Dear Jill: Something strange happened to me at the grocery store the other day. I was buying dog food, and there was a coupon pad on the shelf for $5 off any bag 7 pounds or larger. The 20-pound bag was $22.99, and the 7-pound bag was $8.99.
I did the math and figured that with the coupon, I would buy 7 pounds for $3.99, working out to 57 cents per pound. If I used the $5 coupon on the large bag, I would pay $17.99 for 20 pounds, or about 89 cents per pound.
I took three coupons and put three bags in my cart. Another shopper picked up the big bag of the same dog food, adding it to his cart. I pointed out the coupon on the shelf and told him the best deal was to buy the smaller bags.
He shrugged, ignored the coupon and continued shopping. Why would anyone ignore an easy deal like this? I was baffled! - Nancy E.
As strange as it sounds to those of us who have made saving money a lifestyle, not everyone is interested in saving money at the supermarket. I can't begin to count how many times I have done something similar: tried to share an extra coupon with a shopper, pointing out an instant savings offer, or simply trying to point out which size of the same brand is the better buy, only to be rebuffed.
Last week at my local supermarket, I was stocking up on 12-packs of soda for a family cookout. The soda was on sale for $4.99 per pack, or four for $10. However, you had to buy four to receive the better price.
As I was adding my 12-packs to my cart, a woman on a mobility scooter came up and asked if I would help put some soda in her cart as well. I said I would be happy to, and I asked which kind she wanted. After adding two packs, she waved her hand to stop me from getting another off the shelf and said, "That's enough." I pointed out that the soda 12-packs were $4.99 each, or four for $10.
"If you only buy two, you're missing out on getting two more packs free," I said, pointing at the sale tag on the shelf.
"But I don't want four packs!" she stated firmly, and she continued shopping.
I've seen things like this enough times to understand that, for whatever reasons, some people won't take advantage of a deal, even if it's right in front of them. The woman I met in the aisle could easily have bought four packs of cola, then asked the clerk to put the two free ones into the food pantry donation bin by the store's exit doors - or gifted them to the next shopper in line.
People are free to shop however they'd like, but after spending over a decade as a devoted coupon user, I can't imagine going back to shopping any other way. People without a couponing mindset have at times said to me that couponing or sale-shopping "only saves just a few dollars here and there." Those dollars quickly add up though. I save hundreds of dollars every month by shopping the sales, stocking up on low-priced items and avoiding paying full price whenever possible.
Hundreds of dollars per month add up to thousands of dollars saved each year. The first year that I became an avid coupon user, I kept track of every dollar saved, both with coupons and sale-shopping. Those dollars have been spent on everything from vacations, to school tuition, to nice dinners out with our family. I wouldn't trade the benefits those "few dollars" have made in our family's life.
It is perplexing when other people decline to take advantage of the discounts easily available to them, but continue on your own savings path. I still love the feeling I get when I find a particularly great deal on something - it's a thrill to save, even if it's a few dollars at a time.