Savings Challenge Conclusion

At the beginning of this year I took my husband’s challenge to keep track of how much money we saved this year by using coupons.  It was hard at times, especially towards the end.  But I did it!

I kept track of any savings from using manufacturer’s coupons, extra care bucks, register rewards, catalinas and rebates.  I did not include savings from taking advantage of a store discount or sale prices.  In total my savings to date were : $6,471.80.  I also kept track of the cost I incurred in getting coupons when I purchased the newspaper or traded for coupons.  That total is: $172.93 for the year.  That’s less than 3% of the total savings I enjoyed.

For 2009 I will keep using coupons of course. Since I have a nice stockpile of things I will be cherry picking deals. As a matter of fact I “burnt” all of the extra care bucks I had this weekend.  I used it to buy the clearance wrapping paper I needed.  I don’t feel bad though.  Shopping at CVS is not easy for me because there is not a local store so I will stick to Walgreens.  I do very well there anyways.

There was a time when I thought using coupons was a waste of time.  A year of couponing has changed my mind.  I learned that there are coupons for the things that I need if I look for them.  There are winetags to save on meat or produce.  There are catalinas to help me save on my whole order.  There is also just plain overage to use to pay for my groceries.  This guest post by Beeb is one of my favorite posts that explains this well.

I won’t lie to you, couponing does take some time.  Let’s say that I spent 10  hours a week clipping coupons and getting deals.  My hourly wage was $11 an hour.  For a stay at home like me that’s money easily earned from the comfort of my home.  If I was working I would consider this the wage earned from a second job, except that this one you can do from home and while you take care of your shopping. That makes couponing worth it for me.

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  • Christina Albea

    How did you track your savings? Did you do so via an Excel doc. or something similar. I would like to tackle this myself in the coming new year as a way to see just how much my hard work at finding deals pans out cost wise in savings.

  • I absolutely agree with your conclusion. I did not keep track of my savings like you did but I had the same type of experience. And I am grateful. This was my first year for couponing too, and I know that helped us through some very lean times that we were not expecting, like 7 months where our two rental properties had non-paying renters! The fact that I had learned to be frugal really helped keep us from sinking under that weight.

  • Kay

    I am also wondering about how you keep track of things. For example . . . I go to Walgreens, say I spend $32.00 on items that will be free after rebate, less $5 coupons, for a total of $27 spent. I send in to Walgreens for the $32 rebate. Because I filed my Walgreens rebate on line, I can now send in for a manufacturer rebate on a a car air freshener for $4.99, and a manufacturer rebate on, lets say, orajel for $8.00. And to top it off I get my Walgreens rebate on a gift card, so I get an extra 10%. And I had $20 in register rewards from robitussin to put towards my initial $27 expenditure. How did I do on this deal? And how do I keep track of it all! I’m so confused. LOLOL Any help would be appreciated. I’m sure there are many like me who are planning to track such things in 2009.

  • Kathleen

    This was my first year of couponing also and all I can say is WOW!!! I can’t believe I used to pay full price for items that I now get for free or cheap!!! My husband has challenged me to keep track in 2009 so we get a better idea of year end OOP and total savings. If you would be willing to share how you kept track I would be so grateful for someplace to start (rather than a big envelope of receipts…LOL). Thanks for all your help finding deals; You have a great blog!!! Happy New Year, may it be full of health, happiness and great deals 🙂

  • Julie

    Another novice couponer here. I got serious about coupons this year, too.
    Thank you for sharing these results. It’s so good to have something in black and white to show those folks who just don’t think coupons are worth the effort.
    I would also be interested in how you tracked these savings.

  • MaryCatherine

    I am much like the ladies above, I would love to know the tool that you used. I am planning on starting to keep track of my spending this coming year. As I emailed you a week ago I am getting married and couponing is going to help me save money so I can have the wedding of my dreams! Having an idea of what you used to track will help so much!

  • Heidi

    My goal for 2009 is to keep track of everything- I just started couponing and shopping the deals in November and it’s looking like in January we will be enjoying a $600 reduction in our food/household budget. That seems like a TON of savings, so I’m curious as to what an entire year would look like! 🙂
    Couponing does take time, but I told my husband that it was my second job since if I went out and got a second one, we’d be paying the entire amount to daycare!

