In the past few weeks, I’ve been doing my best to shop using coupons and watch the sales to get the best deals that I can. I actually enjoy perusing the sale flyers to see what’s on sale and how I can make the sales work for me.
But I started to wonder if I was really saving money. So I decided to take a detailed look at my receipts from the past week.
Total before savings: $83.78
Total after savings: $61.81
Total Savings: $21.97
Not bad, right? And while it looks like a lot of money for one person for a week, that involved a lot of stocking up. I won’t need to buy Lean Cuisines for lunch or Coke Zero for the rest of the month, among other things. But the question is, did I buy anything that I normally wouldn’t buy?
The answer is, unfortunately, yes. I picked up some pudding snacks and some single serve apple sauce because I had coupons. I did exactly what the manufacturers wanted me to do. So how much did this cost me? $9.38 before coupons, and then I used $3 in coupons. So $6.38 of things I wouldn’t normally buy.
Not too bad, all in all. And the extras I bought are things that will go into my lunch and replace other afternoon snack foods. But that’s still something that I need to watch out for when I’m clipping coupons
I also hit up CVS this week. It was a much more expensive trip than normal, because I needed to replace a few things. I also don’t play the CVS game like some – I do my best not to buy something I don’t normally buy just to get the ECBs.
Total before savings: $71.03
Total after savings: $40.87
Total Savings: $30.16
ECBs back: $3.00
Not bad. AND! I didn’t buy anything I wouldn’t normally buy, nor did I buy anything not on my list. Plus I managed to get enough deodorant to last the rest of the year. It seemed a little silly to buy four sticks of deodorant, but it’s my preferred brand, and at $1.99 off, plus a “Spend $10, get $3 ECBs” plus a $1 coupon, it was worth it.
Because of all the stocking up I did this past week, I expect to not have to spend much over the next few weeks on groceries and items from CVS. Watching the savings add up can be a bit addicting. I just have to continue to be careful to only buy things I need – otherwise the coupons aren’t worth it at all.
Also, I’m still buying a newspaper every week rather than subscribing. I would be saving about half the price of the paper if I subscribed, but I’m waiting to see whether or not I can actually keep up with the couponing. I used to subscribe to a paper before I moved to the D.C. area and it ended up piling up on my kitchen table because I lost interest in couponing, and the subscription cost became a waste. I don’t want that to happen again.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.