During my last trip to Kroger, I got $71.79 worth of groceries for $30.98.
25 items—all ones I like and won’t waste—at an average cost of $1.24 each.
I’m the Coupon Queen. It’s a terrifying, exciting spectacle to behold. And I’m here to say that if you shop regularly at Kroger, and you don’t use coupons, you’re being crazy with your money.
(Why Kroger? Given my current city of residence and based on three-plus years of shopping around at each available area retailer, Kroger is my favorite because of selection, location, and they double coupons up to 50 cents.)
Coupons are among the most traditional sales promos in marketing: manufacturer’s coupons for food and non-edibles; “one time only” department store coupons; free DVD player coupon with the purchase of car. Some are worthwhile, and some just serve as silly bait to draw in customers.
Manufacturers use coupons for promotion of an item and may sometimes work with retailers to slightly increase the price of a product. While consumers still save, manufacturers don’t “lose” as much. And retailers don’t lose anything, as far as money. If you’ll notice on your coupons, there’s a note to the retailer with instructions for sending them back to the manufacturer for reimbursement. (It would be interesting to see statistics for retailers doing the work to get their money back. I bet those coupons are transported in armored cars!)
So how did I get my groceries for almost 60 percent off? Here are my rules:
- Seek out coupons: Sunday newspapers, magazines, coupon Web sites, product Web sites (I’ll list my favorite coupon Web sites below)
- Before you go into the store, pull out the coupons you want to use for only the items you need (saves time in the store AND it helps you stick to your list)
- At the same time, take all your coupons inside the store, just in case there’s a fantastic deal on an item you don’t need, but you kind of want to try and you know you’ll use, and it’s so cheap you have to buy it. Just keep separate stacks. But you rarely dip into this second stack.
- Make time for shopping: I spent 1.5 hours buying 25 items. I realize not everyone has the luxury of such browsing, but if you really want to save money, you’re going to have to find the time.
- In order to really save, you have to purchase items that are on sale AND that you have a coupon for. Example: a few weeks ago, a brand of 12-grain bread was 3 loaves/$5. I just needed one at $1.67/loaf. I had a 50-cent coupon, doubled, and I got my loaf of bread for $0.67. Yummy.
For this recent trip, I used manufacturer’s coupons and my Kroger card, of course. In addition, Kroger was having a promotion within their store: mix and match 10 participating items and get $5 off your entire order (50 cents off each of the 10 items). Oh, and don’t forget, coupons up to 50 cents are doubled.
Let’s break my shopping cart down:
*note: even among remembering coupon values, doing math late at night and deciphering my receipt, the margin of error for the figures below still is pretty minimal.
4 – 24 oz bottles of Propel water (2 black cherry, 2 peach mango)
On sale with Kroger card: .99/bottle
Mix and match promo: .49/bottle
Manufacturer’s coupon: -1.00/4 bottles
Final cost: $0.24/bottle
1 box Nabisco Wheat Thins Artisan Crackers (Vermont white cheddar)
On sale with Kroger card: $2.20
Mix and match promo: $1.70
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00/box
Final cost: $0.70
1 bag Farm Rich frozen cheese sticks
On sale with Kroger card: $4.49
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00
Final cost: $3.49
3 bags Valley Fresh Steamers frozen vegetables
On sale with Kroger Card: $1.99/bag
Mix and match promo: $1.49/bag
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00/3 bags
Final cost: $1.16/bag
2 Reach toothbrushes (pink and green, medium bristle)
On sale with Kroger card: $2.49/toothbrush
Manufacturer’s coupon: Buy one get one free
Final cost: $1.25/toothbrush
1 bag Solo plastic cups (30-count)
On sale with Kroger card: $1.99
Mix and match promo: $1.49
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$.75
Final cost: $0.74
2 boxes Orville Redenbacher popcorn (light butter)
On sale with Kroger card: $2.99/box
Mix and match promo: $2.49/box
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00/2 boxes
Final cost: $1.99/box
2 Kraft cheeses (medium cheddar, Colby Jack & Monterey)
On sale with Kroger card: $1.99/package
Mix and match promo: $1.49/package
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00/2 packages
Final cost: $0.99/package
2 Healthy Choice microwavable soups (chicken tortilla)
On sale with Kroger card: 2 for $4
Final cost: $2/bowl
Healthy Choice frozen dinner (chicken alfredo florentine)
On sale with Kroger card: $1.88
Manufacturer’s coupon: buy 2 Healthy Choice soups (above), get 1 frozen dinner free
Final cost: free
1 box Gorton’s grilled tilapia
On sale with Kroger card: $3.79
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$.50 (double: -$.50)
Final cost: $2.79
1 can Hormel white chicken chili
Kroger sale price: $1.34
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00
Final cost: $0.34
2 bags Chex Mix snack (sour cream and onion, honey nut)
On sale with Kroger card: $1.99/bag
Mix and match promo: $1.49/bag
Manufacturer’s coupon:-$.50/2 bags (double: -$.50)
Final cost: $0.99/bag
1 loaf of Rustic Pugliese bakery bread
On sale with Kroger card: 2 for $5
Manufacturer’s coupon: -$1.00/1 loaf
Final cost: $1.50
Obviously this shopping trip wasn’t an absolutely critical one. Also, I didn’t need items like veggies and fruit, for which coupons are rarely available. I purchase groceries every 1.5 to 2 weeks, and on average, I save at least 40% using coupons and my Kroger card. It takes time and dedication. But it’s addictive. And worth it. What am I going to do with the $40 I saved? Do this again in about two weeks!
My favorite coupon Web sites:
1) Cellfire.com: upload coupons to your Kroger card – no paper! Keep note of which coupons you have
2) Coupons.com: choose and print
3) Redplum.com: choose and print
4) Smartsource.com: choose and print
5) pgeverydaysolutions.com: Proctor & Gamble used to allow you to print coupons online, but people like me probably ruined it for everyone. But, you can still go online and preview what will be in the Sunday paper in your area!
6) Kroger.com: you can upload coupons on your Kroger card directly from their site
7) shortcuts.com: upload to Kroger card