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Have I got a money-saving plan for you! You too can find the joy I’ve come to know in saving up to 50% off of my grocery bills!! 

Okay, that sounds a bit too much like an infomercial or a pyramid scheme. Don’t be scared. Let me dial it back a bit and just say that paying a little more attention to weekly sales and coupons can definitely save money, and who couldn’t use a little more of that?

Until recently,  I was reading the weekly circulars and trying to take advantage of special offers on stuff like soda (Diet Crack), but I wasn’t trying all that hard.  I  placed an emphasis on convenience and shopped on an as-needed basis. That meant one-stop shopping, and usually on a daily basis.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched Extreme Couponing on TLC. I know what you’re thinking (I certainly was) – “Those women are NUTS!!”…and, in the interest of full disclosure, I still DO think they’re nuts. I mean, really?! 

So, I bought a binder and started clipping coupons. I used baseball card sheets, like some of the ladies on the show. Then I set a few ground rules that would never fly on Extreme Couponing.

1) Use only the newspaper that’s delivered to the house. I won’t buy more than one paper, and I’m not “buying”  or trading coupons online.

2) I’ll only buy products we already use, and I’ll only buy what we will forseeably use in the next month or so (unlike the woman on TLC who has, like, 100 deodorants).   

3) I’ll feed my family something besides boxes of macaroni and frozen food. On Extreme Couponing, they don’t buy ANY fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, or dairy. If I buy that stuff, it could hurt my savings % , but I’d rather that the kids NOT get scurvy.

4) I won’t buy anything that’s not on my list (even if there’s an OUTRAGEOUS deal on frozen pizza). Just cutting back on my own impulse shopping (is that a NEW granola brand?) should save me some money.  

The hardest part, for me, will be making trips to several different stores to take advantage of all the deals. When the twins were little, I got in the habit of getting in and out of the car as few times as possible, and now I’m just in a hurry – even if the kids aren’t with me.

I carefully planned my trips this week, using circulars and my growing coupon collection — one trip each to Weis and Giant and two trips to CVS and Walgreens (one to earn reward dollars and one to spend them before they expired — tricky).

Here’s how I did…

CVS Trip #1: cereal, trash bags, shampoo, snacks – total $55.25 less savings rewards of $22.45 = final cost $32.90 – saved 41%, earned $10 CVS card and 25% off purchase coupon.   

CVS Trip #2: toothbrushes, cold medicine, cleaning products, milk – total $21.06 less 25% coupon $5.27, less $10.00 gift card from Trip#1 = final cost $5.79 – saved 73% 

Weis Trip: paper towels & plates, Tastycakes, english muffins – total $46.31 less savings rewards of $19.13, less $3.00 store coupon = final cost $24.18 – saved 48% 

Walgreens Trip #1: Kleenex, Holiday tins/plates (for gifts), Ziploc bags, jelly, laundry detergent, lip balm – total $76.37 less $22.13 savings rewards, less $2.75 coupons = final cost $51.49 – saved 33%, earned $10 Walgreen bucks.

Walgreens Trip #2: soda, vitamins, 2012 Entertainment book – total $63.36 less savings rewards $7.40, less $1 store coupon, less $10 raincheck price on coupon book, less $10 Walgreen bucks = final cost $34.96 – saved 45%

Giant: Meat, frozen food, coffee creamer, bread, toothpaste – total $84.08 less $17.53 savings rewards, less $4.00 coupons = final cost $62.55 – saved 26%

Original Cost $346.43, Final Cost $211.87 — SAVED 39% plus FUTURE savings from Entertainment Book!

Thank you! thank you…you’re too kind. I KNOW… it IS amazing….

You know, it took me longer to put together this post than it did to shop this week?

VERDICT? Totally worth it….and sort of fun (in a getting-to-use-your-brain kind of way)

Try it!