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November 12th 2008

Channeling My Inner Cheap Bastard.

Like many Americans, my wife and I have been looking for ways to save a few dollars during this scary chapter in our nation’s history. Neither of us are very frugal, but I’ve been told it only takes twenty one days to create a habit. Why not give it a try.

The first thing we did was look at our fixed expenses. Our monthly utilities and whatnot. Within minutes we were able to bring down our High Speed Internet bill and scale back on some unneeded Auto Insurance. In addition, both of us agreed to keep an eye on the thermostat. No need to keep the temperature in the house at 75 degrees when we’re not there.

Well, what about our dogs? Won’t they get cold?

Next we busted out the MasterCard bill. Not fun. This usually goes right into the shredder. Today, however, it was center stage on our dining room table. As I went down the long three page list, I put black dots next every item that could have been avoided. This was a serious wake up call. Nearly 75% of our expenses were needless or could be seriously scaled back. The number one culprit – EATING OUT. $800. Need I say more?

Now, with an agreement in place that we would only eat out once a week – we moved on to groceries. This is our toughest subject – and largest expense. Both of us agreed that we would continue to purchase only organic or range free meats coupled with organic or locally grown fruits and veggies. This was non negotiable. Everything else – fair game.

So how could we save money on groceries????

Use coupons?

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease. Not Moi. I’d rather do an open house on a vacant lot.

The next day, while yapping it up in the office (I can be a real yenta sometimes), I struck up a conversation with a coworker. Wearing a deep smile on my face, I told her of my metamorphosis from an extreme money waster into an incredibly cheap bastard. Well, maybe bastard is a little strong. Perhaps “financially prudent individual” works better. As she pounded on her keyboard politely pretending to listen to me, I explained to her that our only unresolved issue was groceries. I needed a real strategy to bring down the price of our groceries.

“Coupons.”

“Here we go again.”

“No really. I save so much money using coupons.”

She then began telling me of how she was saving nearly fifty percent off of her grocery tab by clipping coupons.

“No way!”

In fact, on a recent visit to the supermarket, at the checkout stand, she pulled out a massive pile of coupons. Seeing this, the overly hair dyed woman standing behind her let out a huge sigh. How dare she make her late for Saturday Botox. But when the price adjusted from $175 to $83.50, the woman let out another sigh, paid $30 for her overpriced tap water and eagerly followed her out the door.

“How did you do that?”

“Coupons.”

Ok. That peaked my interest. She was saving some serious duckets. Serious Cash. I needed to find out how she did this. Not only that — I needed to pass along her amazing strategy to all of my loyal readers.

It wasn’t easy, but after groveling at her desk for a half hour, this is what she sent me today. I’m posting it “As Is” — so enjoy.

My Best Coupon Tips — I save between $50 – $100 every week using coupons paired with store sales & using my store club card.

Look for pamphlets of coupons in the Sunday newspapers. These are mixed in with the store flyers & advertisements. There are usually at least 2 – 3 pamphlets put out by Red Plum, Smart Source, and P&G Brandsaver nearly every week.

Different newspapers sometimes have different coupons, so don’t hesitate to buy more than one paper or more than one brand of paper. It will pay for itself. Or ask friends or family members for their coupon pamphlets if they won’t use them.

Most grocery stores will let you use up to (4) of the same coupon. If there’s a $1.00 off coupon for pasta sauce, use (4) of the same $1.00 off coupons to get the discount on (4) jars of sauce. Stock up!

Most grocery stores as a standard will double coupons with values up to .99 cents. So a .75 cent coupon is really worth $1.50. Unless the coupon is worth over $1.00, or it says “Do Not Double”, all can be doubled. Some stores offer Triple Coupon Week every couple of months. Take advantage of this! .75 cent coupons are worth $2.25. You can get a lot of things for free this way.
Look inside or on product packaging for coupons or rebates, and save them.

Print coupons from your computer. There are dozens of legitimate coupon dedicated websites: www.RedPlum.com, www.Smartsource.com, www.Coupons.com, www.CoolSavings.com. Either visit the site to print, or sign up & they will email the coupons to you. **Check with your local grocery store to see if they accept internet generated coupons – most do, but I know A&P does not**

Visit brand websites – they always have coupons! Pillsbury, General Mills, Betty Crocker, etc. & while you’re there, sign up for their mailing lists, emails or newsletters, they will very often send you coupons, discounts, giveaways, recipes, recipe books, or free samples for their products.

For expectant parents, or parents with infants, Gerber, Beechnut, Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, Similac, Carnation Good Start, & Enfamil all have clubs you can sign up for to receive monthly mailings of coupons. Baby formula companies will send you full size samples of formula and checks good toward future purchases.

Walmart.com has a “free sample” section on it’s website that offers great free samples EVERY DAY. Go to http://instoresnow.walmart.com/In-Stores-Now-free-samples.aspx Click on the “get my sample” button. They offer everything from shampoo, snacks, pet food, detergents, personal products, diapers, and more. They add new ones & change the list frequently so check back often.

I clip & save coupons. Most are good for several months, some never expire. I keep a pocketed coupon organizer, organized by product type or grocery store section (personal care, pet foods, baby products, refrigerated…etc). I check for expired coupons once a month. Every Sunday I clip coupons while having my morning coffee and peruse the store flyers to plan my purchases. If ketchup is on sale for $1.00 and you have a .50 cent coupon for it, it will get doubled, and voila – Free Ketchup.

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1 Comment on “Channeling My Inner Cheap Bastard.”

1
The Couponizer said,

Wow Jesse! That is a great article, very informative. You are very fortunate to work with such an incredibly intelligent and budget-wise woman!

November 13th, 2008, 7:27 am  

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