Tuesday, October 27

The post where I brag

Since yesterday I talked all about Register Rewards and Extra Care Bucks and other savings programs, I figured now was as good a time as any to sing my own savings praises.

Now that my mom isn't just down the hall, I am trying to make sure we have a good, stocked pantry -- both food and toiletries. It hasn't been quite as much hassle as I expected. Part of me thinks of it as some weird treasure hunt -- where you are searching for the right combination of clues (circulars and coupons) to get something for nothing.

I have been eating a lot of FiberOne bars lately. They are incredibly tasty and keep hunger away a lot longer than I would have suspected, given that they're under 200 calories. The only problem is that a box costs over $3.50 and contains only 5 bars. Gulp.

I had been getting them from Sam's Club, where a pack of 20 is around $6.50. Good, but not great. Thankfully, Fry's came to my rescue with a weekly special. When you bought 4 participating products (which included FiberOne bars) you'd get them for $1.57 each. Even better, Fry's has been rounding up all coupons to $1, so my 40-cent-off coupons would knock the price down to 57 cents a box.

Due to limited quantities, we could "only" get 16 boxes. (That's $9.12 if any of you are counting.) I got a rain check for 8 more. To get enough coupons, I had to go to Coupon Clippers which I'd never been to before. (I'll try to do a quick review of the site tomorrow.) But even if those coupons are the only ones I use from the whole order, which was just over $4, I'll still have only paid $0.77 a box -- or $18.48 for 24 boxes. That's 120 bars for less than the cost of 60 at Sam's Club. I practically clicked my heels together on the way out of the store.

This weekend, Safeway had Wheat Thins on sale for 99 cents a box. Unfortunately, I had no fabulous coupons for those, but it was a good enough sale that we stocked up. There was a limit of 3 per person, so we had to go through the line a few times. But we now have 12 boxes sitting, waiting for Tim's love of cheese and crackers to kick in. And it will.

Walgreens had a great deal on foil. A 20 sq ft box of foil was 59 cents. The Dollar Tree was (surprise) $1 for a 15 sq ft roll. I'm using more foil nowadays, so that if I just make chicken in the slow cooker, I won't have to wash it. So we got 12 boxes. Three of those are actually 70 sq ft rooConsidering it's twice that at the Dollar Tree, I wanted to pile them up. We ended up with 12 boxes -- three of which are 70 sq ft because Tim misread the coupon and got the cashier to put the boxes through at the sale price. He may find himself taking more trips if those are the kind of results he gets!

Unfortunately, the rest of the Walgreen's transactions were a lot more complex. The plan was to buy:

  • 1st checkout: 3 bottles of Theraflu @ 4.99, or $14.97. With $4.50 in coupons, I would spend $10.47 and get $8RR.
  • 2nd checkout: Gillette Fusion razor @ $8.99. With the $8RR, I would spend $0.99 and get $6RR.
  • 3rd checkout: 12-pack of Quilted Northern double rolls @ $6.99. With the $6RR, I'd spend $0.99

I say that the plan "was" to buy these because there was human error almost immediately. I got rung up at the pharmacy, where I was getting my medications, so the total was combined and so didn't set off any alarms. At the end of the transaction, I only got $4RR, the reward for buying 2 bottles of Theraflu, instead of $8RR, the reward for buying 3 bottles. I had picked out three different kinds of Theraflu, so I assumed one of them simply hadn't been on sale. As I walked over to get it taken care of, I picked up a fourth bottle of just plain old Theraflu to switch out with whichever one hadn't counted.

But when I got to the counter and started to explain, I figured out what had gone wrong: The guy had only rung up 2 bottles, but had given me 3. (Though I still got the $4.50 off in coupons, for a total of $10.48.)

We started to go back toward the pharmacy to undo the mistake, when the manager offered to let me just keep the third bottle and take the $4RR. Since each bottle cost $4.99, compared to $4RR, it was a good deal , and I agreed. He handed me back the bottle and the RR slip. Tim and I were both thoroughly confused at this point and decided to go home, saving the next two steps for another day.

It wasn't until I got to the car that I realized the manager had, in fact, handed me the fourth bottle. The idea of going back and explaining yet another mistake to him and deciding what to do about the original mistake... I could actually feel the headache looming in the distance. So we just went home, and I tried not to see myself as a character from Paper Moon.

The rest of the transactions went smoothly (thank goodness), and my only slip-up was that I brought a coupon for the wrong brand of toilet paper. The right one was sitting at home. Too bad too, because it would have been great savings: $6.99 for the toilet paper and 59 cents for a box of foil, minus $6RR and $1 off the toilet paper. In other words, I'd have paid 58 cents for both items. Maybe next time.

In the end, things weren't that different. Under the plan, we'd have spent $12.45 (plus tax) for 3 bottles of Theraflu, a Gillette Fusion razor, and the 12-pack of toilet paper. Instead, we ended up paying $11.46 for 4 bottles of Theraflu, the razor and the toilet paper.

It was very nearly worth the headache that loomed nearby for the rest of the day of the Theraflu transaction. I suppose it will get easier. But next time I think I'll make sure to watch everything being rung up. Otherwise, I'll have to use some RR on some Advil.


Blogger frugal zeitgeist said...

Impressive!! I was all proud of myself this weekend because I got to live a lifelong dream: I went to a Costco type warehouse store and bought a 45 roll pack of two-ply toilet paper. They were double rolls and the package says they are equivalent in total to 112 regular rolls. Total cost: $25.00.

Yup, that's living the dream.

October 27, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Nice buying there, FZ. I'm hoping to stock up like that!

October 27, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Blogger David said...

I know a way to save more on toilet paper than any coupon or special. This covers all the bases = saves you money, helps the environment, helps your health, makes you feel better, it's so easy to do and it costs less than $50.00; Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off” Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without feeling guilty. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but remember the water use of industrial users far exceeds the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.

October 28, 2009 at 11:32 AM


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