How to cut corners

I’ve been seeing more and more stuff like this on Facebook.

“Still a Coupon Diva in training. I got:
3 boxes of Tampax, 2 Deodorants, 2 Body washes, Dawn Liquid Dish soap, 2 pkgs of disposable razors, 1 roll of Bounty paper towels, 6 Beneful prepared meals Retail Price for all $61.86 – Savings of $26.18 and I paid……… $35.68”.

And.

“One of my best savings yet although I didn’t buy a ton of stuff. Retail price was $65.16. With sales and coupons, I paid $15.84 for a total savings of 76%. Woo Hoo”!!

One more.

“Went shopping tonight. Bought $267.67 worth of stuff. My cost, which included $20 worth of gift cards as a rebate, came to $113.26. A savings of 58%. Not too bad. I’m only an Extreme Couponing Apprentice”!

I’d never heard of Extreme Couponing have you? Here’s a website with video.

I used to use a lot of coupons when my family was younger but I haven’t used them in years. How do you cut corners? Do you use coupons and if so, do you just buy what you need and will use or do you use them just to use them?

When to buy generic and when to stick with the brand name? What do you do when it comes to generic?

Share your shopping secrets. What do you do at the grocery store to save you some moola?

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18 Responses to How to cut corners

  1. Sue says:

    I’m getting back to using coupons. Last time I was at the grocery store I saved $14 and got stuff I actually use. One of my friends at work decided to start couponing 2 weeks
    ago and saved $80! She got free toothbrushes, tampons for 99 cents a box, and toilet paper for practically nothing. She bought 5 Sunday papers for a total of $3.75 so it’s not like she had to break the bank to find the coupons. I may very well try that this Sunday!

    • Joy says:

      I guess it’s really becoming a competition with this new TV show. It does feel good to save and you really save when you get double coupons or buy one get one free. I had to do this when the boys were small and never got full.

  2. Jenny says:

    Wish I could do that!! I seem to cut out coupons, bring them with me to the store and never use them. I just see them as a hassle. I think I need more patience doing it.

    • Sue says:

      My friend had 34 coupons and I said, “didn’t you feel dumb standing there while he ran all those up?” She said, “HELL NO! I saved $80! It was worth it!”

  3. Jason says:

    I am Jenny’s biggest money saver, if it wasn’t for me she would probably spend a good 50-60% of the grocery bill on toys for Hunter and snack food…. I am the back seat driver to her shopping experience. 🙂

  4. SKL says:

    I will use a coupon if it lands in my lap, is something I buy anyway, and I don’t forget to bring it when I shop. The problem I see with all this bargain-hunting is that people buy stuff they would never have bought otherwise, because it was a “good price.” Then you end up with a fridge/cupboard full of stuff you aren’t going to finish before it expires or wears out its welcome. So not only do you end up spending more than necessary, but you end up wasting food / resources – which bugs me even more.

    So I have a few rules that keep me reasonable (but not perfect, yet).

    – Do an inventory before you shop. That way you won’t buy something you already have enough of. Somehow having too much of something causes me to eat/use even less of it.

    – Buy the size that makes the most sense. Even if the double-size box costs only 10% more, the question is, will you eat it or is it going to end up in the garbage? Do you really think those Cheerios are still gonna taste good to you after eating two bowls a day for a week? If you don’t know what that Kefir concentrate tastes like, is it really wise to buy a half-gallon of it??

    – Don’t shop while hungry. EVERYTHING looks good when you’re hungry.

    – Find out if the store has “case discounts” for stuff you buy a lot of. I buy four gallons of milk every other week. That saves me 10% versus buying two gallons every week. (And with organic milk, 10% is worth the effort.)

    – If you’re going to a store to use a coupon, just use the coupon. Don’t buy a cartload of other stuff that catches your eye. Kind of defeats the purpose.

    – Liquid soap can be more economical than bar soap, because it doesn’t wash away while in the soap dish and you don’t have to perform a separate task of cleaning soap scum.

    – Consolidate shopping trips and stay close to home when possible. No point using up all your “savings” on gasoline.

    – Sam’s Club isn’t a discount house. If you go there, only buy what you are sure is a better deal / unique purchase you really want. And again, stuff you will really use up.

    – Shopping online can help avoid impulse purchases.

    – Water is enough for most cleaning jobs (as well as an awesome refreshment). When you need soap, a tiny bit will usually suffice. (Same goes for room freshener.) The bottom of your socks do not have to be snow white. And a spotless, sanitized house is merely an invitation to allergies. So, avoid the temptation to add another cleaner to your cabinet.

    – Just Say No to any edible that doesn’t support good health. Nobody needs a cookie every day.

    – Bring your own bags to get a discount where available. (Keep them in your car so you don’t have to remember them.)

    – My sister told me that while grocery stores sell non-food items, they charge more than Wal-Mart. Hold off on those purchases if you can, until you go to a Wal-Mart or similar store.

    – If you are thinking of stocking up, make sure the item will last until you use it up. My brother just told me he “saved a lot of money” by buying 20 tubes of toothpaste. Most likely, some of those tubes will be expired before he uses them. One dumb thing I once did was buy a huge bottle of aspirin. I take maybe 10 aspirins per year, LOL.

    – Generics – I will buy them for certain personal items where I’m pretty sure the only difference is the brand name. For example, dental rinse, cotton tampons, etc. The price difference seems a lot bigger than the product difference. But I don’t trust generic for a lot of items, especially food.

    – Make all your purchases using a credit card with points. Cash in the points for gift cards. And then do some online shopping to see if you can get any bargains with the gift cards. I once got a fancy language translator (from Sharper Image) worth $100+ for free by combining these strategies.

