Friday, November 16, 2012

The Case for Couponing

Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. I have never been a big fan of grocery store coupons. The ones that generally come my way are trifling discounts for overpriced products no prudent shopper would touch with a ten foot pole. My basic grocery store strategy is to create a list, usually a mental list, but a written list would be even better. Almost everything I have read on the subject recommends planning a menu, then generating a grocery list based on your plans. Impulse buying is always bad for a budget. Usually I buy generics or house brands if the quality is acceptable. If no acceptable quality generic is available I usually buy the brand name item that is on sale. If I have to pay full price for something I want, oh well. An example would be the Dole 100% Juice line of drinks. In my humble opinion they have no equal. They are well worth the price even when not on sale. I also play a game as I do my shopping. I run the totals in my mind while trying to memorize the sale prices. When I watch the clerk run the register it pleases me if my totals and memories are reasonably accurate.

I know a young lady who has developed couponing into a science. She has a large three ring binder filled with plastic holders made for baseball cards. She has an organized system for sorting coupons by store or product. She has a network of like minded women who trade coupons with one another. She scours the Internet for coupons for the products she wants to buy. She knows when sales and offers begin and end at different grocery store chains. Her grocery store experience has more in common with a planned military assault than what we laymen would call shopping. The results of her efforts are significant. With a full time job and all the other stuff on my plate it doesn’t seem like a new trick I want to learn….but maybe?

Yesterday, I made a trip to the grocery store. Amongst other items, I wanted to buy some Italian sausage to go with a pot of French Onion Soup I cooked earlier in the week. True to form, I scanned the appropriate freezer looking for sale items. I didn’t find any Italian sausage on sale but I did find Boar’s Head brand Knockwurst on sale, close enough. Here is how it worked out.

2 pounds of Knockwurst at $6.49 a pound = $12.98
Less $1.50 per pound sale price= $9.98

Here is the kicker. Each of the two remaining packages of this product came with a $4.00 instant coupon.

This lowered the price of 2 pounds of premium Knockwurst to $1.98! It was so unbelievable I asked a store employee if what I was seeing was for real. He assured me that would be the price at the register. He then asked me if there were any left at that price. When I told him I had the last two packages he was thoroughly bummed out.

One more discount; since I am over 60 I get a 5% geezer discount if I do my shopping on Thursday. I wonder why so many elderly customers show up on Thursday? So knock another 10 cents off the price.

2 pounds of Knockwurst at $6.49 a pound = $1.88! Woo! Hoo!

Maybe there is something to this couponing business. I think I will explore this more once I retire.

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