Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bargain hunting: Smart shopping without going extreme

Since I am working full-time, I cannot go crazy with coupon clipping, deal hunting and going to different grocery stores on a regular basis. Most of the time, I do not even compare prices and simply buy what I know is a good price. But occasionally, when I have the time like today I like to use up my coupons and see how much I can save if I take the time to actually plan a trip.

I had several coupons, some for free products, some for reduced products and figured that Kroger would be a good place to use them up - in part because a couple of coupons were specific for Kroger's Private Selection line of foods.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - one morning careful shopping on clearance and coupon items
 I went to the Kroger on Hwy 54 because they have one aisle with all reduced items and I was curious what I would find there. I also grabbed my coupons that were good through 11/30 to make I got them all used up, if prices were decent at the store.

The above haul is less than $25. It kind of expensive because I scored two packages of Nescafe Dulco Gusto coffee, one with 16 cups Cafe Americano and another box with 8 cups of Cappuccino. I had gotten a free coffee maker from Dulco Gusto a couple of years ago and love it because you can make real cappuccino with it. Nescafe uses as a two capsule set up in which you first brew coffee with a capsule and then use a second capsule for the frothed milk. This box was for regular cappuccino, but they also have flavored latte and flavored cappuccino, but at 50 cents for a cup of real cappuccino I am not complaining. I can always add Torani syrup for flavor to the cup!
Then I used up my Private Selection coupons from bzzagent and scored free blue marbled pepper jack cheese, which will be interesting to try as well as a free jar of pasta sauce. They got quite a nice selection of Private Selection pasta sauces and I encourage you to try them, if you have not. I am very happy with the quality of the Private Selection line and I am sure I will like the pasta sauce as well  - I opted for the spicy marinara sauce!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - what $25 can buy with coupons and sale items!
Next I saw spotted the Nescafe Memento on clearance. I did not have a coupon anymore, but I love the caramel latte flavor and for less than $2 and 8 portions this is a very good price even without the coupons (I have used those all up and the Kroger does NOT accept printed coupons from the Internet).
Then the Glade line of air fresheners came. I had a free product for a refill when I bought a pineapple mangosteen diffuser. I love the scent of pineapple and mangosteen, so I used that coupon and then also had an outright free spray in the same scent - this one makes a donation for every purchase to breast cancer research (therefore the pink wrapping). So these coupons got used before expiration and I can feel free to spray pinapple / mangosteen all around the house - really, if you have not experienced that scent, you must give it a try. I absolutely love it and keep spraying it in my house once I am done with work and want to relax, it makes me feel as I am on a tropical island on vacation.

The last two items were a free roll of Grands Biscuits that I got through a coupon in my Thanksgiving Cravebox  and a reduced jar of Private Selection mixed Greek olives. I love olives and splurge occasionally on these good olives.

I started with a little bit more than $45 and with coupons and discounts ended up with less than $25. The savings were actually larger since the $45 total already includes the discounted two boxes of Nescafe Dulco Gusto coffee and the Nescafe Memento, which totaled another $12 in savings - bringing my actual total from $57 down to $25 - more than 50% savings and without going crazy on extreme coupon usage or spending hours scouring websites for printed coupons.

One final note, I really do not appreciate the fact that no local Kroger store will accept printed coupons. A lot of companies rewards loyal customers by making online coupons available, such as for people that like them on Facebook. I know that Kroger stores in other parts of the country continue to accept printed coupons and there is no corporate policy that prohibits individual stores from accepting internet coupons (here is the digital coupon policy by Kroger). I usually collect printed coupons and head to Food Lion - I have also several times walked out of the Kroger on S. Roxboro because they randomly come up with new policies such as a limit on the number of coupons per transactions. I once had gotten coupons for Pillsbury party supplies to host a party and wanted to buy 5 rolls of Pillsbury products with for free coupons (these coupons were mailed to me, not printed from the internet) and the person said only one coupon per customer. So I dropped my items and walked out, went to Food Lion and used the coupons without issue. I have shopped less and less at Kroger, not because their products are low quality or prices are too high, but simply because of their attitude towards coupons. Coupons, especially internet coupons, are a way of life now and unless Kroger wants to lose a large share of customers, they better get used to this way of shopping.

No comments: