Wal-Mart related anxiety, I did go through with my promise to test out couponing at the retail giant. And let me just request, ahead of time, please, no hating on me because I go to Wal-Mart. Because I do. Go to Wal-Mart. You know what else we have in town? A Walgreen's and a couple of large chain grocery stores, and a couple of independent pharmacies where you can buy a tube of Chap-Stick for $10.95. Plus, this is Arkansas,
home of Wal-Mart and the Walton family, so it's kind of ubiquitous. So back off already; I'd like to maintain my blog's troll-free status. Click image for a legible version.
I'll do this backward, and give you my conclusion first, and then explain myself: I consider my Wal-Mart couponing experience a success, and I think with practice and timing it could come pretty close to my grocery percentages (although, I have recently
hit 51% savings on groceries). At first blush, it doesn't seem as impressive, but there are several mitigating factors involved. I saved a total of 28% off of my Wal-Mart purchases, and here are my excuses for the percent saved not being higher:
In the first place, the things you opt to buy at Wal-Mart (or Target, or K-Mart, or whatever you have in your area), instead of at the grocery store, are expensive things, and you choose a big-box store because these items are generally cheaper than they are at the grocery store. You know, stuff like laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, deodorant, shampoo, makeup, pantyhose, razorblades, pet food...you get my drift.
Another reason I chose to take my coupons for these items to Wal-Mart, besides the base price of the items in question being lower (and even if they weren't, Wal-Mart will honor ANY competitor's sales circular), is that the grocery stores here will only "double" coupons up to 60 cents' face value. The more expensive items have higher-value coupons, so it doesn't pay, so to speak, to use them at the grocery store, if you're only going to get face-value for them anyway.
If you click on the photo, you can enlarge the receipt and see exactly what I bought (Hey! 14-cent bananas!), and the coupons that were redeemed. I've marked, with flickr notes, the only three items for which I did not have coupons: koi pond food (the fish gotta eat), Hanes socks for Bella, and a pack of gum. What can I say? I'm weak. Also, I had coupons for FREE Iams tartar-control dog treats (kind of like "Greenies") that my dogs love, but they were out of stock on the small size that the free coupons were for, and I was unable to resist buying the larger-size treats, for which I had $2-off coupons. At three packages, that was a $9 splurge that was not strictly neccessary. Again, weak. But I'm proud, once more, that we did not buy one thing that was not on our list (aside from my gum, but I'M ENTITLED TO SOMETHING, PEOPLE), and that we had coupons for all but THREE items purchased. Pretty good, I think.
I may try Walgreen's sometime this weekend, because they have a circular out containing some MEAN buy-one-get-one deals, and store coupons, AND they just come on out and invite you, in writing, to also bring along your manufacturer's coupons, to increase your savings! And they've got a cool-looking rebate program I have yet to investigate. Oh, and because Shash asked, I also posted a few pics of the 600-picture photo album I'm using to organize my coupons, in a special flickr set. And if you are interested in this, you are my geeky compadre.