Saturday, March 08, 2008

It's OK to Call Em Coups

Lately I have been getting into bargain shopping. Those who know me know that when I first get into something new, even something as dull as this, I get giddy and spend a lot of time plotting my next move and celebrating my victories. (Just ask Epu about my AA miles period, when I nearly filled our 750-square-foot apartment with cereal and waffle boxes with miles coupons on them.)

In that spirit, I bring you 16 boxes of free cereal:

This was my haul at Dominick's this morning, a store I normally don't go to just because Jewel is so much closer. But they were having a cereal sale, 5 boxes for $5 of certain brands, $2 a box for others, and you better believe I had coupons.

It actually should have come to $4.50 for the 16 boxes (full price would have been $68.50), but in reality they paid me 50 cents to take them off their hands. I ended up getting the extra $5 off my bill because of a cashier error -- I had a coupon clipped from the paper saying I could get 5 boxes of Life for $5. I think it wouldn't scan properly because you didn't really need the coupon for the deal. But she thought it meant $5 OFF of 5 boxes of cereal, so she manually deducted $5.

I didn't figure that out until I got home, or I would have told her. I'm not out to defraud the Safeway corporation, maker of those lovely O Organics products that will have me going back to Dominick's in the future.

I've been reading this blog, Money Saving Mom, obsessively. The woman (who also publishes a blog called Biblical Womanhood, with links to, among other things, modest swimwear) feeds a family just like mine (except for the biblicality) on $40 a week*.

I can't do that -- partly because of the difference in prices in the Chicago area versus Kansas City where she lives, partly because I am not willing to cut down on our milk consumption like she has -- but she has inspired me to look at my monthly grocery budget. Our budget is definitely tight each month since we went down to one income and bought a home, and with the increasing grocery prices and the high-for-awhile gas prices, well, it's even tighter.

I'm thinking about a weekly grocery budget of $60 to $80 to start with. Maybe $80 including alcoholic beverages. I have a feeling that Biblical womanhood does not include stops at BevMo to stock up on red wine, hard liquor and beer.

Watching what you spend sounds time consuming and boring -- lately I keep asking my mom to save her coupons for me, which makes me feel about 100 years old. But in reality you can make a pretty big difference in household spending with a few changes in habits and a few extra hours a week.

Also remember that money saved is tax free. Another way to look at that: When you pay $3 for a box of cereal, remember that if you are taxed at 30 percent, you actually have to earn $4 to pay for that cereal.

The biggest part of my bargain shopping obsession lately has been shopping at the CVS very near our home. I found out, also from Money Saving Mom, about the instant rebates program they have there and how it can be used to get merchandise for free. I was lucky enough to download a $5 off any $15 purchase for CVS (it's no longer available online but I can email a copy to anyone who wants one), which can be printed and used again and again until the end of March. Because of this coupon and, well, my craziness, I have stopped into CVS with the girls every single day this week.

I won't repeat the mechanics of CVS "shopping" here, because Money Saving Mom explains it perfectly well. For me, this week was the first one when I spent ZERO dollars out of pocket. (I have spent $40 cash this year so far at CVS, most of it on photo prints for Pebbles' birthday party but some of it on the original items I bought that generated the CVS money I've been using ever since.)

Below is the stuff I brought home from CVS this week. The stuff I starred is the stuff I got because we really needed it right now, other stuff I bought because they generated rebates or were on clearance -- but they were still things we could use. I started with $15 in CVS money, and ended up with $8 in CVS money that I can spend in the future.

- 12 double rolls Charmin*
- 2 3-packs Mach 3 disposables ($10 rebate)
- 1 Venus women's nondisposable razor ($5)
- 3 bottles Excedrine ($10)
- 1 deodorant*
- 2 large bottles kids' sunblock (clearance)
- 6 bags Easter candy (gave to parents) + Whoppers, Cadbury egg ($5)
- 1 bottle Neutrogena makeup (clearance)
- 1 lipstick (clearance)
- 8 Duracell size C, 8 AAs ($5)
- 2 fancy-ass toothbrushes ($10)
- disposable cups*
- Trail Mix Crunch cereal
- gallon milk*

Yes, I may be insane. But I really like cereal, heehee. And as Nutmeg just said, as she counted up the cereal boxes on the table, "It's like we live in a cereal store!"

In a good way, though.

* Believe it or not, she even buys organic milk and eggs.


heidi @ ggip said...

Great job! I hope you like those cereals too!

Notta Wallflower said...

I like the CVS commercials. When Jellybean was just born, I cried at their commercials because of their "ordinary miracles" song. What a dork, huh? Anyway, I don't think they have CVS around here - it's either Walgreens or Longs. /sigh

I'll have to take a look at that one mom's blog. I'm all for saving money when I can. :-)

Văn Sát said...

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