  • Celeste

    This has inspired me to figure out how much I’m saving… just out of curiosity! I might not survive tracking the whole year, but even a month will give me a rough estimate on yearly savings because right now I don’t really know how much I’m saving–I only know how much I’m spending.

  • Hi Guys,

    I wish I could say I had a sophisticated method but I just kept a running total by date based on my receipts.
    Every time I went shopping, or once a week at least (I kept my receipts), I would add how much I saved on my shoping trips based on store and manufacturer coupons. I only added what was deducted on my receipt. I didn’t deduct register rewards or extra care bucks until I actually used them.
    For the walgreens rebates I added every month the amount that I got uploaded on my card.
    So taking Kays Example: let’s say I bought $32 worth of items and used $5 in manufacturer coupons plus $10 in RRS. From that receipt I have saved $15 in coupons. Then when I get the rebate I add the $35 (32+10%) I get from the rebate uploaded on my card. This makes sense to me because if I don’t take time to submit the rebate then I don’t save that amount of money. If this is too confusing what you can do is either keep track of rebates separately, after all it is time you spent submitting them and should be accounted for.

  • Leslie

    I am sure this is a stupid question, but I was wondering what a winetag is? There aren’t any cool stores that double coupons around here…only Hyvee and Walmart. =) I’ve just never heard of that before and was wondering.

    I’m going to try keeping track this year!!

    Thank you Mercedes,


  • r

    i have been keeping track of coupons used since september. but there are things that i would not have bought, like the 4 free luminairs i got from target last month. i counted those in the coupon total, but im wondering if you include things like this. stuff you normally wouldnt buy, but got an excellent deal.

  • Kathleen

    Here is an excel spreadsheet I made for 2009 to use. I figure at the end of the year, each column can be summed and I will have my totals.
    Let me know if anyone sees something that should be added or changed.


  • Wow! You did a GREAT job couponing. I’ve exceeded the $1,000 mark (need to check total tally), which I thought was pretty good considering we don’t have a Kroger or CVS within four hours of here!

    I truly believe couponing pays off. It PAINS me to buy something without a coupon now.

    P.S. Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing your spreadsheet!

  • Tiffany

    @ Albea,

    I myself use Quicken Home, I bought my version several years ago and have just never upgraded. I created a seperate catergory for coupons and process my reciepts by each item. It seems like a lot of work, but since 9/1/08 we’ve saved $2195 with coupons, $358 is ECB, $210 in RR & $146 in rebates.

  • How inspiring! I have tracking my savings as a goal for 2009 and will use this post as part of my motivation. 🙂 Kathleen, thanks so much for sharing your spreadsheet. I will likely use that or one that Andrea at Mommy Snacks recently posted. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

    Mercedes, was your husband excited to hear your totals?

    @Christina — I am with you on the pain of purchasing at retail! LOL

  • @Leslie –

    Winetags are the most wonderful kind of coupon imaginable!There are different types: when you buy $ off or no purchase necessary $off. Obviously, the NPN tags are better, but the WYB S$off are nice too – sometimes, I find WYB $ off tags, AND a rebate for the wine as well. That really sweetens the deal! I have gotten more free meet and cheese this way, it really is nice! Comb your wine department and look for some.

  • I love how you kept track of all couponing savings for 2008. Shows just how much you can save my using those coupons. Even for those who are not as dedicated and careful as the couponistas, given your fabulous total – others could easily “find” money and savings in the thousands of dollars too! Thanks for the wonderful tips and website.

  • Great savings, Mercedes. Mine was nearly the same (that is too weird). I track the same info too – it just makes me have a tangible result (and all the work is paying).

    I posted a few savings documents in case others want to use them. They are pretty straight forward and are what I used to track savings and work out lists/scenarios.

    Happy New Year!!

  • Amy

    I showed my husband this post, and he was shocked by the savings. He knows I save A LOT by using coupons, but to see a year’s worth is very cool. My family and I are aching to go back to Disney World within the next couple years (we went for the first time in 2007 and had the most amazing time!!), and if I can not only track my savings but put the money in a savings account, it might be possible. We’ll see! Thanks so much for your dedication and hard work on this site!! Have a blessed 2009.

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