Serina ended up with way too many bags of rice after purchasing a coupon to ‘save’ on groceries.
Serina ended up with way too many bags of rice after purchasing a coupon to ‘save’ on groceries.

Grocery trap: I was tricked into spending $220

I LOVE a good bargain. But when is a good bargain not a bargain? When you don't read the fine print properly and you end up buying things that you don't need.

My partner Neil is rarely critical of me - hardly ever. But the other night I did something he disagreed with. He was out and I was about to sit down and write, but instead a flashing Groupon sale caught my eye and distracted me long enough to lead me astray.

The Groupon sale featured up to 15 per cent off food and drink specials. When I clicked on it there were 13 in Canberra, where I live.

I quickly worked out that while there were some bargains, none of them were at places that I was likely to dine at in the near future. Feeling virtuous, I declared these 'wants' rather than 'needs'. Ha, I know how to avoid throwing money away on stuff I don't need!

I was about to click off the site, when another voucher caught my eye - limited edition $5 for $20 Woolworths vouchers with 15 per cent cashback. That seemed like a good deal to me, so I snapped them up. I use plural because I bought not just one but the maximum number of five. I was so excited that I did not hesitate.

Wanting to maximise my savings, I bought the Groupon Woolworths coupons through Cashrewards. This gave me a further 5 per cent cash back, earning me $3.75.

Feeling smug about the prospect of $120 worth of groceries for only $21.25, I then logged onto the Woolworths website (via Cashrewards again, for a discount of 2.4 per cent cashback) only to realise I had not read the fine print. Specifically, I would have to spend $220 in order to use one $20 voucher. And I would have to shop online.

Now I am an ALDI and Costco woman. I like my good value groceries. I also like going to the grocery store in person.

What to do? Of course, I could just call it quits and realise that I had spent $21.25 on things that I didn't need. However, just then Neil came home and, on learning what I had purchased, decided to tease me about being lured in by clickbait.

I was determined to prove to him that, contrary to appearances, I had in fact made a wise choice. I was a savvy frugalista who makes good choices and knows how to save money.


Well, that's what I aspire to be.

So I went onto the Woolworths site and trawled the brochure specials in search of bargains. But not just any bargains - things we would actually use. This was a little hard as we try, for the most part, to avoid processed foods. Well, perhaps some half-priced Tim Tams made it into the shopping basket, along with a half-priced large 400g jar of Moccona coffee. Tim Tam slam perhaps? Hmm, Messina influenced choc-mint flavours. To hell with fitting into the wedding dress.

I also added in some dried fruit and marzipan, which I plan to use when making a fruit cake soon. (I have aspirations of making my own wedding cake - how hard could a multi-tier cake be?)

We bought a few other wedding party supplies, too, such as cans of Coca-Cola (on special) to go with the scotch we bought duty free in June. We are sure that our guests will appreciate the Coca-Cola, although to be honest Neil is happy enough drinking generic brand cola for his own needs - I don't even drink Coca-Cola and rarely touch soft drink.

"Don't buy things just for the sake of buying them," Neil warned as I clicked 30kg of white rice, 4 litres of rice bran oil and five packets of wholemeal pasta into the shopping cart.

"Oh, but these are really cheap and we will use them," I responded hoping that my positivism was convincing him that I really, truly was saving us money and had everything under control.

"And there are so many things on special - some even half price," I added. This was correct: for certain products there were some great deals, although for everyday items in many cases ALDI remained cheaper. Did I mention half-priced Tim Tams? Definitely a want rather than a need (or was that the other way around?).

How did I track? Well, for my $220 shop I got:

• Free instore pick-up

• $15 free ($20 Groupon voucher purchased for $5)

• $3.75 cashback by purchasing the $25 Groupon voucher through Cashrewards (15 per cent special)

• $5.10 cashback by clicking to Woolworths via Cashrewards (2.4 per cent)

• $10 discount (5 per cent) by using an eWish card through the Entertainment Book

Total: $33.85 savings on a $220 grocery shop

I'll leave it to you to judge whether this was a bargain or not. I'll also be leaving it to Neil to help me find some space in our already overcrowded apartment to store 30kg of white medium grain rice and 4 litres of rice bran oil, plus all the rest. In the meantime, I've got four more vouchers to use so another $880 to spend in order to get some discounts. Any ideas on what I should buy?