    I could probably go on all day about tricks for saving money. It was quite the hobby when I was paying off my student loans.

    • Ellen says:

      Totally agreeing with you! Especially the bags. We always use our own bags. We got some big ones from Holland, they will go along so long. To save money, and if it is possible, go by bike to the stores. I have side bags on my bike. I do now and groceries for 60 Dollars with my bike…Savings gas and have some exercises. I am new with the credit cards with points. Which one do you recommend?

      • SKL says:

        The one I use most is Discover. It used to have the best deal. Nowadays there might be cards with more points. But when it comes to credit cards, it’s not a good idea to have too many. Discover has been good for the long term for me.

  5. Laura says:

    One of my favorite birthday presents is a vacuum sealer. I watch the meat sales around here, and buy in bulk. We’re talking a 10lb tube of 97% lean ground beef, for $1.99/lb. So I’ll buy a tube or two, divide it up into 1/2 lb portions, vacuum-seal and freeze them. They last a really long time. I do the same with chicken breasts (cleaned before freezing, sometimes cut into strips for quick stir-frys, or ground for burgers), pork chops, steaks, whatever. It’s a massive outlay up front, but to get something like Ribeye steaks for $4/lb rather than $8/lb – that’s a pretty big deal. And the sealer is a fun toy, so bonus!!

    • Joy says:

      I used to do that with meat too Laura. I can’t even tell you how many of those vacuum sealer bag machines I went through. I now just have the one that seals jars and I keep things like my brown sugar and stuff in them. Meat is so expensive and this is a really good way of buying it. Now we buy half a beef but I’m almost rethinking that. We still have so much left. We just don’t eat the same way we used to. We’ll probably still get it but I’m going to really reduce how we have it packaged up.

      What vacuum sealer do you have?

  6. Laura says:

    I’ve never been very lucky with the coupons. I’ve had hits, but mostly misses with them. Probably because the stuff that I use rarely gets ‘couponed’. I don’t know if I’m looking in the wrong place, or if it’s just my bad luck.

    Maybe now that couponing is becoming such a sport, I’ll start up again. I’ll try and remember to buy the sunday papers, and have a go. I could sure use some money savings.

  7. Laura says:

    Oh! And I’m getting better at buying generics… I’ll go for generics on things like zip-lock bags, some garbage bags, and taco mix believe it or not. Some of the branded stuff has Autolyzed Yeast in it, and I discovered that I’m seriously sensitive/allergic to it. So I buy generic.

    Otherwise, we’ve cut WAY down on buying processed anything – we’re mostly buying fresh stuff. So when I do buy brand names, I don’t feel bad.

  8. Nikki says:

    I’m just now starting to use coupons. I have an envelope going for this weekend’s grocery trip. We buy almost everything, chicken breasts in those 3 or 5 lb bags. There are a few things we don’t buy generic, soy sauce, ketchup, coffee, sauces. We stopped buying frozen TV dinners, and snacks. I think that right there is saving us a lot of money. Bailey eats non stop so instead of fruit snacks or chips I get him a bag of apples or oranges. the crackers we really buy are Cheez-its. We just don’t buy too much crap. We never buy sugary baked goods anymore.

    We’ve cut back on our grocery bill by not buying all that crap, so these coupons will save us even more money. We don’t buy paper goods either, other than toilet paper, you kinda need that!

  9. Joy says:

    SKL has a lot of really good points. We don’t shop too much as places like Sam’s Club anymore. When the boys were little and constantly eating, we shopped there for at least 80% of our groceries. But I agree that you can’t go hungry and you have to stick to a list because everything starts to look good and you end up wasting when you’re trying to save.

    The only thing I really buy in bulk now are dry goods. Ziplock bags, hefty garbage bags, batteries, toilet paper, paper towels, kleenix, soap and things like that.

    I used to use a lot of coupons. When we lived in Minnetonka there was a Cub and Rainbow right across from each other and I’d go to each store and use all the coupons and get the “free” stuff from each store and would buy all the “in store” specials. But normally Paul would go shopping and I’d stay home and be cooking for the week. It worked really good that way. We don’t shop well together. Now if I try to use coupons I forget them at home. I also won’t drive to more than one store for a savings. We live to far from stores. I know Walmart is the least expensive but I don’t really get to Walmart that often and when I do I’m looking for non grocery items and by the time I’m done doing that I’m sick of shopping. Paul does work near a Walmart, Cub and Target so he gets to know what’s cheaper where and that’s how we do it now. He can go in a store with a list and only buy what’s on it. Too many things look good to me so my cart fills up with too much junk. I just hate when that happens.

  10. Phyllis says:

    As far as getting coupons on the brands you actually use you can go to most any company’s website and print out coupons for their item on your computer. That way you get ones for the stuff you actually use.

    I work in a grocery store and I have to tell you…. we’ve got a few regular customers that come in a few times a week and REALLY save big time on their orders with coupons. I’ve seen them knock a $70 order down to less than $5.

    As a FYI for those of you considering coupon use, are you aware that when you get a Catalina coupon from one store it can actually be used at other stores as long as it says “manufacturer coupon” rather than “store coupon”. Around here Cub, Jewel, Dominic’s and Walgreen’s will all honor those coupons no matter where they originated. Those are the coupons that are generated at the checkout terminal.

  11. sean says:

    coupons? I dont need them,i can more or less guarantee i could get more savings with out coupons..all you have to do is jew them down..it works more times than it doesnt…even in sears…that was my latest quest

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