Friday, April 11, 2008

Shopping Saturday

I recently spoke to another mom who said she was working in a warehouse four nights a week to cover expenses her husbands check didn't cover, like "you know, diapers, birthday parties." Birthday party gifts I'll save for another post.

But this week I brought home 3 weeks worth of diapers at CVS for nothing, and that feels really good. Sometimes I wonder if the time I spend clipping coupons and haunting the aisles of CVS are not worth what I get back, but then I remind myself that this woman is out there sleep depriving herself to buy the diapers. I got the diapers, and although it took some work, I was able to do a lot of that work with my kids in tow.

But first, the groceries:

This week I actually stayed within our grocery budget -- not counting alcohol. I spent $80 on food and another $20 on a bottle of wine and a 12-pack of beer.

Actually, I could rationalize this by pointing out that I spent $20 on a discounted nitrate-free ham which we won't eat until next week. So if I lend that $20 to next week's budget, you could say I stayed under. I am also thinking about a plan for buying a little beer, wine and spirits while sticking to the budget. So far, the plan involves buying a case of 2-buck Chuck next time we're at Trader Joe's, and getting more free or bartered beer from my home-brewing brother.

Shopping Trip 1: Jewel on Monday

spent: $55

bought: A lot of good deals on meat (I consider a good deal anything at $2.50 a pound or less, and all of these were.): Four pounds of chicken breasts (bogo), the ham, 1.5 pounds italian sausage. Some broccoli, some asparagus, 2 gallons skim milk and a 1/2 gallon organic whole milk,  and 2 jars of spaghetti sauce (which were on sale of course and I needed for a mail-in rebate on my mom's purchase of "101 Dalmations." Except of course now I can't find the receipt Mom gave me.)

Trip 2: Dominick's on Wednesday

spent: $45

bought: 2 cans organic diced tomatoes, 2 cause organic tomato sauce, 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 2 boxes whole wheat spaghetti, 1 gallon skim milk, 1 pack string cheese, 1 pound butter, 1.37 pounds green beans, 4 pounds navel oranges, 1 bottle Red Bicyclette Syrah and one 12-pack Goose Island beer.

As you can see, I drink a lot of milk. Not only do I like it, but since I have now spent more than three years of my life breastfeeding I feel like it is really important. I do take one calcium/vitamin D supplement a day, but the recommended dose is 3 tablets. I don't take 3 because you are supposed to take them separately and I have better things to do than run to the medicine cabinet 3 times a day. Because I'm too busy running to CVS three times a day, heh.

And here are my CVS transactions for the week:

  1. three 40-packs of Huggies (these last us about 1 week each) (paid $10ECB)

  2. $25 in Aveeno products: one baby shampoo/wash, one creamy babywash, 3 small lotion tubes, one box oatmeal bath packets (paid $10ECB)

  3. two tubs Cover Girl foundation (paid $12ECB)

  4. 1 Swiffer Duster kit and one refill pack for the Swiffer Sweeper, and a 4-pack of rechargeable AAA batteries (paid $10ECB)

  5. 2 more tubs of Cover Girl foundation, 4 CVS brand tylenols (two double packs, 24-ct each) and 1 CVS brand floss (paid $21ECB)

  6. 1 more tub of Cover Girl foundation, plus $20 worth of other Cover Girl stuff (pressed powder, 2 concealers, 1 lip gloss, shade of "Hipster") (paid $16ECB)

  7. 3 bottles Febreeze and 2 Zooth children's toothbrushes (one will be Pebbles' first) (paid $7ECB)

Total out of pocket expenses: $9.04 (that is high for me BUT I actually came out ahead on cash AND ECBs, see below.)

Total ECBs spent: $73

Total ECBs earned: $86

It appears that I got paid $4 to shop at CVS this week. But there's something I haven't told you. When did the third Cover Girl transaction (I use my mother's account as well as mine so I was able to surpass the limit of 3 Cover Girl foundations) I was overcharged. My local CVS had put the foundation on sale for $6.88, down from $9.49. I went back the next day and talked to my favorite checker, the same one who had rung it up the night before. She immediately did a return and gave me a cash card for $10.34. Then she asked me if I still wanted the item.

Now, I usually don't return stuff I've bought just for the ECBs because it just doesn't seem ethical to me. You buy the thing, they give you a cash rebate, and then you return it and pocket the rebate. I honestly can't believe it even works. And besides, if I am there all the time returning stuff, the staff at my local store will no longer like me or be super helpful with making sure all my coupons go through.

But in this case, since it would have been more work for her to ring up the item again, I felt OK saying no, I don't really want it. So now instead of being out $9 cash for the week, I have a debit card showing $9.52 (I used just under a buck on my last transaction.)

But for my own crazy accounting system, I will "charge" myself the $9 cash spent this week, and consider all the purchases I make with the debit card to be $0 out of pocket. 

In addition to manufacturers' coupons, I used a $4/$20 coupon for each transaction except the last one (I got this from adding an email address to my husband's CVS account), and for most of them I also used a $5/$25, which keeps printing out nearly every time I buy something.

I had to call CVS to get the ECBs for the CVS-brand tylenol and the batteries. The batteries rang up $14.99 and the receipt said I still had to buy 1 cent worth of batteries. You know, from the penny battery bin. The lady on the phone fixed it for me and I hope to see those ECBs print out soon.

If I can get to CVS today, I am going to get some more Excedrine (free plus $1ECB w/ mc) because although it's a monthly deal the sale is right now and I don't want to miss it.

Monthly stuff I want to buy:

more CVS-brand tylenol

lots of Softsoap body wash

Heinz vinegar