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I'm all for saving money at the grocery store.  We save money in our house by a multi-faceted strategy:

  1. Clip coupons – My wife is great at cutting out coupons and we also use some of the online coupons sites as well
  2. Shop for sales – We will buy things on sale that we need this week, or if it's not immediately perishable, that we know we will use in future.  If we can combine the sale with a coupon, this is even better
  3. Buy what we can in bulk – We have a Costco membership and some things just make sense for us to buy in bulk: cans of mushroom, parmasean cheese, spaghetti sauce, granola bars and other snacks are all staples from Costco.  The key is to make sure we use everything up.

However, I think there's cases where saving money on groceries might not always be the best.  How?  Well, if you're spending excessively and buying things that you don't need or won't use.

The trigger for this article was actually a commercial that's aired a number of times over the past few months for Kroger, a national grocery store with a big presence in our area.  In this commercial, Kroger lauds their low prices (editors note: not so much), and has actual customers talk about their savings.  Most of the customers are believable, but one stands out.

She says: “I save an average of $150 per week shopping at Kroger.”

Sounds great at first, but then you think, how much is she spending to save that much money?

I'll use our most recent shopping trip to come up with some hypothetical numbers.  We didn't shop at Kroger, but for the sake of argument, we'll say that the numbers are within reason for comparison sake.

We spent $55 total.  Our savings, between buying things on sale and using coupons was $25.  Not as great as some people can get, but I think it was still pretty good.

If you multiply those numbers up, in order to save $150, you would have to spend $330.  That's not $150 off of $330, that's actually spending $330 after you took your savings.  Every week!

For a weekly grocery bill, that seems outrageous even for someone with a large family.

Those numbers would add up to annual out-of-pocket spending for groceries of $17,160.  To me, if you're spending $17k and change on groceries in a year, I would have a hard time accepting that you're really saving a lot.

Unless of course this was the Octomom or Kate Gosselin and I just didn't recognize the person speaking.  But, somehow I doubt that was the case 🙂

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