Couponing in Action: How to Save Big on Groceries

personal finances | September 28, 2018 | By Susannah McQuitty

How to find coupons online

A few weeks ago, we did a basic overview of how couponing works, but I wanted to get some hands-on experience and share the results. When it comes to bargain hunting, there is no one better than Kayla, our Marketing Account Executive.

Kayla and her husband make a challenge of snagging as many deals as possible, and I can’t tell you how many times she’s shot off an email with free coffee, drive-through food, or online deals to the whole office.

Since she passed on the couponing bug, we decided to walk through a basic grocery run and see how much we could save.

Step 1: So, what are we getting?

Typically, when I need to hit up the grocery, I have a couple things that I need and I’m open to getting anything else that catches my eye (better than just wandering into the store and hoping for the best, right?).

For our experiment, I made a short list of items I would typically get:

  • Cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Body wash

Simple enough. Left to my own devices, I’d head to the store and call it a day, but Kayla had a better idea.

Step 2: Find the deals

Instead of taking the list straight to the store and keeping her eyes open for opportunities to save, Kayla sat down with my list and got to work. We looked through her favorite coupon websites and combined deals with in-store coupons from weekly ads and newspaper inserts (we talked about places to find great deals in our last couponing post).

The great thing about doing the deal hunting on the front end was that we found sales for bulk items that were in the same categories as our list. For example, when we went looking for cereal coupons, we found a bargain on granola bars: 4 boxes for $10. Sweet!

Time to update the list with our coupons:

  • Cereal: $1.88 per box
  • Granola bars: 4 for $10
  • Paper towels: $9.48 for a 6 pack of double rolls
  • Toilet paper: $8.98 for a 12 pack
  • Body wash: $1.00 off

After that, it was just a matter of printing the deals and heading to the store.

Online coupon hunting really pays off at checkout.

Step 3: Watch the pricing—is it really a deal?

Most of our coupons were discounted prices for name brands, so I was curious to see how much we were actually saving (because $1.00 off something that’s $20 isn’t all that much of a deal).

As we went through, we compared our discounted prices to the original ones, and what we found was pretty exciting!

Here are all the original prices on our shopping list:

  • Body wash: $5.89
  • Cereal: $3.98
  • 4 boxes of granola bars: $13.92
  • Paper towels: $14.98
  • Toilet paper: $11.48

Those prices would have brought our total to $50.25. Yeesh!

But then we applied our savings:

  • Body wash: $4.89
  • Cereal: $1.88
  • Granola bars: $10
  • Paper towels: $9.48
  • Toilet paper: $8.98
  • Total: $35.23

That’s a grand total of $15.48 saved.

Step 4: Get cash back!

Not only did we land some sweet deals at the checkout line, but we also scanned our receipt in a cash-back app: As it turns out, the body wash got us $1 back, the cereal got $0.20, the granola got $0.75 per box, and the paper towels got $1. That’s another $5.20 of savings on top of the coupons we’d already found, for a grand total of $20.68.

I’ve got to admit, when I think about couponing, I usually imagine more nickel-and-dime level savings. But more than twenty bucks? That’s huge! The strategy for shopping is different, but honestly, it was a cool process (and the challenge aspect was a lot of fun).

I did get to cheat some since I had Kayla’s help—she’s a bargain-shopping icon—but when we finished, I absolutely felt like couponing was something I could easily start doing on my own. Bring on the savings!

Do you have any couponing tips and tricks? Got any questions for our savings guru? Comment below and let us know.


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