I've never been one to keep a close eye on prices. It drove my husband out of his mind. So, now with a bad economy and me deciding to go out on my own at the worst possible time in history, I'm watching every dollar.
I've looked at our budget, read blogs on how to save money, studied the local circulars, and surfed the web for any and all coupons and discounts I can find. At the end of the day, I have to ask myself, "What am I really saving?"
I actually spent a good 6 hours trying to figure out how to save money on groceries last week. I went to Coupon Mom, SmartSource, and Coupon Surfer to check out the latest coupons. They were horrible. Printing is a nightmare, they pretty much have the same thing, and a lot of the coupons you then have to sign-up with the manufacturer. You can only print the current week's coupons even if there are others that are still valid from several weeks ago.
Next I go through the circulars of all the markets I like to shop at. I circle the items I think are really a good deal (and that I need) then compare that to the list of coupons I have. I come up with a list that has consolidated the deals and where I can shop to get them. I'm left with a shopping trip that will take me to all three markets and take about 3 hours worth of shopping. Let's hope the ice cream that I got such a good price on doesn't melt or the milk that is on special doesn't spoil.
At the end of all this, I did the shopping. I get to the first place and then realize that I'm missing my biggest saver, the $5 Iams dog food coupon I signed up for was still sitting at the kitchen table. So, even though Target had a sale on a 17lb bag for a little over $17, I couldn't buy it yet. By the way, I realized I had left about 4 other coupons at home. AAAHHHH!
As I stand in line watching as things are ringing up, I'm wondering, did I really save anything? I did a bit of analysis this week to figure that out.
On average, we spend about $800 per month on food and household necesities. This amount was shopping frugally (items on sale, reduction of prepared foods, only things we need). If I average out what I spent this weekend which was a typical shopping trip, I was going to be spending more, buy about $100.
I tried to determine why.