Unlike other coupon blogs we’ve always preached that coupons alone aren’t enough to help you save money at the grocery store. You also have to adhere to a budget, and you have to have a game plan every time you shop. The pandemic, though, threw a monkey wrench in that game plan. But it also showed us how you can save money on groceries with curbside pick-up.
Let’s talk about curbside pickup
Grocery stores offering curbside pick-up is nothing new but have you ever used it? Have you ever really even thought about it? I hadn’t. I never even looked into it because I assumed there was some additional cost involved that would make it more of a luxury, an unnecessary, expensive luxury.
And then one day, shortly after our governor locked us down, I was loading my digital coupons in my Kroger app when I noticed the banner at the top of the page advertising curbside pick-up. It caught my eye because I had just been in my local store a few days before and noticed that tempers were beginning to flare and I was concerned about fights breaking out over toilet paper.
No additional charge for curbside pickup
So I clicked on that banner and the first thing I noticed was that there was no additional charge for curbside pick-up. The ad did say that the fee would be $4.99 after the trial period and that you could use curbside pick-up 5 times before that charge kicked in. However, I’ve used it 7 or 8 times now and Kroger says they don’t think they’ll ever put that charge into effect after seeing how successful the program is.
You can use coupons on your curbside order
Yes, you can use coupons on your curbside pick-up order. You are not charged for your groceries until you pick them up. When you arrive in the parking lot they ask you if you have coupons. If you do, they’ll come out and get them and deduct them from your total before you’re charged.
Your order is also connected to your Kroger card (or whatever store you’re shopping at) so any digital coupons on your card will also be deducted before you’re charged. So don’t forget to load those digital coupons!
You can change your curbside order
I usually start my online order 2 or 3 days before I plan to pick it up. This gives me time to delete that bag of flour because I just found 2 bags in the pantry. Or I can add butter and chocolate chips to my cart when our chocolate chip cookie stash runs low.
You can schedule your pick-up any time
This is one feature of curbside pick-up that’s really helped save me a bunch of money. You choose what day and time you want to pick up your groceries and you can change your order any time up until midnight of the day before you’re picking up. I keep tweaking that total right up to the last minute!
The Best Reason to Use Curbside Pick-up
Now that we have all the little details out of the way, the best reason to use curbside pick-up is that it allows you to manage your budget. In fact, I usually come in under budget when all is said and done.
As you add or delete items in your cart you can see your total. That total, though, is based on the advertised price of the item, not the price after your digital coupons are deducted. And it also doesn’t include deductions for any physical coupons you plan to use.
I watch that total while I’m adding items to my cart. When that total equals the amount of money I have budgeted for that shopping trip I know it’s time to take a good look at the items in my cart and start whittling out the impulse items to make room for necessities.
Once I’ve moved items in and out of my cart to hit that budget number I usually end up spending less than my budget because physical and digital coupons don’t come off your total until you pick-up your groceries. It’s like a little bonus!
Shopping online allows you to plan
Now, think about it. When you go over your budget at the grocery store it’s usually because you’ve picked up a few extra items that weren’t on your list. Those are ‘impulse items’. Spending on those impulse items is what puts you over your budget or prevents you from being able to purchase the things you really need.
But who has time, in the middle of a busy grocery store, to take everything out of the cart and sort out what’s necessary and what’s not? And more important, who has time to do all that calculating and re-calculating?
We’ve always said that coupons alone will only help you save so much money at the grocery store. Planning and budgeting will up your game to the next level When you shop online for curbside pick-up you have all the time you need to look at each item and decide if you really need it. How will it work in your weekly meal plan and your weekly budget? If one menu item is too expensive this week and it’s throwing off your budget, you have time to shop for a replacement.
Curbside Pick-up After COVID-19
Obviously, curbside pick-up is a great idea during this pandemic. You don’t have to go into the store and you’re maintaining social distancing. But I’ve found it to be such a great way to manage my budget that I’ve continued to use it even though most restrictions have been lifted here.
It’s also saved me a huge amount of time I used to spend strolling up and down aisles, looking for the best bargains. As a bonus – somebody loads all the groceries into your car for you. I actually have time AND energy left after grocery day!