Are Nearly Free Groceries Worth It?

There’s an amazing news item making the rounds on the interwebs about this Atlanta-area woman who can feed a family of five on as low as $10 a week by being the world champion of clipping coupons:

The family’s grocery bill was $200 to $250 dollars a week. She began clipping coupons, trying to match them up with sales in the weekly fliers from grocery and drug stores. As Crissy’s husband Joe puts it, “At first it kind of blew my mind because she’d bring things home and I’d be like is this legit or what? Are we going to get in trouble?”

It was legit alright.

And it took a bit of research and work. It still does.

Crissy says it takes her about an hour a week to get ready for her shopping trip, a trip that takes three to four hours and involves three to seven stores in the area…

Over the course of the article, Crissy buys $140 worth of household stuff at the CVS for less than $5 and about $50 worth of groceries at the Publix for about $15, using coupons combined with sales and promotions.

This kind of extreme money-saving discipline is very impressive, especially with the price of staples like rice skyrocketing lately. But is it worth it? This kind of lifestyle necessarily means being subjected to the whims of retailers and their stock. As much as we hate shelling out $6 for in-season asparagus, we would hate more to feel like we couldn’t buy that asparagus this week because it wasn’t on sale. But then, we don’t have three kids.

Another troublesome thing about this shopping method is the amount of time and travel it requires. Crissy drives all over town. Did you catch that part where she spends about five hours a week at this and hits three to five stores per trip? We simply wouldn’t have the patience or the gas money. Though, the idea seems to be you do this extreme money saving shopping so that you can have gas money.

Would it be way too San Francisco hippy of us to suggest that Crissy ditch the car and ride her bicycle to the farmers’ market to buy cheap, in-season stuff, then do her extreme money saving at the CVS on the way home? Probably. Not everybody can live like that, we know.

But doing errands sans car is more feasible than it sounds, we learned when our car died in 2006. We never replaced that ancient Saab, and the combination of a large messenger bag and 16-speed Fuji has served us fine ever since. Why pick up another reliance (on coupons) to pay for the gasoline reliance you may not need anyway? Divorcing the car has left us free to spend more money on higher quality goods in other areas. Like $6 asparagus in May. No, that’s still ridiculous.

Coupon queen spends $10/week on family groceries [Boing Boing]
If I Didn’t See It With My Own Eyes… [11Alive]

[Photo: Jimforest/flickr]

Are Nearly Free Groceries Worth It?