Did I Really Save Money?

I often read about frugality bloggers who post about amazing savings on groceries and toiletries ($204 worth of products for $23! or $25 a week to feed a family of four!).  While I am trying to pare down our monthly grocery bill, I don’t think we’ll ever have the time or desire to get that low on grocery bills.  That leaves no room for shrimp, mussels, imported cheese and meats etc…

Truthfully I’ve been a bit suspicious of their savings on toiletries and household goods. Many will buy items they don’t need just to make extra bucks via rewards or cash back.  They claim to sell the unwanted items but what if it doesn’t sell and languishes in their pantry?  Some will give items away to friends and family. That’s nice but also means they’re not the one saving money.

Recently I bought a few toiletries from Rite Aid because of a $25 rebate offer if you purchase $50 of selected products.  On paper, this is an amazing deal. However, I decided to check my math and see if I really saved all that much.

I bought two items at full-price, something a very frugal blogger would never do.  The other four items were on sale and I had an extra $3 off coupon.  I also made the beginner mistake of buying two items that I’ve never tried before in order to get to the $50 total. (I may return it and buy something else, if I have time.)  I also find it a bit strange to stock up on face washes and cosmetics even if I will use these within the year.

For my comparison, I jotted down the regular prices for the same items at Walmart.  Their prices were $1 to $2 lower than Rite Aid.  However, with the Rite Aid sale and coupon, I spent $2 less even before rebate.

The good thing about the Rite Aid rebates is that you can submit your receipts online; within 2 – 3 days, you’ll get an email saying if you qualify for the rebate or not. If for some reason, I don’t qualify, I have time to return the items and buy something else to get to the $50 total.  I also haven’t had any issues with their rebates since they started allowing online submissions.  So if the $25 rebate goes through, I’ll spent $29 less.

In summary:

1 )  If you buy toiletries and household goods at full-price, go to Walmart or Target. 

2 ) Sales at Rite Aid and drugstores will bring it the price down to Walmart’s level or lower.  However, I’ve learned not to go out of my way for deals.  (I’ve documented by ongoing struggles with time vs. money here, here and here.)

3 ) Walmart is a  better choice if you don’t want to look for sales or worry about out-of-stock items.  As I mentioned, “frugalites” (is that a word?) will clear out the shelves on sales items. You can get a raincheck but that means another trip.  I think Walmart will match prices if you bring in the sales circular.

4 ) Rite Aid rebates can mean pretty big savings.  You have to stock up and meet requirements but it’s not a hassle like mail-in rebates.


6 responses to “Did I Really Save Money?

  1. simplelifeinfrance

    Good idea thinking about those toiletries and cleaning supplies–I find that they usually surprise me in my budgeting.

    I agree that shopping for tons of stuff on sale is a hassle and a time-waster. My current technique is to pare down the supplies I use and see if any can do double duty. THEN, with a short list of cosmetics and cleaning supplies, I can bargain shop just for those things–hopefully not too many! But it’s still an experiment.

  2. Aw, thanks for the link love! For my own purposes, I don’t really “count” the full price of an item – that’s just how the Penny Experiment does it. Before I started couponing and all that, I would pay a maximum of $3 for an okay shampoo like Aussie or Herbal Essences. Now I pay .50 maximum. I also think that for your purposes, Rite Aid is the right choice because you don’t have reward bucks that expire and therefore kind of force you to get things you don’t need just for the sake of keeping them going. That can be a real pain. They make it very easy with their rebate system to pay a net price of $0-1 for something you really want, e.g. contact lens solution, toothbrushes, cough syrup, razors, etc. even if you don’t clip a single coupon.

  3. @Simple in France: I think I have definitely gotten more selective on bargain hunting (i.e. deciding what is worthwhile).

    @MoneymateKate: You’re right that Rite Aid fits my methods better. I used to frequent CVS but their Extra Bucks system often made me buy things I didn’t need or I would let the coupon expire so didn’t really save in the end. BTW, I am amazed by your deal-hunting skills!

  4. Pingback: The Carnival of Money Stories XLV - The Sex, Lies and Videotape Edition

  5. Pingback: Goals, Finally | Oilandgarlic's Blog

  6. Pingback: Goals: Accountability | Oilandgarlic's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s