Thursday, April 07, 2011

Speed Couponing

Last night I was asked to teach a class to a group of Young Women. The theme for the event was "Relay for Life Skills" and there were 6 teachers on 6 different subjects like auto maintenance, laundry, sewing, home repair and more. The girls were divided into 6 groups and then had 5 minutes at each station to learn that skill.  Once they had been to each station to learn the skill they went around again, 5 minutes at each station, to be tested on the skill.

I was teaching how to save money on groceries.  I had five minutes to teach each group everything they needed to know.  I was really worried that I would be going too fast and that they wouldn't get it but they listened intently and did a great job on their test.  I was so proud of them!

This is my script, what I taught:

"If I gave you $10 for food how long do you think you could make that last?"
some of the answers I got were: "I could get some dinner", "I could get breakfast and lunch", one girl said she would go to McDonalds and eat all three meals off the dollar menu and still have leftover for the next day" 
"What if I told you that I have a family of six and I spend about $60 a week on groceries? (Pause as girls look at me funny while doing the math in their heads)  That is $10 per week per person in my family.  I do this by using three things. 
The first thing I use is the Sunday Paper.  I purchase the Sunday paper at the Dollar Tree on Monday mornings and from it I use the coupons and the ads (pull out coupons and ads to show the girls).  I cut out the coupons that I will likely use and I file them in my coupon wallet that I also purchased at Dollar Tree (hold up the accordian coupon wallets). 
"The second thing I use is the junk mail that comes out on Tuesdays (hold up the junk mail pile with the ads in it).  Do you all get this bundle at your house? (lots of nods) Do you guys ever look at it? (lots of no's) Well, you should look at it because inside you find the grocery ads.  Every week the grocery stores change many of their prices and the ads tell you what the prices this week are. I use these ads to compare prices between stores to decide what I will purchase and where I will shop. 
"For instance, this week on the front of the Albertsons ad near the top and in bold print is Cantaloupe for .68 cents per pound (point it out to the girls). That's looks like it might be a good deal right (lots of nods).  Well, it is kinda good during the winter to find it for that price, however if we compare that to the Saar's Marketplace we see that they have Cantaloupe on sale too and they are selling, with a coupon, 2 for $3.  
"Warning: We are going to run through some quick math here: if a cantaloupe is about 4 pounds and it costs approximately .70 cents how much for one cantaloupe? (some of the girls stared blankly while others called out the answer right away: $2.80) Yes, about $2.80. If we compare that to Saar's price of 2/$3, or $1.50 each, which is less? (most of them point to the Saar's ad) How much have we saved? (the girls give me various answers, most of the time their close.) Yes, we can save $1.30 on our cantaloupe by purchasing it at Saar's instead of  Albertsons this week. 
"The third thing I use is the internet to help me save money on groceries.  I use sites like GrocerySmarts to help me find great sales at stores (show them a printout of Albertsons sales this week from grocerysmarts.com.  Point out the 5 star sales.) I know that Easter is coming up and I need M&M's for the easter baskets--can't have easter without M&M's at our house.  I see that at Albertsons M&M's are on sale for a pretty decent price, 2/$4.  They have earned a 5 star rating with grocerysmarts.com AND grocerysmarts.com has also found that there is a coupon to save me even more money (point to column that has the coupon details).  So I go to my coupon wallet and find my coupon for Easter M&M's and I save another $1 on two bags of M&M's. 
"So now you see that I saved almost $1.50 by comparing prices between stores and I saved another .50 cents per bag of M&M's.  That is only 2 items and I have saved almost $2! How many items do you think your family buys per week? (girls say "a lot") Maybe 8-10 bags of groceries? with maybe 5-8 things per bag? (girls nod) So do the math: 50 items with about $1 savings per item is (pause) $50 in savings just by comparing prices and matching coupons using the newspaper, the junk mail and a little help from the internet. Perhaps you could do this pricing for your mom and say "Hey mom, if I save you money on groceries can we split the money you save?"  And right there you may well make yourself $25! (big smiles and giggles from the girls)
Now to take this a step further I also keep track of my favorite foods and how the prices change from week to week. What is a favorite food that you have? (someone would yell out ice cream, or pizza or pasta and I would point out in the various ads, quickly, how much they were this week and whether or not I had coupons for them) A favorite food that we have at our house is cold cereal.  This week at Albertsons, right on their front page you can see, they have cold cereal on sale.  Judging by looking at the ad would you say that $1.77 per box is a good price or a bad price (some girls stared at me and others responded good price). 
"Let me tell you how I figure out if it is really a good price.  I pull out my price list of all my most purchased foods and I find on my list cold cereal. (point to cold cereal on my price list) As you can see I will not pay more than .10 cents per ounce for cold cereal.  With that information lets do some quick math to determine if this cold cereal is a good price but first I've even got a coupon to subtract from the price.(pull out $1 off 2 boxes of GM cereal coupon) 
"The math: This coupon is $1 off two boxes which means it will now cost me only $1.27 per box of cereal. I divide that total by 10 ( .10 cents per ounce) to determine how many ounces should be in the box if it is at my price point.  I find that there has to be 12.7 ounces of cereal in the box to make that box a good enough price that I will buy it.  Now look at the ad carefully, reading the fine print, and tell me if any of the boxes of cereal are 12.7 ounces or larger. (The girls all look intently at the ad page and tell me only one cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch at 12.8 oz, hits my price point).  So this week I could buy a bunch of boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and eat them for the next few weeks at the price I am willing to pay. Next week and the week after and probably for 4-6 more weeks Cinnamon toast crunch will not be back down to this price again. This (waving and pointing to my price list) helps me to save money on everything I buy. 
"And that is how I only spend $60 week to feed my family of six using the Sunday paper, the  ads, the internet and a little bit of planning and math.  And now you can do it too."
After the presentation the girl were tested.  They had 5 minutes to "shop for" a low cost meal.  They had to choose a meat, a vegetable, a fruit and a dessert to serve for the meal.  One of the groups made a whole dinner for $2.75!! They were really listening.  I think we all had a great time.

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