A while back, I said I’d try to track how much was saved in the month of July due to my couponing efforts to try to answer the question I always get: Is it really “worth it”?
I did a sort of tally of savings overall by store. I’ll look only at the stores where I do the bulk of my shopping: Target, Walgreens, and Jewel. There might be a small produce run to a local store, but if we spend $15 there a month, that would be a lot, so I feel OK excluding that amount.
There was a trip to Costco thrown in fairly early into the month where we bought staple items: spinach, carrots, soy milk, dog food, frozen chicken breasts, frozen tilapia filets, etc. That trip, which we do every 6-8 weeks, costs an average of about $150. I find it difficult to measure exactly how much we “saved” by going to Costco. What should I compare the items we purchased to? The price at one of the three stores I usually go? The average retail price of the item in Chicago (where would I even get this information)? So, I’m counting it as an added expense.
I’ve tallied up my receipts and here’s what I’ve spent and saved in July:
Amount Paid: $8.29
Amount Saved: $17.20
Best deal on an item: Skintimate Shave Cream for $0.49, which was 89% off the regular price.
Amount Paid: $45.71
Amount Saved: $53.86
Best deal on an item: Kellogg’s cereal for $0.99. which was 80% off the regular price.
Amount Paid: $86.67
Amount Saved: $49.86
Best deals on items: Sharpie pens and scotch tape for free! Savings of 100%.
As for meal planning, I just looked at what I had on hand, and made something from that. Those last minute trips to the grocery store really add up, so I avoid them like the plague.
I purchased most items as I found them on sale, and I usually had a coupon or two to add even more savings. Since I have been couponing for a few months now, I do have a “stockpile” of food items that I can pick from when planning meals. For instance, I purchased a huge bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco last month for about $20. I thaw that chicken and use with some of the newer purchases, like buffalo style dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, or cheese and tortillas for tacos.
I also have a growing stockpile of items like toiletries (like body wash, shave cream, and toothpaste), cleaning supplies (like Mr. Clean all purpose cleaner and magic erasers), and general home items (like tin foil, parchment paper, birthday cards, and Kleenex). All of these items have been counted in the totals above.
OK, let’s add it all up and see how much I saved. I spent $154.67 (adding up my totals from Walgreens, Jewel, and Target), plus an additional $75 (half the total from Costco) for a grand total of $229.67. This is all we spent in July, excluding any outside activities/meals. But, you know me, those activities and meals were also discounted due to coupons or other deals.
I saved a total of $120.92 for the month, which comes out to a 53% overall savings. If I keep this up, I’m on target to save about $1,451.04 per year. Not bad for only a couple hours of work per week. Of course, I could have done better if I treat couponing like it’s my job, but for a casual hobby, I’d say it’s paying off pretty well.
Have any of you been tracking your savings? What’s the best deal you got an a single item last month? Do you now agree that couponing can be “worth it”?