Sunday, November 16, 2008


A big part of any frugalista's shopping and eating strategy can be coupons. I say "can be" because it will depend a lot on what you eat, where you live, and the stores that you have.

I used to use coupons fairly frequently. Lately, however, it seems like there is very little payback for the amount of effort I put into it. I keep reading blogs that say how important coupons are, but I'm not seeing it.

So I made a decision. For one month, I would go through the coupons in my paper and list them ALL, and note which ones we'd use and which ones we wouldn't. Great idea, right? Except there were more than 130 in today's paper. So maybe this week will be it. Here's what we had in the LA times this week:

Item Amount Use
Colgate toothpaste $1.00 yes
Suave haircare 1.00 on 2 yes
Country crock tub margarine 1.00 on 2 yes
Newman's own variety $0.50 yes (salsa)
lipton tea bags 1.00 on 2 maybe
Entemann's $1.00 maybe (hubby has a weakness)
Progresso broth $1.00 maybe, depends on price
Fresh express Salad $0.75 maybe, depends on price
Del monte vegetables 1.00 on 2 maybe, depends on price
Welch's dried fruit $1.00 maybe, depends on price
foil $1.00 maybe, depends on price
Del monte fruit, veg, tomato 1.00 on 4 maybe, depends on price
olives $0.50 maybe, depends on price
Ragu pasta sauce 1.00 on 2 maybe, depends on price
Star vinegar $0.50 maybe, depends on price
Da vinci pasta $0.50 maybe, depends on price
Lawry's mixes 1.00 on 3 maybe, depends on price
B&V wine $2.00 maybe, depends on price
Daisy sour cream $0.50 maybe, depends on price
Durkee seasoning 1.00 on 2 maybe, depends on price
Star Olive Oil $0.50 maybe, depends on price
Blue ribbon rice $0.25 maybe, depends on price
Quaker oats 1.00 on 2 maybe, depends on price, oats are $0.99/lb in bulk
Salad dressing 1.00 on 2 maybe, depends on price, processed though
Pam $0.35 maybe, store brand cheaper
Non-dairy creamer $0.55 no
Schick razors $1.00 no
Hershey kisses $1.50 no
Tone's seasoning $1.00 no
Simply saline mist $1.00 no
Balsam hair color $1.00 no
paper plates $0.35 no
Batteries $0.75 no
Dinosaur toy $3.00 no
lint brush $1.00 no
Scotch brite sponge $0.50 no
Colman's mustard $0.50 no
Dog hair remover $2.00 no
Sunsilk hair products 2.00 on 2 no
Lever 2000 soap 1.00 on 4 no
Wisk 1.00 on 2 no
Caress body wash $1.00 no
M&M premium $1.00 no
Sugar, raw $0.40 no
Suave men's haircare 1.00 on 2 no
Jello 1.00 on 3 no
Baileys Irish crème $2.00 no
Jetdry dishwasher cleaner $1.00 no
Delsym cough syrup $2.00 no
Delsym kids' cough $1.50 no
tums $1.00 no
Electrasol gelpaks $0.50 no
Jetdry $0.50 no
Blistex $0.25 no
Gaviscon $1.00 no
Tagamet $1.00 no
Target holiday photos various no
Phazyme $1.00 no
GM cereals $1.00 on 3 no (all sugary cereals)
Electrasol powder $0.35 no (buy generic)
Scott tissue $0.75 on 4 no (buy in bulk)
Scott paper towels 1.00 on 4 no (buy in bulk), but worth a try?
Frigo cheese $0.50 no (cheaper at costco by a few dollars a pound)
Sargento shredded cheese 1.00 on 2 no (cheaper at costco by a few dollars a pound)
Revlon tools $1.00 no (don't wear makeup)
Revlon makeup $1.00 no (don't wear makeup)
Uncle Ben's rice mixes 1.00 on 3 no (processed)
Country crock side dishes $1.00 no (processed)
turtles $1.50 no (processed)
Reddi whip $0.50 no (processed)
Poppycock caramel corn $0.50 no (processed)
Bahlsen cookies $0.50 no (processed)
Bisquick $0.60 no (processed)
Fiber 1 bars $0.70 no (processed)
Betty crocker cookie mix $0.40 no (processed)
White Castle burgers $0.50 no (processed)
Pillsbury biscuits $0.40 no (processed)
Betty crocker boxed potatoes $0.35 no (processed)
Pillsbury dinner rolls $0.75 on 2 no (processed)
chewy granola bars $1.00 on 2 no (processed)
Lipton soup mix 1.00 on 2 no (processed)
Knorr side dishes 1.00 on 3 no (processed)
Lee Kum Kee foil pack sce $0.75 no (processed)
Tyson cooked bacon $0.55 no (processed)
OreIda frozen potatoes $1.00 no (processed), Target only
Chuck E Cheese various no (restaurant not here)
Boston Market various no (restaurant not here)
Souplantation various no (restaurant not here)
Green Gnt Froz veg stmrs $1.00 no (store brands always cheaper)
Advil cold $1.00 no (store brands always cheaper)
Green Giant Froz boxed veg $0.50 no (store brands always cheaper)
True north nut snacks $1.00 no (too expensive, I buy nuts in bulk)
Meow mix $1.00 no pets
Purina dog snacks $3.00 no pets
Dog food $3.00 no pets
Pedigree dog treats $1.00 no pets
Suave deodorant 1.00 on 2 no, brand loyal
Vaseline lotion $1.50 no, brand loyal
Ajax dishwashing soap $0.20 no, brand loyal
Huggies diapers $1.00 no, buy in buik
cottonelle $0.25 no, buy in buik
Loreal hair color $1.00 no, don't color
Best foods mayo 1.00 on 2 no, it expires before we could go through that much
Vivid laundry detergent $0.50 no, Purex loyal
Earth grains bread $0.55 no, store brands cheaper
Lawry's spice $1.00 no, too expensive
Hillshire farms cocktail links 1.00 on 2 no, we don't eat this
Betty crocker frosting $0.50 only on a birthday
Beano $1.00 probably should!
Advil $1.00 rare
Oil of olay cleanser $1 to $5 sometimes (I'm getting older)
Mrs. Dash $0.75 this stuff is expensive, even on sale
Spice islands spices 1.00 on 2 too expensive. Buy no name.
Tabasco $0.50 we don't go through this very often
video game $10.00 we don't have any
Oral B brush heads $1.00 we use free toothbrushes from the dentist
Sugar 0.35>2 lb we're good on sugar for awhile

Whew. As you can see, there are very few (4) coupons that we would definitely use. There are many more that I would consider - depending on the price. I'd say 80% of the time, the store brand is cheaper. And most of these items have unadvertised sales. This means I actually have to spend the time at the stores from time to time, and check on these items each time that I go. This takes quite a bit of time.

Also, only one of our stores double coupons anymore. Ralphs will only "round up" to one dollar for anything over 50 cents.

Much of the food coupons are for processed foods, which might be cheaper but are unhealthy with a lot of salt and preservatives. We don't eat those.

So is my time worth those 4 coupons? I'm thinking maybe not. Now I can cancel the newspaper.

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