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Money Saving Monday: Coupons

I’m a long time, faithful Get Rich Slowly reader. I may be all over the map subject matter wise, but GRS brings me back to the money, frugality core time and time again. It rarely disappoints, and when it does, I still find it thought provoking.

Such is the case with last week’s article on How to Buy Brand Name Items at Generic Brand Prices. Or as call it, “How to Buy Processed Food for Cheaper Than Other Processed Food”. Bleck! But, it did get me thinking about coupons. Wouldn’t it be swell if I could score a BOGO coupon on grass fed beef? I can’t open up the Sunday paper and find a deal on happy chicken. Even when I’m lucky enough to find “organic” XYZ on sale, I have to be suspect. “Free Range” can mean that the warehouse full of over crowded chickens has access to a small doorway to a cemented patio. Boo. Not interested, even with a coupon.

Because the food industry (and their corresponding coupons) hasn’t gotten the memo about where we want our food to come from, nor are they likely to anytime soon, I have to dodge and weave to even attempt to compensate for my lack of manufacturer sponsored savings.

The well loved coupon books which live in my car.

Take What You Can Get. As in, the coupons I use are usually ones I have to pay for. I employ the Chinook Book whenever possible. It’s not just for food, but there are store and product coupons that add up to real savings. I go through the book regularly and trade coupons with friends and co-workers based on who will use what. Just this weekend, we used a coupon to a local seafood purveyor to for 20% off an oyster purchase. The oysters were a birthday present. The coupon saved us $8.

Shop The Ads. For everywhere. Even if you don’t think they have “sales”, they might. Whole Foods has ads. My local Market does. Our local Drug Store. I’m even finding that the regular grocery stores near my house offer specials in their “Natural and Organic” section. As I mentioned, be suspicious of the sourcing, but at least check. If nothing else the price comparison gives you a starting point for your Price Book. Everyone’s ads are online. I can mosey through half a dozen stores in 20 minutes, including the notes I jot down in The Book. Better still, get on their email lists. Several businesses email me their flyers. That’s my kind of spam.

Get Around. Beyond just checking the weekly flyers, be willing to drive to different stores (within reason), employ different strategies (bulk buys, anyone?), and even barter to bring down your bill. Where we shop changes on a week to week basis (you may have noticed). We stop at the Farmer’s Market, the Local Market, and Whole Foods regularly. However, we aren’t above a trip to the Grocery Outlet or the Yuppy Hippy Market (if we’ve got one of those store coupons – but be careful).

If you’ve been following along with our weekly and monthly grocery totals, it might not seem like I employ many cost saving measures. I’d argue that I do. On a regular basis even. Maybe not coupons, which I would use if they were available for ethical, real, local foods. Last I checked, they aren’t. So, we will continue to think outside the Sunday Paper for our savings. I’m sure coupons aren’t obsolete for everyone. They certainly are at our house.

What about you? Do you use coupons? For what? Where do you find them? Are they useful?

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I use coupons here & there, but usually it’s cheaper to make my own, or buy on sale. Once in a while I’ll find some good coupons & will use them though! :)


Carla – I didn’t even think of the making it yourself angle. Good point!

Karawynn – I read your grocery shopping manifesto, and am enjoying the mexican counterpart.

I should note, as both of you did, if coupons end up in my lap and are useful, I will of course use them. That just happens so rarely.

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