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Provident Shopping

Several years ago, my grandma asked me to drop her off for some shopping at DI (Deseret Industries), with instructions to pick her up in two hours.

When I arrived to pick her up, I could see that she had a shopping cart full of all kinds of things: clothing, blankets, dishes, shoes…everything but the kitchen sink. (Actually, that could have been in there too, I’m not sure.) I asked her if she was finished shopping, and she said, “yes,” so we headed to checkout.

As I started pushing the cart toward the register, she said, “Wait, I’ve got two more carts parked over here!” And indeed, she did. Three carts. Full. Oh my!

After she checked out (if I remember correctly, her total bill was over $300) we loaded up my minivan with garbage bags full of stuff. When we got back to her house, I asked her if she wanted me to help her sort it out and put it in bags for those she was buying for, and she said, “No, just store it in the basement. I don’t know anyone who needs it right now.”

Moral of the story: Even if it’s a great deal, spending money on things you don’t need is money down the drain. Don’t do it.

Several years ago we had an enrichment class in Relief Society about couponing. Up until that time, I had considered it a waste of time, but that night I really learned how to make it work for me. At that time, I always shopped at the same grocery store (shout out to Macey’s in Pleasant Grove!), and I developed the most fabulous system for shopping the ads and couponing there. I had my recipe box organized by Macey’s aisle, and organized my coupons by expiration date in there. Every week I would shop the ad for what was on sale and pull the coupon for that product if I had one. By buying when things were on sale and using a manufacturer’s coupon, I purchased virtually everything when it was a great price. I still spent the same amount of money on my shopping budget, but I got so much more for my money. (Buy one, get one free is so great when the item is already on sale!)

For the first time ever, my pantry was well stocked and well organized. Did it take me a lot more time? Not really. I spent about 30 minutes on Monday morning cutting coupons, shopping the ad, and pulling my coupons for the day. My actual shopping time was probably lessened by these preparations, because I was organized and knew exactly where to find everything. I absolutely loved looking at that receipt at checkout and seeing that I had saved more off the regular price on things than I had spent shopping that day!

So, why did I stop couponing?

I moved. Then I moved again. I never really found stores I liked, and I didn’t subscribe to the local papers and get coupons anymore.

Today I was reminded that I should start again. I got a coupon packet that they were handing out at the grocery store, and just in the few coupons I used today, I saved a couple of bucks.

And while I haven’t used them, I have heard that there are fantastic websites that tell you what items are on sale at various stores, and match up your coupons for you. I need to try that!

It’s totally worth it. Check up on me in a few months and see if I am sticking with my goal to shop providently once more!

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Alison Moore Smith March 29, 2011, 5:20 pm

    TLC has a new show called Extreme Couponing. If you want to get motivated to coupon, this is the place. :)

    I used to be a serious couponer back in college. We literally went through graduate school without paying for shampoo, conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, etc. In fact, generally we made money on these items by combining sale prices, double coupons (does anyone still offer this?), and rebates.

    That said, the method is only useful, like Angie said, if you want and will use the items offered. I don’t want Hamburger Helper or Captain Crunch, even if it’s free. So the use of coupons is limited to the few things I’d actually purchase.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Budget Your Auto RepairsMy Profile

  • Darcee Yates March 29, 2011, 10:17 pm

    I so well remember the double coupon days. I collected the sunday coupon page from anyone that ‘didn’t feel it was worth their time’. When my kids were young teens and it seemed they lived on cereal. I got all the free or nearly free boxes I could.

    Now I don’t use coupons. I should! But I don’t. I don’t even look at them.

    However, I still love to go to the dollar store, before a holiday or family gathering to get those items for a buck that are 2 or 3 elsewhere. But I have noticed that once I’m lurred into the store, I end up getting things I hadn’t planned on and certianly didn’t need. Like interesting cooking gadgets that look like a good idea at the time but never get used. Some never even make it out of their packageing!
    Darcee Yates recently posted…Non Rev-ing to RomeMy Profile

  • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 7:33 am

    Ack. I should probably be more diligent here. I’ve done it a bit, but so rarely found things I was actually looking for . . . . On the other hand, I didn’t put the time or effort into organizing it that Angie did. Hmmm. Maybe I should give it a whirl again.

    On the up side, I can confidently say that I’ve NEVER spent $300 at D.I.
    Your grandmother is clearly a more charitable woman than am I.
    Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

  • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 7:36 am

    So, Hey Alison! How come my little link-y thingie by my name shows that I hope people will read an old post instead of my current one? It’s saying I hope they’ll read “My Invisibility Cloak”, when I really hope they’ll read “I Don’t Drink – A Very Dry Tale.”
    (http://www.janielmiller.com/2011/03/i-dont-drink-a-very-dry-tale-not.html)
    Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

    • Alison Moore Smith March 30, 2011, 10:37 pm

      Because you posted when you were logged into Mormon Momma so it used your last post from this blog. If you want CommentLuv to use a different blog, you have to put it in the URL field. :)
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The 4-Hour Workweek Fatal Flaw- It’s MLMMy Profile

    • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:00 pm

      Which url field? The website field after name and email in the comments box? Because if so, that was set for janielmiller.com, so it should have picked up my latest post from that address, right?

      Or do I still have it wrong?
      Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

    • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:00 pm

      Which url field? The website field after name and email in the comments box? Because if so, that was set for janielmiller.com, so it should have picked up my latest post from that address, right?

      Or do I still have it wrong?
      Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

    • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:05 pm

      Okay. Seriously. The Dork-gene is alive and screaming today. How did I get two of the same comment up there?

      Also, I was not and am not still logged into Mormon Momma – at least that I can tell – and it’s still showing up that way. It could be picking up my last post on janielmiller.com, which was a reprint of the Invisibility Cloak post from here. But if it is accessing my blog, why isn’t it picking up my latest post.

      It’s late. My brain hurts. What am I missing here?
      Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

    • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:15 pm

      (Alison, the rest of my comments inexplicably showed up as separate comments below, rather than as replies to this. Please go down there to find out what happened next.) (And okay, it’s not inexplicable. But I don’t want to talk about it. I have a headache that goes all the way down to my toes. Good night.)
      Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

  • MB March 30, 2011, 10:01 am

    I think it works for some and not for others. It depends a lot on how you cook and where you live. If you are a “circumference shopper” (one who cooks primarily from scratch and therefore buys most of her food from the edges of the store–produce, dairy, meat (not deli), bulk grains and beans–and not from the shelves and packages and cans in the middle of the store) it doesn’t work as well. At least not where I live. Where I live 99% of the coupons are for prepared foods, deli meats, packaged foods and canned goods.

    I do purchase canned goods for food storage, but the coupons for the canned goods in my food storage are rare enough that the cost of the newspaper subscription and/or the subscription to the coupon web sites negates the savings of the coupons. I ran the numbers and it’s less expensive for me, with my cooking patterns, to simply wait until the generic store brand goes on sale.

    On the other hand, a friend of mine in another state where markets compete against each other with coupon wars and who has little children who love cold cereal and spaghettios finds coupons extremely helpful.

  • jennycherie March 30, 2011, 12:22 pm

    To be honest, my best bargains always come from “scratch and dent” stores. We have one in our neighborhood, and another near my mom’s house run by the Amish. I almost never buy cereal anywhere else. I don’t know what I would do without these stores!
    jennycherie recently posted…The Good Old DaysMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner March 30, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Jenny, do you mean a store like Aldi (not sure if you are familiar with them?) They buy overstocked items, as well as manufacturing some of their own. They offer things at a lot lower price because they only stock one brand of each item. You don’t have a ton of choices there, but I have found most of their food to be comparable to major brands.

    I shop there quite a bit, although not for my “circumference shopping” (thanks MB!)

    We have a local fruit and vegetable market where I buy most of my produce. They have fantastic prices and decent quality.

    Most of what I use coupons for are shelf stable items, medications, and cosmetics, health, and beauty items. The key for me is buying only things I’d normally buy, and not spending so much time on it that it drives me insane. For me, it is about simplicity and saving money. If it’s not doing both of those things, it’s not worth it for me.

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

  • jennycherie March 30, 2011, 8:43 pm

    ooooooooooooohh – I LOVE Aldi – but that’s not what I meant. A scratch and dent (or “freight damaged) store is a place that sells stuff that is slightly damaged, often merchandise that was in a semi that had a wreck or something like that. They can’t still set it at a normal store, so these stores buy the “wrecked” merchandise, which is often still fine. Then they can usually make a profit, even by selling cheap.
    jennycherie recently posted…The Good Old DaysMy Profile

  • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:10 pm

    WAIT! GADZOOKS! I THINK I HAVE IT (though I still don’t get the double-posted-comment-thingie) (and I still don’t get why it worked before without me having to do anything. But . . . )

    Let’s see if this works. If it does, then this little bit of dork-entertainment is yours for free. If it doesn’t, I’m afraid I’m going to have to charge.

  • Janiel Miller March 30, 2011, 11:13 pm

    You know what? I’m done for the night. That was supposed to be a reply to the thread above about how I can’t get the “Janiel Hopes You’ll Read . . . ” comment to stop referencing the “invisibility cloak” post that I also put on my personal blog. (If you click through you’ll see it’s not referencing Mormon Momma, but JanielMiller.)

    Anyway, sorry Angie and Alison and everyone.
    :P
    Janiel Miller recently posted…My Invisibility CloakMy Profile

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