I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how to live more frugally. Most of what I’ve been drawn to are a couple of blogs and the forums on Dave Ramsey’s site (My Total Money Makeover Members only, completely worth the membership fee). It seems from my reading that in order to cut the amount of money spent on groceries, toiletries, etc you have to stockpile and coupon. I have read story after story of people spending almost nothing and getting a ton when they are strategic about these two things.
Most of the individuals I’ve read about are moms of families, so the numbers they are buying for are much greater than little old me. This of course means a larger grocery budget. If there is one thing I’ve learned through making meals for my staff every summer, it’s that things are often cheeper in bulk (i.e. it doesn’t cost that much more to make spaghetti for 19 people than it does for me).
This has given me a bit of skepticism towards the whole thing, not to mention the fact that it seems daunting to track sales and coupons and know exactly the right time to buy toothpaste or deodorant. However, I’ve decided to make this the Year of Frugality. I’m going to see how to make this coupon/stockpile thing work for single people.
Today, I took my first shot at it, and I have to say I’m pretty proud. First of all, all the shopping I did today was at Walgreens. My research has shown that they have one of the most convoluted systems for coupons and rewards, but they had an awesome deal on detergent for the dishwasher. I always wait until last minute to buy it (which is dumb, because that means I always pay more than I should) and I HATE how expensive that stuff is! I mean, I can buy regular dishsoap for a dollar….
Anyway, I decided I was going to go big or go home.
The results are above.
I’m going to walk you through my three separate purchases and at the end share how much I spent, and more importantly, how much I saved.
Trip #1. I purchased one 20 pack box of Finish Dish Gel Packs. They were on sale for $3.49, I had a coupon from today’s paper for $2.25 off, making the total (with tax), 1.24. But it gets better! This purchase resulted in a $1.5o Register Rewards coupon to use on a future Walgreens purchase (but not to buy more Finish, reason #1 WG is so complicated) which basically made this free and then some. Score!
Trip #2. I purchased the following:
- 2 Stouffer’s Easy Express Skillet Meals (i.e. at least 6 different dinner/lunches for me). On sale for $4 each, with two $1 off coupons
- 4 Coffee-Mate Liquid Creamer Buy one/Get One Free at 2.49 each. Additionally, I had three $1 off coupons, all of which I could use because I was purchasing at least three different ones.
- 2 Lean Cuisines on sale for $2.50, had a one dollar off 2 coupon
- 1 Lean Pocket on sale for $2.5o, had a coupon for $0.50 off
- 2 tubes of Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste, Buy one Get one free sale, at 4.29, and I had two coupons- $1 off and $0.75 off (This isn’t that bad of a deal, but I think I could have done better, like if I had two $1 coupons.)
These things combined without coupons and totaled $40.91, minus the coupons and the $1.50 Register Reward I earned with Trip #1 means I spent $15.02. ALSO, the first four bullets earned me a $5 Reward to use on a later purchase. Score!
Trip #3 (That’s right, the fun’s not over yet!) I wanted to get a second box of Finish, and picked up a couple of others.
- 2 bottles of Nivea lotion, buy one/get one half off at 7.79 plus a $5 off two bottles coupon
- 3 packs of my usual Wrigley’s gum, no coupon, just on sale for 3/$2.
- 1 box of Finish Detergent for another $1.24 (3.49-2.25=1.24)
- Comb (you know, for teasing the hair) $1.99, no coupon, but I needed one. Or wanted. You decide.
Total without sales and coupon included was $24.26, with my $5 register rewards from trip #2, and the coupons/sales I paid $4.24. SCORE!
To summarize, I purchased $70.76 worth of products for…… $20.50! That is a 71% savings over regular price. In interest of full discloser, it would be higher savings– I did not calculate the correct tax for the full price number. Therefore, the full price would be higher with the tax. I estimate that it would be closer to 75%.
Not so bad for my first stab at the Walgreens beast.
I won’t need dishwasher detergent, lotion, toothpaste or coffee creamer for a while. This frees me to wait until it hits rock bottom and I have coupons to purchase it again.
Tomorrow I’ll post about how I did this. Trust me, I did not do it alone!