Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triple coupon intervention

Dave and I have sunk to a whole new level of nerdiness.  I've kept it a secret until now.  It started about a year ago when we began subscribing to the Sunday paper and I started clipping coupons.  My motivation at the time was simply to make the subscription pay for itself. Then I heard about triple coupons at Harris Teeter and the sickness started.  Funny enough, that was the Saturday I found out I was pregnant with North.  I kept the pregnancy a secret that last special day of freedom.  That perfect summer evening, Dave and I went to a concert and I enjoyed one last beer without my husband giving me a deserved stink eye. Afterwards, we went to Harris Teeter and triple couponed the night away (as someone that holds an English degree, I have the authority to make verbs out of any word I see fit.)  Looking back, that's the night we officially became adults ...or losers, depending on your perspective and whether you still spend all your free time out in a bar.

Fast forward to now.  North couldn't have been born at a better time,  but it means I have gotten behind on my coupon clipping over the last month or so.  When I heard about the latest Harris Teeter triple coupon event, I knew I had a wonderful stockpile of coupons waiting for me.  First, I quickly poured through my coupon fliers and clipped only the $0.99  and under coupons for the products we will use (Harris Teeter will only triple coupons less than $0.99).  Then I visited Taking Stock by Sue Stock through the News & Observer's website and perused her picks of the best deals and figured out which items we wanted.  (If you like Sue Stock, my friend Michele hooked me up with a weekly e-newsletter called Here's the Deal that compiles information from several like-minded blogs.)  The big trick to increasing your coupon savings is using a coupon on top of a sale the store is already having for that item.  What I love about Sue's list is that she does most of the work for you.  

Because Harris Teeter only allows you to use 20 coupons per visit, I normally plan multiple trips to the store.  So I organize my coupons based on which items are going to disappear the quickest (i.e. the items that are free or close to it) for my first trip, then I sort them based on where they are found in the store.  This preparation took me about an hour today and then I was off to the store!  Each trip to the store took about a half hour.  If you have a husband and son that support your habit the way mine do, it makes for a much faster trip.  Plus, saving money should be a family affair!

The first trip was the more impressive of the two.  Many of the items shown below were either free or insanely cheap.  For $60.21 in groceries, I spent $15.32 which is a 75% savings and got the following items:

The second trip was not quite as disciplined as the first trip I took alone.  My husband spotted a case of beer that was on sale, then I grabbed a large bottle of wine that looked too delicious to pass up, and North begged me to get a carton of organic milk, so that skewed our tally by $20 or so.  But for $88.25 in groceries, we ended up paying $48.05, which is 46% savings.  I hope one day manufacturers of alcohol consider printing coupons for their products to make my triple coupon tallies more brag-worthy.

Today's two trips saved us a total of $85.09 for groceries that should have cost us $148.46.  So we ended up spending only $63.37.  We saved 57 % overall, not too bad for a few hours of work!


Michele said...

you go, girl! :-) I'm a coupon nerd too, as you know, and I try to go through my coupon organizer every few weeks to get rid of expired coupons then organize them be category from $0.99 down, then $1+ coupons so that when triple coupons roll around I am already prepared. Usually I'm a bit behind on my organizing (like now), but you've inspired me to get my butt in gear and get over to Harris Teeter before all the great deals disappear...Noah and Josh try to be helpful on our weekly trips, but a little boy yelling "Mom--MEEEEE" from 4 aisles away with a box of goodies in his hands can be a bit distracting ;-)

Sonya said...

Haha, funny that you should mention taking Noah to the store with you. There was a toddler running around the Harris Teeter during our evening visit to the store. He was running and yelling up and down the aisles and his father was chasing after him. It was hilarious and made me laugh on a whole new level. You'll have to let me know how much you saved after you get to the store. I love hearing about people's savings as much as I enjoy posting my own savings!

Also, let me know what diapers and other baby products you use and I can start saving some coupons for you.

Paula said...

Now, see, that's amazing. Inspiring. And a hell of a lot of work, organization, focus, etc. I love the idea in theory, but in practice, know that ultimately I am too lazy/food fussy to execute. Instead, I will writhe and moan in my den of poverty, eyeing my walls papered with coupons...