Here’s the deal: I am hopeless at saving money on groceries. I can find the best deal on the Internet for a pair of Paige Premium Denim jeans and know instinctively where to get the best mani/pedi for under $30 in a 25-mile radius, but when I am at the grocery store, I pretty much just buy what I buy and I don’t pay attention to how much individual items cost.
Shocking, I know.
As for coupons, I am really hopeless at those. My husband and I shove the coupons we receive from stores and manufacturers in a drawer in the kitchen. I would say that about 80% of the time, I forget even to look in the drawer before I go grocery-shopping. And when I do remember to bring coupons with me to the store, half the time I stash them in my pocket and forget to use them when I pay. And, let’s be frank: I am often shopping with a three year old, which is tantamount to shopping with a ticking time bomb. I’m trying to get in and out as fast as possible. Juggling my shopping list and paper coupons all while having a serious discussion with J.R. about the merits of Spiderman versus Wolverine and why he can’t have a giant Handy Manny balloon is more than I can handle.
The only money-saving trick that I manage to use effectively when it comes to grocery-shopping is to use the store’s shopper reward program. I belong to every shopper reward program out there. And I carry the cards in my wallet so I always have them with me.
This is why Dominick’s new Just For U program is perfect for me. (For those of you on the East Coast, let me quickly say this: Dominick’s is Safeway and Safeway is Dominick’s, okay? One of the many things I had to learn when I moved to this frozen Midwestern burgh.) With the Just For U program, you can add coupons to your Dominick’s Fresh Values card at the Dominick’s website; then when you shop and present your card at the cash register, the coupons are automatically applied — no need to use paper coupons. You can even email yourself your shopping list from the Dominick’s website so you can have it right on your smart phone and go paperless — assuming your three year old is not using your smart phone to play games while you shop.
But what is more, Just For U offers personalized deals that are tailored to each individual customer based on his or her shopping patterns. These personalized savings can be used over and over again for up to 90 days. This is terrific, in my opinion, because the majority of the time, when I see coupons in the Sunday paper, they are not for products or brands that I buy. My Just For U personalized deals, by contrast, were for exactly the products I want to buy at the grocery store, like Ziploc bags, Tide laundry detergent or Breyer’s ice cream.
Dominick’s kindly sent me some gift cards so that I could try out the Just For U program and review it. I was very pleased with my experience. First of all, when I was in the store last week, Dominick’s was offering lots of great deals for all of their Fresh Values card holders. Between the club card deals, the coupons from the Coupon Center and my personalized deals, I saved over $50 on my grocery bill. For an amateur like me, that’s a lot.
In addition, I had decided that I would use some of the gift cards that Dominick’s had sent me to stock up on inexpensive, nutritious pantry items for all of the food drives that come up during the holiday season. Half of the time when there is a canned food drive at my kids’ schools or at our temple, I forgot about it until the last minute. So I end up rummaging through the pantry and picking out some random items, like marinated red peppers or salsa, as if I were Cher in “Clueless” donating the domestic caviar that her dad didn’t like anyway to the victims of the Pismo Beach disaster. By focusing on the Fresh Values Card deals and the Just For U savings, I bought a shopping bag’s worth of healthy staples like soup, pasta, peanut butter, tuna, beans and canned vegetables all with one $25 gift card to give away this holiday season.
Speaking of giving stuff away, I have three $25 Dominick’s gift cards to give away to you all so that you can try the Just For U program, or at least take advantage of the Fresh Values Card deals. (A quick note: Just For U is currently only available in Hawaii and the Chicago area. However, anyone can enter the giveaway for the Dominick’s gift cards and they will work at Safeway as well.) To enter, leave me a comment with your best grocery-shopping with kids horror story — you can be either the parent or the kid in the story. I will pick three winners at random. (No, I am not going to decide which story is the best!) Contest ends Friday, October 15 at midnight.
For more chances to win a Dominick’s gift cards, be sure to follow @dominicks on Twitter. They are giving away 10 gift cards every week for ten weeks.
Full disclosure time: I received eight $25 gift cards from Dominick’s as a thank you for trying the Just For U program and blogging about it. I used four of the cards for my own purposes, one card to buy items for the local food pantry, and am giving away three of the cards. All opinions expressed herein are solely my own.