I confess–I’m not the best coupon organizer. I am good at clipping them, but bad at filing them, and even worse at remembering to use them in the store. However, I recognize the savings potential for using coupons, which is especially important in the current era of rising food prices. But, there is a danger in using coupons.
Often times we found ourselves buying things we didn’t really need just because there was a great coupon deal. We decided to focus our coupon strategy, taking advantage of store sales, coupon-doubling and eBay to maximize savings on the few items we actually used.
How it Works, a Recent Example
Our family likes adding I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray to vegetables such as corn on the cob. It has zero fat, is calorie free, and is generally healthier than real butter alternatives. It is also expensive, especially in the spray bottle packaging. Our local Kroger store recently offered I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter 2/$3.00 dollars. The $1.50 price was competitive with other stores, including Wal-Mart and another smaller, regional grocery store. The deal also included larger 16oz. tubs, and smaller double packs of 8oz. tubs.
eBay to the Rescue
A quick search on eBay shows several auctions for a lot of 10 $0.40/1 coupons for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, expiring at the end of June. The buy-it-now auction price is $1.00 with $0.42 shipping. I ordered a lot of 10 coupons and they arrived a couple days later. Our local Kroger store doubles up to 3 manufacturer coupons per item per transaction up to $1.00, so we will actually save $0.80 on each product we purchase. If we buy just two products the coupons will more than pay for themselves ($1.60 in savings versus $1.42 cost). But the savings don’t stop there. I picked up three spray butters, and my wife picked up another one along with two large tubs that we will use in recipes. Total savings, $4.80 off the retail price. Take away our $1.42 cost to acquire the coupons and we saved $3.38, or roughly 37.5% off the sale price.
Check the Expiration
Notice in the explanation above we only used 6 of the 10 coupons I bought from the eBay coupon clipper. I could have gone back in for a separate transaction and purchased three more units, but based on our average length of use for each item they probably would have expired long before we could have used them up. The $0.70 spray bottles we did buy, and both tubs, will keep in our refrigerators until ready for use, but it is a good idea to check the expiration for any perishables when stockpiling food in the manner I’ve described. After all, the point of being frugal is to eliminate waste from our lives, not add more to it!
Do you have a similar coupon strategy?
photo by: ninjapoodles