The local newspaper brought me the bad news---Ameren Missouri's raising the rates on their electricity by 10 percent starting Jan 1st. And Ol' Man Winter decided to join in the fun too. We'd had relatively mild temps thus far but as soon as the price hike came the forecast changed to below normal temps and nights in the single digits. Since I'm not a member of Congress, I'll actually need to do some jostling in the budget to deal with the higher cost of heat.
I've mentioned before that I don't live in Double Coupon Land. The one store that does double is 13 miles away and only doubles the first 15 coupons 50 cents and under. I figure round trip will use up 1 gallon of gas so it would cost me $3.15 to save $7.50. In fact distance has been the issue in my missing several bargains at the grocery store. My local paper carries ads for 5 grocery stores in nearby towns ranging from 3 to 14 miles away. In the past I would combine trips to close stores (Schnucks and Aldi's are near each other) or stop when we had nearby activities (Country Mart is near Schnickelfritz's Royal Ranger's meetings). But the truth is I don't like to make 3-5 trips to different stores every week just to take advantage of their loss leaders.
Thankfully Walmart (which is actually my closest store) has fully embraced their "We'll match any advertised price" policy. Now I go through each store's ad and compare their sales to my price book (the subject of a whole other post). If it's a stock up price, I'll circle it in the ad and write it on my shopping list. I like to make the list on a spreadsheet so I can sort by grocery aisle (making me more efficient in the store). Most of the stores in my area are not part of a national or even regional chain. They all share the same generic brand--Best Choice, and most of their sale items involve this generic. Walmart will price match generics and in-store labels with their own Great Value brand. Here's an example from my Thanksgiving dinner shopping trip.
If I've got a lot of price matching to do, I'll try to go during non-peak hours. In this case I was at the store at 6:30 on a Saturday morning before Thanksgiving. I take the shopping list and my circled grocery fliers with me to the store. Walmart doesn't require you to bring in the competitor's ads-- they usually have copies, but having the items already circled helps to find them faster and just keeps the check out line moving along. When I pick something off the shelves I'm very careful where I stick it in the cart. I try to keep each store's loss leaders together so I can show the cashier all the sales in one flier at the same time.
Apparently I'm not the only one doing this either--someone had already changed Walmart's computers to match Schnuck's turkey sale although it wasn't reflected on the price tag or the freezer case. The cashier didn't ask to see the Aldi's flier and already knew the sales prices for the potatoes.
So how did I do? You'll note I left a column to write in Walmart's regular price. It's not necessary, but sometimes it nice to see what you've accomplished. A few things to notice--Walmart's price on green beans was already lower that the competitor's sale price so sometimes you don't want to price match. Also, Walmart only had two bottles of my husbands flavor of salad dressing. I didn't actually need to buy three to match the 3 for $5 sale, the cashier figured out the cost per bottle and used that figure for the price.
My 20 minutes of scouring other ads saved me nearly $40! Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette used to figure the hourly worth of a task to see if the savings was worth the time and effort of doing it. Price matching, in this case, works out to $120 per hour--I'd say definitely!!! And there doesn't seem to be a limit. During Christmas shopping Walmart matched the price of a Cabela's hunting video game that another store had for $35 less. The cashier had to call a manager over for the price override but no one disputed the sales flyer I'd brought with me.