Tag Archives: shopping

My Couponing Experiment: Week One

Today was the official “kickoff” of my couponing experiment.  Here’s a look at the receipt from today’s trip (coupons & utilizing the store’s weekly sale ad) compared to last week (pre-couponing):

How much money can you realistically save on groceries using coupons?

Our total bill was $11 higher this week for roughly the same amount of items.  However, according to the store, we saved $30 through our efforts, while last week we only saved a paltry $4 (makes sense because we weren’t trying!)

If we supposedly saved so much money this week, then how come our total cost was greater?  A couple reasons this might have happened:  (1) we had company over for dinner this evening and served salmon with jumbo shrimp– those ingredients alone were almost $40; (2) we got two trays of sushi for $14 (not something we usually do but today was unbelievably busy and we didn’t have time to prepare our own lunch).  Otherwise, our cart was generally the same as always.

Some observations:

  • We were only able to use a few coupons because many of the items we buy are fresh produce and meat — these things don’t have manufacturers’ coupons.
  • The weekly store ad was the best way for us to save on produce and meat by steering towards things that were marked down. (Example: chicken thighs on sale vs. chicken breasts at regular price)
  • Coupons will come in handy for toiletries, kitchen goods, and cleaning supplies (trash bags, toothpaste, etc.) that are only bought on occasion.  I have quite a few stored in my “later” envelope for when it’s time to restock.

saving money grocery shopping by couponing

I feel good about our first week of active couponing and sale shopping.  Because of a couple big-ticket items, our bill appears slightly higher at first glance.  However, we actually saved $26 compared to last week.  I anticipate that our efforts will be reflected in the total cost next time since we don’t have any family meals or special purchases planned.

Check back next week for another update!

My experiment trying couponing to see if coupons can really save our family money on groceries.

My Couponing Experiment

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the lifestyle change our family made which allowed me to be a stay at home mom: meal planning.  The response was overwhelming– so many fellow moms let me know (through my site, BlogHer profile, Pinterest) that our savings inspired them, or offered tips for saving even more.  Over and over I was told: try couponing! 

I’ve never really bothered with couponing– of course I’ve seen the shows with extreme examples of grocery shopping trips that end up being free, but in real life, it seemed like a lot of work for what would likely only amount to a couple bucks savings.  However, hearing that so many of you have had great success with coupons, my curiosity was piqued.  So I decided to do an experiment to find out if couponing really would save us money.

Here are the “rules:”

  1. We would continue to shop at the same stores as before.
  2. We would continue to buy the same products as always.
  3. We would not buy items we do not normally use or need just because they were free or cheap.

Easy enough!

My first step was to go to the website for the grocery store we generally patronize.  I followed a link to the coupon site with whom they are partnered.  The coupons listed were mainly for toiletries, household cleaning items, and packaged foods.  Still, I was able to “clip” quite a few for items we need (or will need before the expiration date next month.)  I divided them into two categories: ones we would use during our next shopping trip, and those that we could use in the near future.  Labeled envelopes will make it easy to keep track:

cutting coupons organizing coupons

Next, I printed the store’s weekly ad.  I went through and circled items we buy frequently that were marked down to a special price.  There were a few that could be combined with coupons I had printed for extra savings.  This particular store offers a lot of buy-one, get-one deals, but most of these are for processed food we don’t eat and therefore won’t be of use.

print weekly ad for grocery savings print weekly ad for grocery savings

The last step will be to go through hubby’s shopping list (which he usually does on Sunday evenings) and note which items have a coupon or are on special in the weekly ad.  Since coupons for next week’s trip will also be ready at hand in the “Now” envelope, hopefully this will be a foolproof system.

Last week’s shopping bill was $200 exactly (plus a few cents), and we didn’t make any unusual purchases.  This will make it easy to see just how much can be saved from doing nothing but buying what we need, to adding coupons to our program.  I’ll stick with the experiment for a month (longer if it is found to be worthwhile!) to be able to note spending and saving patterns.

Stay tuned for next week’s update, and feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions for other places to find coupons or savings– after all, I’m a true couponing rookie!

Stuff I Love: Boxes & Baskets

I have a strange love of boxes and baskets– you might say I have a slight addiction.  I get WAY too excited when Target puts out a fresh crop in the home department or marks down last season’s offerings.

Taming clutter is an ongoing struggle in my house, and I’ve found that one of the easiest things to do is put stuff in boxes.  Pretty boxes.  Well, there’s actually more to it than just tossing crap I can’t find a “home” for in a box.  I’m actually forced to sort and inventory specifically what I want to go in each box, effectively clearing out forgotten and useless items.

wooden chalkboard boxwooden chalkboard box

I found these yesterday at Target– there were two sizes, but only a few left, so there must have been quite a few other people who couldn’t pass them up!  I love that they are made of wood and sturdy, plus the chalkboard on front is both practical and fun.  The one on the left is the large size and fits perfectly on our bookshelf– before there was just a stack of old school work and it drove me crazy!  Lilu actually does look back through her papers, so I’ve been searching for an attractive way to store them within her reach.  The one on the right is smaller and keeps Annabelle’s snacks handy but out of the way.

soft woven basketsoft woven basket

These soft woven baskets are one of my favorite purchases–ever.  I originally just bought one, but loved it so much that I sent Mateo back to Target (hey I was pregnant at the time) to buy the rest.  Alas, when he returned there was only one left.  So I have two.  These baskets are large enough to store a variety of different things, but have a casual lived-in look that is totally my style.  An unanticipated plus is that Annabelle can pull the sides of her toy basket down and easily get out whatever she wants to play with– crawling baby approved!

messy bathroombox organizerbox organizerorganized bathroom

Hubby is not organized– at all.  I guess having toiletries just tossed on the counter doesn’t bother everyone.  This is our guest bathroom however, so I would prefer it to have the appearance of being neat and clean.  I found these small Rubbermaid (yes, the brand) boxes to be an easy, cheap ($6 each) solution.  They have snap-out dividers inside, which in this case was just what I needed to hold hair products, toothpaste, etc.  Hopefully hubby can handle actually putting his stuff inside the box. 🙂

kids room organizationkids room organizationkids room organization

Keeping the kids’ rooms tidy can be one of the biggest challenges of all!  I found these bins at Ikea, so they were super cheap.  There are rollers on the bottom, so they are easy to move and for kids to access.  They can even stack if space is tight.  Lilu is like me in that she craves order, but as a six year old she needs a little help to get it done.  It makes her so happy to know where her art supplies are without having to look and she is surprisingly consistent with putting things back when she is finished using them.

kitchen organizationkitchen organization

The bane of my existence is kitchen clutter.  I’ve (somewhat) accepted that there is always going to be stuff out on the counter, but I still try to keep the junk from taking over.  I found a large tray to be the “intake” box: new mail, magazines, things that still need opened or to which I need quick access go here.  I also bought a larger Rubbermaid box to corral all of the various bottles that we use on a daily basis: vitamins, ibuprofen, and the like.  A plastic basket (I believe it once contained a gift assortment) displays hand towels (one of my mom’s addictions– I get the overstock so she can justify buying new ones) so they are within arms reach while cooking.  A vintage metal Coca-Cola six-pack bottle holder is now a pen caddy.  A Le Creuset bowl in a cheerful shade of aqua keeps keys, coins, and other random small bits from being scattered across the counter.  It’s getting better, but the kitchen will always be a work in progress!

What is your favorite household storage/organization solution?