If you’ve thought at all about groceries and finances, you’ve probably heard have a price book, make a list, and stick to it.  I readily admit that I did check all my prices at one point in the past; now they’re mostly in my head.  But, since Wegman’s moved in and its been many years since I last checked everything, next fall I need to do this again.  I can shop with kids in tow (and a list); I cannot make/maintain a price book.

So, how do I make my list and why do I keep referring to needing to spend X to use all my coupons (example) when I’ve said many times I’m not a “couponer?”  Well, both Stop & Shop and Wegman’s have weekly “spend $25, get X” coupons, sometimes for other amounts.  So, to use those, which are often quite valuable, one has to spend the requisite amount after using all other coupons.  The key for me, therefore, is to maintain a constant $25 level of spending to maximize the number of times I can use those coupons.  (Obviously some weeks I will go higher based on sales/needs.  And, some weeks I skip said store altogether if I’m not going to make use of the coupons.)

So, this week I had $5 off a $25 purchase at Wegman’s (plus $2 off Health & Beauty and $1 off produce if I spent $25).  The best deal here was the kid’s toothpaste which was $2.59 or $0.59 after the coupon.  I’ll include the photo of my groceries next Monday.

The more significant trip this week is Stop & Shop because I have to spend $71 to use all my coupons.  Here’s what I’ve got:

$2 off a whole watermelon with $25 purchase (store coupon)
2 x $1 off three Old El Paso products (manufacturer coupon from coupons.com)
$2 off Tide with $25 purchase (store coupon)
$1 off Tide (manufacturer coupon from newspaper insert)
$1 off Duracel (manufacturer coupon from newspaper insert)
$3 off 2 Pampers bags (manufacturer coupon from newspaper insert)
$5 off $50 purchase (store coupon)
300 gas points with $50 purchase (store coupon)

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Plus, if I spend $25 on P&G products I get an extra $5 at the register, no coupon required.  1 Tide + 1 Duracell + 2 pampers makes $25.  Sum total of coupons to stay above $50 and get the gas points = $71.

Normally this is easy to keep track of at Stop & Shop because Scan It allows you to scan as you go.  The trick this week is that they have a bunch of stuff available for $0.84 each if you buy 12.  This won’t correct until I get to the register so I’ll have to do the math in store to figure out how much above $71 I need to spend with this factored in.

Here’s my list:

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It’s a little messy, but my system is the same every week.  It’s on an envelope where I can put my coupons.  The total I need to spend is in the upper right; it gets changed as I find more relevant coupons.  Stars are items on sale; parentheses indicate quantity and whether there is a coupon.  An underline means I don’t need it now, but will soon (these items help keep my spending level) or they’re fun, well priced items to make the spending amount.  Grape juice & goldfish are bracketed as these are items I can essentially buy an infinite supply of so I have a number I will buy, but I’ll get more to get to $71 if necessary.  Mustard and tomatoes are bracketed because I need to buy a total of 12 of these items.  Duracell, Tide, and Pampers are bracketed because they go together also.  Finally, I have the best price elsewhere for a few items that I’m unsure of Stop & Shop’s price on so I know whether or not to buy them.  A few cents high and I probably will because of the value of making it to $71; but $1 high (which may well happen) and I’ll leave them for another store/another day.

In summary, I do use coupons if they come my way, but I don’t spend large amounts of time hunting for them.  And, I do shop with a list, but it has some flexibility.  I’ll let you know Monday what I actually bought.

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