I stacked shops, hitting three or four stores a night. We'd be shopping for what often felt like an eternity. The kids would be exhausted, cranky, and whining. I'd be frazzled, trying to focus on my list and coupons at the register while fending off requests for chocolate bars at midnight. I was saving money, surely, but the stress it was causing was making this brilliant idea of mine come apart at the seams.
So we tweaked it. We tried to keep it to one store. We utilized price matching. I made exhaustive lists and took detailed notes, only to be discouraged when some of the deals didn't pan out. Honestly, I got really close to giving up. But I was in too deep. I'd learned too much to go back to shopping the way I had before coupons. Paying full price for anything still makes me cringe. What I had to learn is that the sprint I was running was burning me out.
It’s about what works for you and your family
When finances get difficult, couponing can be a blessing, but there’s a very delicate balance that we are only just learning to strike. Money is not the only thing that can be spent—time, energy and gasoline are needed! These are all things my family and I have had to take into consideration over the course of the last year when we've had to budget stricter and pull the wallet tight.
Sometimes, it's about what works for you and your family, and those circumstances don't always stay the same. I started coupon shopping when it was just three of us, a cat, and two incomes. Now, there are four of us, a cat, one income, a mortgage, and me staying at home with the kids. I've tried a lot of different combinations looking for a solution that fits just right, and we're almost there. I can feel us getting close, but it's still a work in progress. For now, the thing that has saved my sanity has been Peapod.
The convenience of Peapod
I love the convenience of ordering my groceries online. I can order them from home, through my phone at the doctor's office, or on my tablet at the park. And I get to avoid the lines, the crying kids, and my own wandering eye. (I've been known to veer from my shopping list if I've pinned one too many recipes on Pinterest!) Peapod allows me to be precise and to search for the specific items I need by category. Want leafy green vegetables? There's a page for that! Plus, you're not sidetracked by those delicious looking mangos over there.
They also provide a newsletter circular and have a separate tab clearly marked for sale items. This makes it easy to get those good supermarket prices for fresh meats and produce. And because Peapod is affiliated with Stop and Shop, you can also use your frequent shopper card! This means that any app-specific sales (think SavingStar!) can be applied for money back. On the downside, because they don't provide traditional receipts, apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 are out of the question. Still, I feel that's a small concession to make, particularly because Peapod allows you to use manufacturer coupons!
Using manufacturer coupons with Peapod
It's a bit tricky, but here's how it works:
- You get sale and frequent shopper card discounts applied immediately at checkout.
- There's also a discount delivery day where they’ll take a certain amount off of your order to give you a wider window of delivery time. For instance, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, versus say 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. You can save anywhere from $2-$6 this way.
- New customers can often find coupon codes to use on sites like RetailMeNot. And Peapod itself offers free delivery for the first 90 days with an introductory code that gets sent to your email.
- Check out as you normally would. When your shipment arrives, just give your coupons to your driver. I would suggest making a note of how much the coupons are worth to avoid any loss. The driver then passes the coupons on, and the money is credited back to your preferred method of payment (generally a credit or debit card).
On weeks when things have been hectic and going to the grocery store becomes another chore I can't bring myself to get to, Peapod has proved to be the perfect compromise: convenient and still saving me money.
My advice? Do the very best you can. Look at your budget, look at your circumstances, and then check the flyers to see what you can do. Don't compare what you've done to those amazing shopping trips you sometimes see on blogs or on Facebook. Choose what's going to work for you and yours. And then go forth and save! It's not worth the burnout. In the end, any money saved is money earned.
This is a guest post by Selena from Hamden, CT.