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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cutting the Mustard


I know, not the best of titles but I bet it got your attention! Keep reading. I promise there is a point.

Yesterday a friend of mine made a rather humorous comment on Facebook about being in line behind a "couponer" at Kroger who was purchasing 8 bottles of mustard. This sparked a pretty interesting string of comments. I adore my friend (luv u EE) but I was all for this coupon lady who was clearly stockpiling the French's mustard that is on sale for $0.59 this week at Kroger after sales & coupons. The question arose as to why this lady couldn't just buy the Kroger mustard at the same price ($0.59) and be done with the whole ordeal without ever clipping a coupon. No, and here's why.

It's a common myth that buying the store brand is the most inexpensive and the best way to save money. As I teach in my classes, manufacturers spend big bucks promoting their products throughout the year. One of the ways they do this is by having the item on sale so that it gets face time in the weekly ad for grocery stores. The other way they promote is through coupons. When a savvy shopper combines a coupon with a sale price they will almost always be able to purchase the brand name for less than the store brand. In the case of the French's mustard. The retail price is $1.95. The Kroger brand retail price is $0.79. The couponer in question combined her coupon with the sale price to get the brand name for $0.59 or $0.20 less than the Kroger mustard. Note: If she was lucky enough to have the $0.50 coupon she would have gotten the mustard for $0.19 each.

There was also a debate about why she needed to purchase 8 (I repeat 8) bottles of mustard. First of all, we have no idea how many folks she is feeding at home. She "could" have a rather large family to provide for. Second of all, mustard has a very long shelf life. I checked a bottle today and the shelf life says is good for another 16 months. The later brings me to the concept of stockpiling. You can read more about stockpiling in my other blog post. The jist of this shopping style is that you buy enough of a product at a rock bottom price to last you until that item goes on sale again. Sale cycles typically run 6-12 weeks. If you purchase a 3-month supply at that super low price then you won't be stuck paying full retail when you run of that product in a few weeks and then a few weeks after that and so on. In the above case, this woman purchased 8 bottles of mustard for the retail price of just 2 which is a savings of $10.88 overall. The impending weather situation is another reason to stockpile.

My poor friend was stuck in line behind this mustard gal for quite some time because the lady had a rather large purchase and many coupons. Personally, I know this is me many times. I do try and let folks scoot in front of me if I see they have just a few items because I know my order will take time. However, ultimately I am doing what I know I have to do to keep my keep my family fed while saving money and I am certainly not going to apologize for that... no matter how long I hold up the line. :) I know that couponing is not for everyone but, for those who are willing, it honestly can save you big bucks. Check out my post on how I saved over $6000 in 2009. My point is, don't knock it 'til ya try it.

What are your thoughts about stockpiling and couponing in general? What is your honest reaction if you are in line behind a coupon queen like me? Inquiring minds want to know. =)
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4 comments:

Jennifer Wood said...

I saw the original posting and understand both perspecitves. The main diff is providing for a family vs. 1 person. As a single person several years back, I was also annoyed at having to wait on those crazy people. Now that I have a family to provide for and I see the time that it takes to prepare for shopping I am more understanding. I am not fabulous at the couponing things yet but I am trying and it does make a diff in what we get for the money. The mustard lady may have also not been shopping for herself but using this opportunity to purchase for a charity like the rescue mission. Couponing gives some of us the opportunity to give when we normally could not help.

Staci said...

Excellent point Jenny. I have been able to help Second Harvest Food Bank, Hope Clinic for Women and Haiti Relief through product donations. I am not currently in a position to give to those organizations financially, but I don't mind putting a little extra effort into my regular shopping so that these amazing charities can benefit. It's such a blessing to be able to give. I am also thankful for TDF providing the education and opportunities through the LP Projects.

Anonymous said...

I am new to this whole coupon stacking thing. I went to store yesterday and paid $40 for $80 worth of food. I can't wait to learn more so I save more. Thanks for your blog. I know it is time consuming for you. It is so helpful to others.

Laurhamm said...

I am loving getting back into couponing - Even though I'm single I saved 38% today- Love your tips and info!!!