Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where to shop?

I got this e-mail and honestly it brings up a good point, so I thought I'd share...

"I saw a post where you mentioned that Wal-Mart is the second most expensive store to shop at in the Valley. I have been clipping coupons, following store sales, and price matching. Almost every time Fred Meyer, Carrs or Target has an advertised sale, I have found the regular price at Wal-Mart beats the sale price or Wal-Mart is offering the same sale. I am very interested in saving money on my grocery bill (4 kids, including 3 growing boys!). I have felt like shopping at Wal-Mart has been saving me the most. Please let me know what I am missing and where I should be shopping.

Thank you.


I replied to Melissa via e-mail, but I thought that I'd address this issue here because in all honesty I do NOT mean to bash Wal-Mart as a place to shop anywhere. I mean for ME, Wal-Mart IS the second most expensive place to shop (9 times out of 10) since they went Super-Center. For instance, I buy Pringles regularly for my kids and my husband and I to snack on. Pringles are 2.00 at Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer (and God only KNOWS what Carrs would charge). They are 1.57 at Target, regular price, and better yet they are bonus packs with 25% more chips and with the 1.00/2 coupon from the Smart Source inserts I can get them for 1.07. Is it worth it to me to save .50 and get a little more food? Honestly? You bet.

Wal-Mart is regularly priced cheaper on things like deodorant and shampoo than the other stores, so I buy my shampoos and stuff there unless they are on sale somewhere else that I can get it cheaper (like the Heads and Shoulders deal I scored last week at Fred Meyer).

But, on some things I am loyal I suppose. Like Wal-Mart generic diapers are cheaper than Targets, but I buy Targets. Why? Because I LIKE the Target diapers better because they fit my kids better. And everyone's kids are different. It's all based on your own biases.

Honestly when you are looking at shopping and saving your family money you can read every deal blog in the universe, but the honest to goodness truth is that everyone's situation and experiences are different.

For instance, are you brand loyal? One of my sister-in-laws (by the way my husband is one of seven children and we have four of the sibs that are now married, my husband included, so when I start mentioning in-laws trust me...I have a lot of them *laugh*) is as into couponing as I am and has saved a LOT on her grocery bill by doing it. My other sister-in-law goes into the store every week with a list of items, most brand name items, that she does not veer from. She has found that couponing doesn't help her much at all and doesn't do it.

I mean let's face facts. I am not brand loyal. At ALL for the most part. I used to be before I discovered coupons and realized that, for instance, Always pads are consitently more expensive than Kotex ones and I could get Kotex for literally PENNIES on the dollar with coupons combined with sales. Now, since discovering coupons I have no less than four brands of pretty much anything in my cupboards at one time. I do keep brand names on a few things. My husband loves Ivory soap and will not veer from it so when I run into it on clearance or on sale I pick it up (seeing as how there are never coupons for that it seems *le sigh*).

Two, are you short on room? I literally have no closets outside of the three bedrooms in my house (why I have NO idea), so space is limited to store things, but I managed to make a pantry out of my laundry room. I literally have like cases of the Santa Cruz lemonade and teas from when they were .50 a piece with coupons a few weeks back. I have stockpiles of toilet paper, paper towels, Pull-Ups, diapers, soaps, you name it and am still stockpiling when I can get things uber cheap (since I'm still somewhat new to the world of coupons and am still getting the buy-ahead principle down). My block freezer is now full of "Smart Ones" dinners I picked up at Target yesterday for lunches (I only bought ten...I DO have things in my freezer already you know *laugh*). Have I ever had a "Smart Ones" lunch before? Heck no. But for .80 a piece, I'll eat it and if I don't like it, I'll still eat it and appreciate that it IS food. Yes, seriously, I am that cheap.

Three and perhaps most importantly, how much TIME do you have? I am a stay at home mom. I have time to sit down, sort through coupons, go through blogs upon blogs and lots of search engines looking for coupons (as much as my children will let me). I will jump on a deal for .50 cookies (which was a Target deal a while back), .67 boxes of cereal (Fred Meyer deal a while back), .50 things of Lemonade (Fred Meyer :-) and stock up as much as I can for later use, and if the item is FREE with the coupon...oh HECK yeah I'll go borrow relatives computers to get more coupons if I can do it (I have the stockpile of Mayonaise and Barbecue sauce to prove it *grin*). I also am broke enough that running all over Wasilla to hit every store I can to find as good of a deal as I can to keep my budget for groceries down (because it doesn't take much gas to literally drive for two minutes to get from store A to store B). I mean if you have stores that are not close together or if you are a mom who has kids that do not do well shopping, hitting four stores (which I DO do a lot since Walgreens has now opened) probably is not a good idea nor is it in your scope of reality.

Wal-Mart price comps if you ask them (I used to work there so I should know that part *laugh*) and so does Target now. If you have to hit one store only, I suppose hitting Wal-Mart isn't a bad idea if they are usually cheaper on the items YOU buy most. If I had to choose ONE store to shop at for my groceries, I'd have to pick Fred Meyer (and cry a bit for the lost deals at the other stores) because I have one that is literally 2 minutes away and they offer rewards when I use my Rewards Card.

So, honestly, I can't tell ANYONE where to shop. I can just post what stores have the best deals every week and you can decide for yourself.

OH and just as a side note, if you are looking for cool Wal-Mart deals (since I really don't DO Wal-Mart...mainly because I don't shop there very often), check out Alaska's Best Grocery Deals for coupon match-ups. Jessica over there is doing this INSANE amount of work to get every coupon match-up there is for Wal-Mart (which makes me want to run screaming into the night just thinking about the work involved). So, if you love shopping at Wal-Mart that is the place to be for coupon match-ups =).

And now I shall get off my soap box *looks around at empty room and the still swinging door marked "Exit"*...errr...well I guess I'll just be quiet now ;-). Later Days all!

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