Is it worth your time to shop at more than one store for your grocery and household items?
It was worth it for me this week!
All of the men's products in the picture above (two body washes and four antiperspirant/deoderants) set me back a grand total of 41 cents. Yup, six toiletry items for 41 cents. And it didn't take me very long to find the deal, print the coupons, and stop at Walgreens (I'm estimating about 20 minutes total).
Is it worth it every week? And for everyone? Nope. Some weeks it's not worth my time or my gas money.
I used to be very anti-multiple-stop-shopping. It wasn't worth it to me to drag 3-4 kids in and out of multiple stores "just to save a few bucks." However, I've changed my tune in the last year or so. First of all, my kids are older now, so I can generally take just one child (or none at all!) along on my grocery shopping trips. Second of all, I've realized that the savings gained by making multiple stops is much more significant than "a few bucks." For instance, if I had paid full price for the toiletry items I purchased, I'd have shelled out $26.94. Even if I could have gotten the same items on sale at Meijer (my regular, once-a-week trip) and used a few coupons there, I probably would have spent at least $15.00.
There are a few things to take into consideration when deciding whether that extra stop is worth your time (and your gas money):
Most important: Make sure the item you are stopping for is something that you really will need and use. This is an absolute requirement for me to make an extra stop. For instance, it's not worth it to me to make that extra stop to pick up a free bottle of aspirin, because we take acetaminophen for headaches, not aspirin.
You might also want to stop if:
- The deal is really good...in other words, free, or almost free.
- There is more than one great deal available at the store. Yesterday at Walgreens, I didn't just get fresh-smelling men's products, I also stocked up on cheap jellybeans.
- The extra stop is near or on the way to another errand you need to run. For instance, Walgreens, Target, and Aldi are all near the Jenison Meijer, and there is a RiteAid on the way to my sister-in-law's house. If you shop the Grandville Meijer, then Walgreens and Costco are close by.
- You have few children (or none at all) along with you. Or if you happen to have five or more very well-behaved children that like to stop multiple places.
So when is it NOT worth your time and gas money? (this is just my opinion, so you might disagree!)
- The store is way out of your way or across town.
- You're short on time (aren't we all!)
- You're not familiar with the store (although the only way to get familiar with a store is to try shopping there a few times!)
- You are accompanied by multiple young children (exception: your kids love to go away and you don't mind hauling them in and out of the vehicle an extra time or two).
- The deal is complicated...for instance, you have to watch videos before you can print the coupons, it involves a mail-in-rebate, or is connected to a point-earning system. (I'm sure there are some faithful RiteAid shoppers out there who will disagree with me, but their coupons, point system, and other programs seem much too complicated and time-consuming to me).
One last condition: Don't drive yourself (or your minivan) crazy by trying to get all the deals every week. (Five stops in one week? Probably not worth it.) If you miss a great deal this week, you'll probably make up for it with a different ~ and maybe even better ~ deal the week after.
Do you shop at more than one store? How much can you save by making an extra stop?