Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Accurate Is "You Saved $$$"?

I always post the "you saved $xx.xx" printed on my receipt (although I add the value of any gift cards used as well), but what does this number really mean? Often, it means next to nothing.

This week, I bought two bottles of V-8 Fusion juice at Dominick's. The sale price was $2.99, with an additional $.50 off coupon if you spent $10 total. I also had a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off. That made each bottle $2.24. According to my receipt, I saved $4.90, $2.45 each. How? The regular price for each bottle at Dominick's is $4.69! I would never pay $4.69 per bottle. I can get bottles for $2.99 regular price at SuperTarget, or two for $5.53 ($2.77 each) at Sam's Club. If I have coupons, I usually use them at Target. If not, I buy at Sam's. So really, all I really saved was the value of the coupons.

Similarly, Jewel had Coffee-Mate on sale for $.99 this week. This was a good bargain, as it's the lowest price I see, and it only comes around every few months. Luckily, Coffee-Mate has a disturbingly long life in the refrigerator. (The ones I just bought don't expire until September!) I scrounged up some $.75 off coupons, and paid $.24 for two of them, and $.99 for the other two. My receipts say I saved $10.70 on those four bottles because the regular price is $3.29 each! I would never pay that. The regular price at SuperTarget is usually around $1.80 each, and I can generally print at least 2 coupons every month for $.75-$1.00 each. So my normal price is $.75 to $1.80 each. I certainly saved here, but nowhere near $10.70.

On the other hand, my receipts at Aldi never reflect "savings," not even sales prices. It's tough to make direct comparisons because the brands (and sometimes sizes) of products are different. However, some items are almost always cheaper at Aldi for me. My son's favorite cheese sticks are usually $2.70 at Aldi. Even at Target the cheapest comparable package is usually around $3.40. These real savings bring my grocery bills down every month.

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