Thursday, May 7, 2009

Courageous Coupon Collectors

I've always been in awe of women like my Mother (and also my Sister in-law) who painstakingly slog through piles of flyers, adverts and coupon booklets in search of the best deal. My Mom tries to help me by calling or emailing me about deals, and my Sister in-law has even started a blog to show the world how to stretch a buck. Growing up, my Mom & Dad were able to clothe, feed, and shelter us on what I now know was often only the 50% pension my Dad was receiving following his wrongful dismissal suit.

My Mom zips around to probably 4 or 5 different stores each week to do her grocery shopping. She reads all the flyers, collects the coupons, and makes a game plan for the week. If ground beef, or milk, or toilet paper is on for really cheap, the family goes to the store to buy the maximum number of items allowed (often through different line-ups). This is how I was brought up.

Despite all this, I've never bothered checking flyers, using coupons or shopping around. I figured flyers were a sneaky way to draw you into the store and make you think things are on sale when they really aren't. I've also noticed that when Safeway does their BOGO sales, that the 1st item costs as much as 2 items anyway. I guess I always figured that my time spent doing all that was worth more than the couple of bucks I could have saved.

A few things lately have changed my mind.

My Sister in-law's flyer blog has some great tips as well as links to several other bargain hunters. I was browsing one of them, Stocking the Larder when I stumbled across the $100 grocery challenge.

This woman is trying to feed her family of 4 for a whole month on $100.00 in groceries. I'm ashamed to admit I often spend that much for two people, in a little over a week. It got me thinking, and I guess I'm still thinking.

To explain and/or justify the $$ that I spend, I have to first say that we try to eat local and organic as much as possible. We choose (for the most part) not to by frozen, packaged or processed foods, and therefore get a lot of items, like meats, at specialty shops. I also started to shop at our mid-priced grocery store instead of the lower priced Superstore, because the lines were ridiculously long.

Money has been tight this last year, because we seem to have disaster after disaster, and on top of that, we're both people who like to spend. We've really curbed our spending, but the disasters keep coming. (for example, we have the plumbers coming for the second time tomorrow to rip up our bathroom wall. oh joy.)

I took a look at some online flyers this morning and it didn't take long to see I could save some serious money. Even buying 'whole foods' like fresh & frozen meats, produce, bakery and dairy, I could see differences in prices between my usual haunts and a few convenient alternatives. What really drove it home was knowing that every week I pay around $7/lb for center-cut pork loin chops, when IGA has them on for $3.69/lb.

So it comes down to whether I'm willing to compromise my ideals to save some money. I'm not sure. The locally raised organic meats we buy are far superior to the supermarket USA imports. I also really like buying fruit & veg directly from the farmers at markets, and that is usually a little more expensive too. At the same time, can I afford not to save some money?

I think I'll take the weekend to mull it over while I take in the flyers. I'll figure out next week's meals, and price them out. If a family of 4 can feed themselves on $100/month, we should be able to too.


Jody said...

I wouldn't call it painstakingly slog because I enjoy a good deal as much as you enjoy cooking a good's just in me. I LOVE flyer day and I love knowing I saved money. Especially when I know we got things we couldn't otherwise afford. To get by on $100 per month you have to have a good stock of canned and frozen goods so you only need periodic replenishing. If you find you are paying more for noticeably better quality it might be worth it. Buying local is also environmentally friendly.

Quill said...

Good to know. Who knows- maybe I'll enjoy it too! Do you plan your shopping (and meals) around the sale items, or do you plan your list then look for where to get everything? All tips appreciated! Thanks!