A question from a reader:
I just finished reading “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey.” I have to say I was so motivated by the saving that the Krazy Coupon Lady’s experienced. So my question is, Is saving that extreme only possible at civilian supermarkets, or can we really coupon and save that much at our own commissaries? Please help inquiring minds in Jax, FL would love to know?
I haven’t read the book, but I did see Joanie on the Extreme Couponing show so I have a pretty good idea of what she is saving on groceries.
The fast answer to this question is no, you can’t save that much at the commissary.
You can spend less at your commissary.
I have not shopped at every commissary or every civilian store, but it has been my experience that most regular priced items at the commissary are cheaper than civilian stores.
When it comes to sales, BOGO’s and double coupons, civilian grocery stores beat the commissary most of the time.
If you are familiar with the commissary coupon policy you know that they don’t double coupons and only occasionally offer BOGO’s. They do run sales every two weeks, but they don’t have penny items, register rewards or even coupons that print on your receipt.
Because civilian stores do offer these incentives it is possible to save more on your groceries… but saving more doesn’t mean spending less. Since this reader lives in Jacksonville, Florida I’ll compare a few items that are on sale this week at Publix with the same items at the commissary. I’ll throw some coupons in the mix too, although these coupons might not all be available in real life.
Ball Park Franks
- Publix BOGO – Buy two for $4.49
- Commissary- $1.29 each
- Let’s assume we had a $1/2 coupon.
- Your final price for 2 packs of Ball Park Franks is $3.49 at Publix.
- Commissary final price $1.58.
- On your receipt from Publix you would have saved $5.49 but on the commissary receipt you only saved $1.
- You saved more at Publix, but spent less at the Commissary. Even if you shopped at a store that doubled coupons you would have paid less at the commissary.
Kraft Salad Dressing
- Publix BOGO – Buy two for $3.39
- Commissary Sale Price $1.60 each
- Coupon $1/2
- Publix Final Price $2.39 for two
- Commissary Final Price $2.20 for two
If your store doubled you would spend less buying the salad dressing at Publix.
Bush’s Baked Beans
- Publix 3/$5
- Commissary $1.33 each or $3.99 for 3
Since this reader lives in Florida where they do not double coupons I think she will spend less overall shopping at the commissary. The commissary is almost always cheaper on produce, dairy, and meat unless you are comparing those items to loss leaders at a civilian store.
Just because she would spend less overall at the commissary doesn’t mean she shouldn’t shop the deals at her local stores. I recommend keeping a price book to make sure it is really a great deal. Keeping a price book will also keep track of prices on non sale items, you never know- your local store might be cheaper on a few things.
The fact is, there isn’t much extreme couponing going on at the commissary. Even if you have a coupon for every single item you probably aren’t going to walk out of there paying only a few dollars for a cart full of groceries. That doesn’t mean you can’t save by shopping there… you’ll just save more shopping at your local store.
The bottom line is that for many of these extreme couponers it isn’t about buying things they need, it is about the thrill of the deal. Most of them have admitted they LOVE finding deals and will do just about anything to get an item for free (or even get paid for buying it).
I don’t think it is wrong to want to save and find deals, but the bottom line is you need to buy groceries to feed your family. One hundred packs of free toilet paper, candy bars and sports drinks do not feed your family!
Stock up when there is a sale, keep a modest stock pile, search for the best deal, but in the end remember that you need to buy food to feed your family three meals a day. Vegetables, meat, milk, and other items that don’t often have available coupons are all items you need to consider in the final equation.
Many of the coupons today are for processed food which are not the healthiest and cheapest food for your family. You can often spend less on your groceries by preparing from scratch meals with whole foods. Whole foods that are often cheaper at the commissary.
So while there is nothing wrong with wanting to emulate all those extreme couponers out there, remember to think about your total monthly grocery bill instead of just the super coupon deals. Use the techniques taught by the extreme couponers to save on items you need at your local store, then do the rest of your shopping at the commissary.
Image source: Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn