Saturday, February 05, 2011

This post is boring, but you like it.

Most people describe their first time as being nerve-wracking and full of uncertainty. But I'd been thinking about it about too long. I wanted it too much. There was no need to be embarrassed. So when the moment finally came and it was clear we were both ready, I was prepared. I confidently pulled out my coupons and handed them over to the cashier.

And then I laughed all the way to the bank.

Okay, well, not really. But since my last grocery shop two weeks ago, I've learned five key things:

1) Although I've always had a solid understanding of value, I'm realizing that I have very little understanding of price. I'm good at weighing a purchase and determining its worth. But I have no idea the typical regular price of items that I frequently buy. Is toothpaste usually $10 or $5? I have no idea.

2) Nothing should ever purchased at full price. Year of the Deal is changing the way I shop. Rather than simply purchasing the "necessities" on my list, regardless of price, I now walk up and down the aisles looking for sale stickers. I'm starting to buy things that I don't need in the immediate future because they're on sale now.

3) Unfortunately, having room to build an inventory really is key. Since everything eventually goes on sale, you need to stock up when it does--otherwise you end of buying things at full price.

4) Different locations of the same chain may have different prices. (For instance, Dove body wash at the Shoppers on King & Peter was on sale for $5.99 on Thursday night. On Friday, I went to the Parkdale Shoppers only to discover it was on sale for $4.99. I was so upset about the loss of a $1.00 that I dropped a f-bomb right there in the store.) I always just assumed that all the chains in the same city would have the same prices.

5) I'm bad at math. I didn't actually learn this fact--it was just reinforced. Here's the story: I went into Shoppers on Thursday intending to spend a minimum of $50 (after coupons and sales) so I could get the free $10 gift card. But whenever I looked into my basket, I kept thinking that it wasn't enough. So I added more to the basket. The final price before taxes? $78.90. That's not even close to $50.00. (The really annoying part about this is that if I had split my purchases in half and stocked up on another $20.00 worth of items, I would have received TWO $10.00 off coupons.)

The Deals

I've determined that since I can't build an inventory, it's more useful for me to focus on tracking my total savings, rather than how much I spent on something. I'm certainly no MrsJanuary or Krazy Coupon Lady, but here are some of the deals I got with coupons:

Sunlight Laundry Detergent
Regular Price: 9.99
Sale Price: 6.99
Coupon: 1.00
Final Price: 5.99
Savings: 4.00

Head & Shoulders Shampoo
Regular Price: 8.49
Sale Price: 4.99
Coupon: 2.50
Final Price: 2.49
Savings: 6.00

One A Day Multivitamins
Regular Price: 14.99
Sale Price: 7.99
Coupon: 1.50
Final Price: 6.49
Savings: 8.50

Colgate Toothpaste
Regular Price: 3.99
Sale Price: 1.99 Sale
Coupon: 1.00
Final Price: 0.99
Savings: 3.00

The Points

This week was amazing for points collection. I likely won't continue to detail this or track it on the blog, but I was particularly proud of what went down:

Pet Store

-Double Aeroplan points. (Right now you get double Aeroplan if you purchase groceries or gas with your Amex.)
-Regular Airmiles & promotional Airmiles
-Bonus 25 Airmiles with coupon. (In total I earned 46 Airmiles points at Metro.)

-Triple Aeroplan points. (I filled up at Esso, so I received Aeroplan points. Then I paid with Amex to receive double points with their gas promo.)

-Aeroplan (paid with Amex)
-Shoppers Optimum Points
-For purchasing over $50, I got a $10 gift certificate to Shoppers.

Tracking My Savings

Okay, this is where I'm going to get in the nitty gritty details of how I'm going to track my savings this year. On that note, now's a good time to mention that the only reason I'm blogging about this is because Year of the Deal is on par with my Miss Universe campaign in terms of reader feedback and hits to my blog. (So basically, you've asked for it, although I'm not entirely sure why. Girls in bikinis vs. couponing? Do they really have equal appeal?)

Based on the five key lessons I've learned, I realized that it's necessary for me to track my savings for a couple of reason:

1. To determine how much I'm actually spending in a month on groceries and pharmacy items.
2. To gain a better understanding of value vs. price.
3. To determine the best possible price that I can purchase items for.
4. To track my overall savings for the year.
5. To justify my new obsession to people.

I've decided that it's too much of a challenge to track total grocery savings because of the sheer number of purchases and lack of itemization on receipts. (That and because I'm bad at math.) So instead, I'm going to focus on pharmacy purchases:

Click image to enlarge.

The first tab of the spreadsheet I created tracks purchases made at the drugstore. I typically buy products at Shoppers and will likely continue to do so, but if I pick up laundry detergent or toilet paper at Price Chopper or Metro, I will put it into this spreadsheet for price comparison. My hope is that with this spreadsheet, I'll not only develop a better idea of the value of products, but also of the price.

Click image to enlarge.

On the second tab, I'll transfer all the information from the first tab into the pharmacy section. In the grocery section, I'll track information on my food purchases. The key difference between the two categories is that the pharmacy "savings" will include savings by purchasing something on sale (because it's easier to track--I'll be sure to right down the regular price while I'm in the store) while the grocery savings will only track savings from coupons.

This spreadsheet will help me track my total savings for the year, as well as how much I've saved from clipping coupons. It's also meant to give me a better idea of what I typically spend so that I can identify where I can cut back.

I spent a lot of money this week. But I also saved a lot. (According to my spreadsheet, I saved $47.30, to be exact.)

And that my friends, concludes a very boring blog post. (It may be boring, but I feel a strange sense of accomplishment and I'm glad I had somewhere to share it.)


  1. Anonymous2:30 PM

    You notice those people who walk around with a calculator? Does your phone have a calculator function?

  2. It sure does. That's why it was extra stupid that I thought I was buying $50 worth of stuff and it was actually $80.

  3. I actually think this is a great idea. I track my spending monthly too to see where I can cut it back (and I definitely need to)!
    I have been using coupons for the last year or so and now think anyone who pays full price for anything is nuts! I also wander down aisles and look for the sale stickers. It really does make a big difference in the long run and especially on products that you buy anyway!

    Good on you!

  4. I'm intrigued at the thought of this 'saving money' you talk about, but I'm glad it's you doing this penny pinching and not me!

    I have a couple expensive toiletry habbits that I cannot give up (LUSH).

  5. I don't think it's about giving up necessarily--it's about trying to make the same purchases you always have--only doing it better. (I guess the problem with Lush is that it's perishable, so you can't really stock up at sale time!)