 19.70 22.51 2.81 more at Kroger

    So, not exactly what I was hoping for. To give Kroger credit, there was a promotion going on that if you bought 10 certain items, you’d get $3.00 off (they were discounted .30 if you met the 10 required items) and I missed it by one item! So some items might’ve ended up the cheaper of the two had I kept better track of what I was buying (did I mention driving the Semi through there?). Still though, for all the work and extra driving that took place, I was hoping for a little more. Kroger isn’t that much further than my Walmart of choice, but it’s further.
    I have to admit that getting caught up in the coupon/sales paper hunting is fun for me. I’m a nerd, what can I say? But at the end of the day was it really all worth it? I did learn that Target actually has some decent prices on their dry good foods, cheaper than Kroger actually. I also learned that some of the sales at the drug stores can be worth it too (did I mention the $3.99 toilet paper?!). CVS also had Goldfish 2/$3 (way better than Kroger).
    So what’s my bottom line? I don’t think I’ll be leaving Walmart any time soon (groan with me everyone!). I think Kroger is worth it on some occasions, like when you have a store coupon uploaded to your Kroger card AND a manufacturers coupon. Or, even better, if Kroger is having a sale on something and you have those two coupons OR if you have a .50 coupon, which Kroger will double. But that’s only about 10 items, right? Is it worth it to me to make multiple trips to multiple places to complete my grocery shopping (what do you do with perishables when you’re hopping from store to store?)–I’m not convinced yet that it is. So, unless there’s a perfect storm of sale+coupons, you’ll probably find me at Walmart.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by CStoll on February 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I was very interested to hear the results of this week’s shopping for you. I’m still learning this couponing thing myself. I’d cut coupons for awhile, but I really wasn’t using them to their best advantage – combining coupons with sales is the key. (Oh, and there is a Walgreens on 1st Street in Huntington. Went there for the first time this week.)

    To really make couponing work, the Grocery Game is a must! http://www.grocerygame.com
    The site does all the leg work for you. If you do enjoy the scouring through the adds and comparing coupons to find deals, don’t use it. I enjoy it because it saves me the work of finding the deals and tells me where to go.

    Also, brand loyalty on some items might need to be put aside depending on what’s on sale. You won’t catch me giving up my Jiff peanut butter, but sometimes I don’t care about the brand for a specific item (like the tomatoes, black beans, tomato paste, raisins, etc… that you listed). Even if I prefer a certain brand, like Bounty paper towels, I’m willing to switch brands if I can get a really good deal.

    This week, Kroger had a HUGE sale on coke (hubby is an avid coke fan), great price on boneless skinless chicken breasts (I bought 4 packs to freeze some), and quite a few deals on stuff we buy regularly. I also went to CVS and Walgreens, where the savings were even better. At both drugstores, I saved more than I spent. I saved over $40 at Walgreens and only spent $22. Plus I have a rain check for some more freebie men’s body wash that was out of stock.

    Oh well, up to you, Girl. But I hope you give it another shot.

    Reply

    • Wow! You did so much better than me lol! I didnt know about the Walgreens on 1st, but I was at the Kroger in B’ville, so mapping out a plan will take time to work out. I just like to get it all done at once, in one day and since I live in a not-so-central area to anything really…we’ll see :) I’m so glad that you did good though! That’s great and so rewarding I’m sure. Did you buy the bottled Coke? We go through Coke Zero like…something serious, so I’m always on the lookout for those 4/$10, $11 deals. I don’t suppose I’ve given up yet, but Walmart isn’t out of the picture for me yet :) The ground beef really hurt my heart; I buy those cheap 93/7 sausage-packed things of it and its so cheap! But then again, the yogurt was .69 at Kroger. Ohhhhhh decisions decisions! Thank you for your update! I was really excited about Walgreens too with that Rembrandt deal–the whole kit for $4.00?! Nuts.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Dixie (mom) on February 16, 2010 at 12:53 am

    When I was a single mother and worked 8 to 5 (6:00 with traffic), it just wasn’t worth it to go from store to store for deals. I had such little time at home anyway. I still find things generally cheaper at Walmart and love one-stop shopping. I’ve never been one for coupons. I feel like I lose my choice that way. They force into you buying what they want you to buy because you have a coupon. Thanks for taking the time for the survey. It’s good info.

    Reply

    • I do love Walmart! And coupons are where its at Mom! You can save .75 to almost $13 (I did once). I only clip the coupons of the products I use though, unless I dont mind. Like toilet paper, paper towels, etc I don’t care what brand it is (ok, maybe I care a little about toilet paper). I will give serious couponing/comparison shopping another try, but with my main grocery shopping being done at Walmart. I will go to Kroger for coupons that can be double or when I have a Kroger coupon+manuf. coupon; I’ll also keep my eyes on Target and the drug stores for low low prices….
      I mean, it was kind of fun :) I just think I’ll do better doing my main shopping at Walmart still.

      Reply

  3. I’m a Walmart girl!

    Reply

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