As I was writing my grocery shopping list last week, I noticed that although I didn’t have a large variety of items to buy, I still always ended up spending hundreds of dollars in a single shopping trip. The items themselves aren’t cheap to begin with, but when you buy them in the volume that I do, expensive doesn’t even begin to describe the cost.
I listed the items I needed, and then I thought about how many of each item I actually needed to buy: 9 cartons of milk, 8 tubs of yogurt, 8 blocks of cheese, 4 frozen pizzas (hey, everyone needs a break sometimes), 3 loaves of bread, 3 boxes of cereal, 2 cartons of eggs, 4 jars of sauce, and so on, and so on. I know that’s alot to buy, but we live pretty far from the grocery store, so I make one big trip every month and then go to other random stores closer by (that don’t carry most of the things we need) for smaller, less important purchases.
Anyway, since I go to a specific store for specific items and buy specific brands, I thought that should count for something. I emailed Amy’s, a company that makes frozen convenience foods using no genetically modified ingredients, and told them how much we enjoy their frozen pizzas and that we appreciate them not using genetically modified ingredients. They responded by sending me a thank you and a coupon book!
Next, I went to the Stonyfield Farms website and found their coupon page. I printed out coupons for yogurt and milk. Not only that, they also have a rewards page where you can enter codes from the lids of Stonyfield Yogurt for points that can be redeemed for free milk, yogurt, or other items.
At the Horizon Organic website, I printed out coupons for milk and cheese. At the Organic Valley website, I printed out coupons for milk, cheese, eggs, and cream. I was on a roll! I just searched online for the website of specific brands that I buy, and nearly all of them offered coupons.
Then, a friend suggested I try coupons.com. I went to that website, and although I was only looking for coupons for food, I found coupons for diapers and wipes there. Not only that, I also found a coupon for $5 off a Graco brand carseat that I need to buy for my son in the next month or two.
After that, I was hooked on coupons. I thought I’d save at least $25 on my next shopping trip. With coupons in hand, I loaded the groceries onto the checkout counter at my favorite grocery store. Then, I handed over my Martin’s rewards card, a store loyalty card, to receive an even greater discount on certain groceries I purchased there.
I watched the total climb higher and higher as I thought, I’m still gonna spend way more than I thought I would. I saw the total. It was over $300. Then, the cashier scanned my huge pile of coupons one by one. The people behind me, and my three kids, were growing impatient. I silently guessed my savings would be $20. I was wrong. The cashier told me my total, around $273. I was shocked as I blurted out “I just used $40 worth of coupons?!” To which the cashier replied, “And if you’ve got any points on your loyalty card, don’t forget to redeem them for gas in the next two days.”
Gas? Yes, my van was practically on E. The grocery store had a gas station, too, and they gave discounts on gas based on your grocery purchases. I needed gas anyway, so I went to the pump and ran my rewards card under the scanner. To my surprise, I got 50 cents per gallon off of my gasoline purchase! I filled up and saw that my rewards card had saved me another $10.
I went to a different store the next day and used the diaper coupons I had, but I was amazed that I saved $50 in one day by simply using coupons for items I regularly purchase and a rewards card at my favorite grocery store. So I guess the moral of this story is: brand loyalty pays off.
Article by Randi Millward