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Project Cheapskate


I really don't think of myself as really that much of a cheapskate but I do enjoy saving a buck or two when I can.  There are all kinds of coupons out there for groceries and just about everything else.  There are also tons of loyalty type programs; you know, where you carry a little card on your key ring and allegedly you save money with the program.  I really wonder if any of this is worthwhile or are we investing a lot of time as well as revealing a lot of personal information in return for very little.  I decided to track my "savings" and see just what I come up with.

There is really only one key ground rule here - for savings to be considered genuine, they must be on an item that I was going to need/get anyway - not on impulse purchases that I happened to have a coupon for.  Going out to dinner at a place you wouldn't have normally gone to anyway and getting 5 bucks off in my book is not "savings".  Buying some packaged food that you wouldn't buy otherwise and getting 75 cents or a buck off isn't "savings" either.  Getting 50 cents off on milk that I was going to buy anyway is.  Another great example is gas points that I get by using a Kroger Plus card.  With gasoline hovering in the mid 3 buck range, any savings are 100% genuine.  The same rule applies to things like the 20% off a single item coupons I regularly receive from Bed Bath and Beyond; unless the "savings" come from purchasing an essential item (like towels, bed linens or other necessary household items) I will not count them.  On the other hand if it is on a gift I was going to get anyway I will.

I also belong to loyalty programs at Dick's Sporting Goods and Auto Zone.  Again, I will only count "savings" on things (like golf grips, gloves, tees etc or oil and other essential car maintenance items).  Buying a new Under Armour shirt doesn't count.

So, how did it work out in 2013?

Let's start out with what using a Kroger Plus Card saved us - $741.01 on items that we were going to buy anyway.  These savings definitely come at a cost; my guess is that Kroger has a pretty good idea about me via my shopping habits.  For over 700 dollars I am willing to accept that trade off.

By clipping coupons for things that I would normally buy anyway we saved $85.92.  That isn't much but considering the effort is was certainly worth doing.  By utilizing Kroger's Gas Point promotion I ended up saving $47.81 in fuel costs.  Again, that might not seem like much but considering I was going to buy the fuel anyway that translates to pure savings. 

We used one Bed Bath and Beyond Coupon for 20% off when we bought a new blender that we really needed.  That transaction saved us 19.99 with no effort.  The loyalty program that really saved me money was Auto Zone.  I received $77.00 in savings as a member of their loyalty program.  Again there is a trade off - Auto Zone knows a lot about what I drive and probably even how much I drive based on what I buy to service the vehicles but in this case who cares? 

Finally by using coupons at Bath and Body Works, Halloween City and Hot Topic, we saved another $66.20 on items we would have bought anyway.

So - here's the bottom line - it is definitely worth the effort to belong to loyalty programs and to clip coupons for things you buy anyway.  Sure there's a trade off that you have to tell some of these merchants more about you than you care to at times.  The recent episode involving Target absolutely brings this to light.  Overall, I think it's worth it to take the chance.

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