Recently, I read a post where a blogger expressed her discouragement and frustration for only saving 33% on a routine shopping trip. She went on to say that any savings is good savings and we should learn to be happy with less than perfect trips. But the point was not lost that 33% was below her norm and, well – just not good enough.
As I sat there, I wondered how many young women will read that story and feel like a failure because they’ve often saved even less than that? How many will hang up their couponing hat and just plain give up?
It isn’t the first time I’ve read covert (and overt) claims of huge discounts on all grocery trips, all the time. But this one was the last straw. This time, I decided I needed to set the record straight.
Here’s the real deal: Can you save 50-70% on your grocery budget by strategically shopping and using coupons? Yes! Does that mean you’ll save 50-70% on every grocery shopping trip? Um, heck no!
If you followed me to the drug stores, you’d see me score savings averaging around 70%. Sometimes as high as 100%, or even a nice money making trip! I’m talking free toothpaste, deodorant, cheap cleaning items and the like.
If you followed me to my local grocery store, you’d see that I save about 30% on an average shopping trip. Sometimes less. What you may not notice, is that I don’t have any personal care items, cleaning items, diapers, canned goods, pasta or paper items in my cart. There are no cosmetics, vitamins, batteries or medicine in there either. That’s because I already have that stuff in plentiful supply back home that I have accumulated mostly by playing the drug store game. So while my total savings on that particular trip may not knock your socks off, much of the savings is in what you don’t see.
My grocery shopping trips are often about buying food to make meals to feed my family. I have fruits, veggies, meat, milk, flour and a few dairy products. I’ve got gluten free, casein free organic items for my little guy on a special diet. I have juice boxes and lunch box items for my kids.
How often have you seen a milk coupon? Once a month? Is it enough to buy milk for your family until you see another one? What about oranges? Hamburger? I’m not saying you can’t save on that stuff. You can. But it isn’t going to show up on your receipt as $$ off coupon savings. It’ll be because you went to Aldi’s or the farmers market. Or because you have a side of beef in your freezer. It’ll be a result of an overall savings strategy. Not a result of coupons alone.
I call bullcrap on that one.
How many coupon newbies become discouraged and give up when they read dozens upon dozens of ridiculous claims of saving 70% on every grocery purchase? We women are already hard enough on ourselves. We all tend to have this built-in guilt chip that kicks in to tell us we should be doing this better or that better. I think we should be careful in our claims, lest we be responsible for discouraging someone from their couponing endeavors by embellishing our savings in order to look like superqueencoupondiva.
People need us to be real. They need to have a realistic expectation for what they can do. If they don’t, they might give up and walk away from a system that really could save them thousands per year. I save tons of money using coupons. But not 70%. Not just by using coupons alone.
Slashing your grocery budget is all about being strategic. I purchase most of my diapers online. I take advantage of daily deal sites to get bargains on household items. I go to the dollar store and the thrift store every month. I frequent the farmers market. Buy meat in quantity from local farmers. Follow the sale cycles. Once again, it’s an overall savings strategy.
Even if you were the queen coupon diva of the universe, there will still be plenty of times where you’ll walk out of a store with a receipt that shows a savings of 20-30%. That’s okay. That’s normal. That’s how it is, folks.