Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wanting To Try Something A Little Different

If you are local to the Dallas area, you know that there are a lot of stores around here to shop at.  You may have a single store you shop at each and every week, or you may have a few stores you like to go to and grab the best deals at each.  I tend to fall into the second category, but with gas prices so high these days I have really been trying to cut down on all my little trips to the store.  I have been trying to consolidate as many stops as I can into one logical path on a single outing to save as much gas and travel time as possible.  If I do not think that the deals are worthwhile, I will skip a store altogether rather than make a special trip for one or two items.  You may have noticed I have not been posting as many shopping trips lately.  The simple reason for that is I have not been making as many.  The gas spent alone would nullify my savings if I tried to go everywhere.

When I get my newspaper each Wednesday morning, the first thing I do is glance through the grocery ads.  The main items I look for on my first glance are meat and produce items on sale at their lowest prices.  Those items, for me, are big determining factors in whether I go to a particular store each week.

Once I have scouted out those and decided which stores are worth going to, I will then scrutinize the rest of the ad and see what other items are on sale that I can match coupons with to score items for rock bottom prices, or even for free.  Sometimes if there are enough of these, I will go to a store solely to get items on sale with coupons, especially if they are items that I am running low on.

What I want to begin doing on here each week is to make three separate posts each Wednesday.  One will show the best meat prices I see in my sale ads.  One will show the best produce prices I see in my sale ads (I usually just list those at Aldi, but sometimes the grocery stores have great sales, too).

The third one, and I may not have it ready until Thursday since it will take a bit more work, will be the items at each store which I feel to be at stock-up prices, and I will list coupon match-ups for these items if coupons are available.

I have a couple of reasons that I wish to do it this way.  First off, I honestly just do not have time to provide you with full coupon match-ups for every sale item at the all of the stores around here, and quite honestly everything shown on sale in a sale ad is not necessarily a good sale price.  Secondly, I have had many questions recently about how to get started with couponing, how to get started building a stockpile, etc.  I am afraid that the new Extreme Couponing show on TLC is going to encourage people to coupon in a bad way.

What I mean by this is that I am afraid that people just getting started will see these huge stockpiles (that took a long time to accumulate) and think they need to copy that right away.  They will clip every coupon they can get their hands on, run around to every store in town to get every deal imaginable just because it is on sale and they have a coupon.  Then they will be completely exhausted after just one week, realize that they spent twice what they normally spend at the store because they were "stockpiling" and feel like giving up.

That is not what I want for any of you.  I want you to see that you can slowly integrate couponing into your normal shopping routine.  Perhaps, you are already planning on going to Kroger one week because several items that you will need are on sale there.  If you look a bit deeper into their sale ad, I bet you can find a few more items that you can snag for free or nearly so with coupons.  These are the items that you want to add to the list you have already made to begin your stockpile because 1) They aren't costing you much of anything, and 2) You are already there so you aren't running around to extra places and wearing yourself out and spending extra gas.

Once you try this out with one store (that you were already going to) and you aren't stressed by it, you can add a store that you don't usually shop at (only if there are enough good deals to warrant going there!).  If you have been chasing deals like a mad person, maybe it is time to slow down.  No doubt you've gotten a nice stock going of a few things, so you can now pick and choose which deals you actually need more of.

My aim is to be able to help you better plan sensible shopping trips to the stores with the best prices on your main menu ingredients for the week (and also to kick my butt back into menu planning gear again), and to glean as many of the freebies and cheapies as you can from a particular store while you are already there.  Even if there is an item you absolutely will not use, if you have a coupon that makes it free, you could still pick up a couple for a donation (please, please, please do not clear a shelf just to give them all away!)

If you've been too timid to start using coupons, I want to show you how easy it can be.  If you are just starting out and feeling overwhelmed thinking that you have to chase down all the deals, I want to help you find more bargains at the places you are already going so you won't feel the need to do that.  If you are out there chasing deals already and feeling stressed out, I want you to see that you can take it slower.  We have so many stores around here that deals on any given item come around again rather quickly.  The last thing I want is for any of you to get burnt out and decide to throw in the towel!

Now I'm going to be honest, this is an ideal I have in my head, but I am really bad with follow through.  I'm going to need your help and encouragement that this is actually something that will be helpful for you, so please do not be shy about leaving comments so I don't think no one is reading.  ;)  Also, if you know of another great deal that I left off or anything unadvertised, leave that in a comment too so we can all know to check it out if we are going to that store.

So without anymore babbling on my part, I'm going to go start putting this week's best prices together for you, and we can see how this goes. =)


Lisa Q. May 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM  

Hi Amanda! Isn't the strategy fun?? I feel like playing Settlers is good "cross-training" for couponing because it's all about the strategy. :) Good post!

JRFrugalMom May 24, 2011 at 6:52 PM  

I am already seeing the adverse effects of the Extreme Couponing shows.

Thank you for participating in last week’s Wednesday Window @ Frugality Is Free. I hope you’ll stop by to link up your favorite blog post this week as well.

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