Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Coupon Redux: Wal-Mart

Like I don't have enough Wal-Mart related anxiety, I did go through with my promise to test out couponing at the retail giant. And let me just request, ahead of time, please, no hating on me because I go to Wal-Mart. Because I do. Go to Wal-Mart. You know what else we have in town? A Walgreen's and a couple of large chain grocery stores, and a couple of independent pharmacies where you can buy a tube of Chap-Stick for $10.95. Plus, this is Arkansas,
home of Wal-Mart and the Walton family, so it's kind of ubiquitous. So back off already; I'd like to maintain my blog's troll-free status. Click image for a legible version.

I'll do this backward, and give you my conclusion first, and then explain myself: I consider my Wal-Mart couponing experience a success, and I think with practice and timing it could come pretty close to my grocery percentages (although, I have recently
hit 51% savings on groceries).
At first blush, it doesn't seem as impressive, but there are several mitigating factors involved. I saved a total of 28% off of my Wal-Mart purchases, and here are my excuses for the percent saved not being higher:

In the first place, the things you opt to buy at Wal-Mart (or Target, or K-Mart, or whatever you have in your area), instead of at the grocery store, are expensive things, and you choose a big-box store because these items are generally cheaper than they are at the grocery store. You know, stuff like laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, deodorant, shampoo, makeup, pantyhose, razorblades, pet food...you get my drift.

Another reason I chose to take my coupons for these items to Wal-Mart, besides the base price of the items in question being lower (and even if they weren't, Wal-Mart will honor ANY competitor's sales circular), is that the grocery stores here will only "double" coupons up to 60 cents' face value. The more expensive items have higher-value coupons, so it doesn't pay, so to speak, to use them at the grocery store, if you're only going to get face-value for them anyway.

If you click on the photo, you can enlarge the receipt and see exactly what I bought (Hey! 14-cent bananas!), and the coupons that were redeemed. I've marked, with flickr notes, the only three items for which I did not have coupons: koi pond food (the fish gotta eat), Hanes socks for Bella, and a pack of gum. What can I say? I'm weak. Also, I had coupons for FREE Iams tartar-control dog treats (kind of like "Greenies") that my dogs love, but they were out of stock on the small size that the free coupons were for, and I was unable to resist buying the larger-size treats, for which I had $2-off coupons. At three packages, that was a $9 splurge that was not strictly neccessary. Again, weak. But I'm proud, once more, that we did not buy one thing that was not on our list (aside from my gum, but I'M ENTITLED TO SOMETHING, PEOPLE), and that we had coupons for all but THREE items purchased. Pretty good, I think.

I may try Walgreen's sometime this weekend, because they have a circular out containing some MEAN buy-one-get-one deals, and store coupons, AND they just come on out and invite you, in writing, to also bring along your manufacturer's coupons, to increase your savings! And they've got a cool-looking rebate program I have yet to investigate. Oh, and because Shash asked, I also posted a few pics of the 600-picture photo album I'm using to organize my coupons, in a special flickr set. And if you are interested in this, you are my geeky compadre.

11 comments:

  1. I looked at the Flickr photos, and I have to say, I never find coupons for Tyson chicken breast EVER in my paper. I'm tempted to try The Grocery Game, where you get an email on Sunday with what's on sale at your local grocery store and what coupons in the paper match the sales.

    Excellent job on your couponing! I would have bought way more than three "extras"!

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  2. You don't need no stinking grocery game. Seriously. I checked it out, and it's exactly what I'm doing, but for free. Besides, you know where your favorite store is, and I'm only going to ONE.

    I clipped some, then bought more, Tyson coupons from coupon master online. The cost is sooooo tiny, just a few cents for 3 coupons, and I used every one. When they have a fresh chicken sale (and this IS Tyson country), I will be READY!

    The big thing that happened for us this week, grocery-wise, was that after I'd organized all my Kroger stuff, they sent out an extra little 1-page flyer in the Sunday paper, with deeper discounts on things that were already on sale. So for example, Roman Meal whole-grain bread was 10/$10, right? Then Roman Meal had an on-package coupon for 50 cents off. Kroger has to double coupons up to 60 cents. So...ask me how many loaves of FREE bread are in my freezer.

    Gotta love stuff like that.

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  3. I am your geeky compadre!

    You are now my coupon queen!

    Off to buy my book to get started!

    Shash

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  4. I have to admit my complete and utter jealousy at the fact that you can do this! Coupons are practically useless to me, since 1. I'm single and this seems to really work only for those who can buy in bulk, plus I don't have storage space for non-perishable or freezable stuff if I do decide to buy in bulk; 2. I tend to buy mostly foods that don't ever get coupon discounts (i.e. fresh veggies and meats); and 3. When I buy other stuff it's usually generic brands that end up being cheaper than brand name stuff with a coupon anyway.

    So, I've decided I need to get married and have several children immediately so that I can start my apprenticeship as a super-coupon-saver!

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  5. AT .84 cents for your gum I think that you can be forgiven for your weakness, CONGRATS on selling the house so quickly after you listed it!!! I will keep a good thought for all things good.

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  6. I have to agree with Ami, that this is hard for a single person with no extra freezer space. I just barely get through a half gallon or even a pint of milk before it goes bad most weeks.

    Maybe I will study your method some more before attempting it.

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  7. You are brilliant. If I ever have a home again I am going to try to get to 50% savings on my groceries too!

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  8. Yayyyyy!!! You did good!

    I've been in school all week so I'm behind in my reading! :-)

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