Extreme Couponing Makes it Hard to Stick to a Grocery Budget

6 years ago

About 24 hours after I wrote that post about my grocery budget, I found myself panicking because we'd already spent almost $50. I totally freaked myself out -- who knew budgets were so stressful?

After that mini freak out, I was fine. I reviewed the shopping list for Sunday and all was right with the world -- until I found out K-mart was offering double coupons, and then I freaked out all over again. Not really, I just decided that I'd go over budget if I had to. No big deal.

Credit Image: Jeff Keen on Flickr

See how I did that? I set a budget, freaked out when I thought I couldn't stick to it, and then gave myself permission to go over budget. This is why I never make or stick to budgets.

Seriously though, a surprise double coupon event is probably worth going over budget for -- when you don't live in a double coupon area and if there are actual good deals to be had. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view), the K-mart in our area is B.A.D. They have a very small grocery area and their prices are high. I found very little that was worth purchasing, and I bought four things just to support their double coupon efforts. (I should write them an email thanking them for trying ... someone remind me to do that later in the week.)

So here we are, one week into our new food budget, and we did it. Barely. Here's how our week looked:

  • Commissary: 2 Damp Rid, 2 boxes of trash bags, 1 box of zip lock bags, some feta, pesto, a case of Coke, a bottle of sunscreen. Used $12 in coupons, have a rebate form for the Damp Rid. Total: $20.98 OOP
  • Meijer: There was an awesome Buy 5 get $5 off Kraft sale and a few other Catalina OYNO deals I wanted to take advantage of so ... canned mandarin oranges, canned pineapple juice (for TW's Feel Better Tea), Dole fruit cups, Claussen pickles, A1, 3 packages of lunch meat, gallon of milk, a snack bag of animal crackers, hummus, bleu cheese, cheddar cheese, a cucumber and an impulse purchased bag of Chicago Style popcorn. I used $11.83 in coupons, saved $23.29 in sales. Received $6.75 in OYNO Catalinas. Total: $28.06 OOP
  • CVS: We bought Honest Tea, Lipton Natural Tea, a razor, some chocolate, some Neosporin and topical Benadryl and something else I've forgotten, (must have really needed that, eh?) Received $31.98 in ECBs Total:$56.83 OOP
  • Walgreen's: I was struggling to use $16 in RR that were going to expire so we bought some Gatorade, a carton of eggs, 2 bottles of laundry detergent, 4 bottles of shampoo & conditioner, and some Pop Tarts. I have a $5 MIR for the Gatorade and received another $3 RR OYNO. Total: $14.62 OOP
  • K-mart:I couldn't pass up the doubling event and then didn't find anything to buy. Darn it. A box of Celestial Seasoning tea for TW's sister, 2 travel packs of Q-tips, and a bag of gummi bears. Coupons totaled $3.30, after doubling. Total: $4.09 OOP
  • Grand Total OOP: $124.58 Which means next week I can spend $125.42 and stay within my budget.

Yay for us!

Freak out and double coupon surprises aside, it wasn't really that hard. The kids weren't here, we had fresh produce in the fridge, and we had already decided to have light meals to give TW a break from cooking.

This week, we have the girls, and that means someone is going to have to cook, because they expect to be fed regularly. We're going to have to buy fresh produce, more baked goods, more dairy and at least a little bit of meat.

Here's the plan, such that it is:

  • Commissary: We're going to try for another $30 or less trip. I'm pretty sure we can do it -- some bread, some dairy, some produce. We'll be fine, I have some RRs to burn here and that will help.
  • Jewel: Last week I bought 2 Starbucks gift cards at Jewel and received a $20 OYNO Catalina for buying them. We'll use that OYNO to buy dairy, meat, produce -- whatever is on sale and looks good.
  • Meijer: We've got $4.75 in OYNO Catalinas. I don't see anything in the current sale that I really want. We might skip the bread purchases at the commissary/Jewel and buy bread here instead. Or I may hold off and see what deals appear for next week since these OYNOs don't expire until July 1.
  • CVS: I've got $31.98 in ECBs to spend and quite a few things to buy. Looking at next week's ad, I want tampons, HonestTea (My coupons are going to expire!), and I'm also going to do the $30 gas card deal again this week. I'm looking at a total OOP of $20 after using my ECBs.
  • Walgreen's: I've got $20 in RRs to spend, and I don't see very much in the upcoming ad that I want. Since most of my RRs expire this week, I may use a few at the commissary, which will ensure I stay below $30 there. At Walgreen's, I'll probably grab some Pringles and an anti-fungal ointment. I'll only be paying tax OOP.
  • Target: There's a gift card deal I want to try, which means a little less than $10 OOP but I'll get a $5 gift card in return.
  • Farmers Market: This is the first farmers market of the season for us, and this will be where we spend the most money. It's where we always spend the most money, really. And it's been so, so long ... if we can keep it under $50 I'll be really pleased.

If all goes well, we might actually spend less than $100 OOP this week. Maybe. If the farmers market visit doesn't put us over the top. How are you doing with your grocery budget?

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Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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