Teen Still Loves Goodwill’s Prices–Look What She Found Today!

Today Aimee and I took our daughters to Goodwill in Westport to shop for clothing. My daughter really needed summer clothing — we are out of hand-me-downs, unfortunately. (Ah, those were the good years when I rarely had to pay for great clothing, but now, the hand-me-down stream has dried out.)

teen clothing
I paid $16 for four items of clothing, all in excellent shape, at the Westport Goodwill today. That kind of money won't get you far in a clothing store. (However, I will say that I scored an adorable long-sleeved shirt at Old Navy this weekend for my daughter for a whopping $1.97. Gotta love their clearance sections.)

Here’s what my daughter found and everything looks fantastic on her. She found four items that were $3.99 each. So, for $16, she was able to get four items for the price she’d pay for one flimsy piece of clothing from a regular clothing store. The tops are in great shape, hardly worn, and the jeans (Old Navy–with adorable detailing) and shorts (Gap–also with cute detailing) look brand new and fit her perfectly. We left before Aimee checked out, but I think her family scored some great deals, too, since it was “1/2 off blue ticket” day.

I can’t wait to get a day to myself when I can scour the racks for some new items.

~Marilyn, TFF

A Goodwill Store Even a Teen Could Love

Last Friday, the new Goodwill Store opened in Westport. It looks like a mini department store…all fresh and new… all the old-clothing odors gone…and all the really fantastic prices seem to be gone, too. But, if it was a choice between having a new and improved store with slightly higher prices, or having the old Goodwill shut down, of course anyone in their right mind who lives in Fairfield County would opt for the new building.

new Goodwill
A history of the Goodwill buildings in Westport. This year, the newest building opened to a crowd hungering for bargains.

The Goodwill is in a new building built on the site of the old Peppermill Restaurant at 1700 Post Road East in Westport. This particular Goodwill is known for its unique , and its tony selection of clothing and goods, be it that it’s in….Westport. On any given day in the old building, you’d find a handful of well-heeled women searching the racks for their next black-tie ensemble. From an old BMW to the newest leased Lexus model, the parking lot was always a mix of cars, and TFF believes that will continue with the new building.

While milling around on opening day, I heard a patron complaining about the prices. This was a young-ish, well-kept kind of man, mind you. I asked him…”So, do you think the prices went up?” He replied, “Yes, they sure did, but they’ll get away with it because everyone shops here because of the economy.”

Okay, well, smart shoppers shopped there before the economy soured, too. And on Friday, I was happy to get a just-about-brand-new stainless Cuisinart frying pan for $8 that I desperately needed. Would I have preferred it to be $5, yes, but I’m not complaining.

You’ll have the complainers and the thankful patrons, but I have to say, my 13-year-old daughter just loves the new store when we went (again) on Saturday. She would barely be able to step into the old building even though I’d explain “You’ll get five items here for the price of one item at Kohl’s,” but it fell on deaf ears. The older building wasn’t “new” enough for her, and I certainly did not raise a spoiled child! But being 13 years old….and in middle school…well, it warps your mind, I guess. But she did not want to leave the new store on Saturday. Although we left with only one hoodie (brand new for $3.99) for her, she said she thinks the new Goodwill is her new shopping hangout. To me, those are golden words. Thank you, Goodwill!

~Marilyn, TFF

Shopping the Sales & Coupons at Whole Foods Market

Buying frugal chicken at Whole Foods

TFF Takes a Value Tour at Whole Foods Market in Fairfield, CT. Surprise! If you have the right strategy, you can shop frugal here.

We’ve heard it thousands of times: Whole Paycheck. But Whole Foods Market also has good sales and good coupons. Who knew!! I sure didn’t until my TFF partner told me. If you are at least semi-concerned about where you buy your meat, fruit, and veggies, listen up!

Directly from the mouth of one of the down-to-earth check-out associates: “If you shop the sales, you can clean up this place.” She is right. (And by the way, the Fairfield store’s check-out associates are extremely nice, approachable, and they totally understand the frugal mindset.)

For example, the Fairfield store has chicken drumsticks on sale for .99 cents a pound. Okay–you can get the same deal at the other grocery stores, but well, you know the yuck factor when it comes to buying mainstream chicken that may have wallowed in waste and been fed a diet of unhealthy feed and antibiotics. Whole Foods’ drumsticks on sale are what the store calls a “level 2” product and these chickens are supposed to have been raised in an “enriched environment” on a 100 percent vegetarian diet without antibiotics. (I sure hope so!) Usually, these particular drumsticks go for $3.39 a pound – so I bought them for 70 percent off the original cost.

I also bought Stoneyfield organic strawberry yogurt cups that were on sale: 3 packages (4 cups per pack–small cups, though) for $5. Not great until you add in the coupon of $1.00 off each pack! So, for .66 cents each pack, I had good organic strawberry yogurt for the kids–.17 cents a cup.

And, since my purchase was just a bit over $25, I was able to take advantage of the freebie package of organic baby carrots that would have cost $2.99.

If you’re interested in learning more, take a Value Tour at any Whole Foods in the country. The tours are meant to show customers that the store has healthy brands, meats, etc. that fit every budget. Even if the product isn’t necessarily organic, it is still supposed to be held to extremely high quality standards, said my tour guide and Fairfield store manager, Troy, so we shouldn’t have to worry about buying tainted or unhealthy food.

Troy said that generally ever week, there is a great sale on meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. The bottom line is this: It can be expensive to do a lot of shopping there, but Whole Foods has pretty good sales, and if you can match the sale with one of their own coupons, or a manufacturer’s coupon, you can get some notable deals.

I plan to go back next week to see what meat is on sale…

~Marilyn, TFF

Criticizing Couponers: C’mon, Leave Us Alone!


waiting for P&G coupons
Couponers don't care about the dirty looks we get at check out. We still love to get our coupons (especially those P&G newspaper inserts!) To find out when your next P&G newspaper insert is coming your way, click on this photo. Photo: Courtesy of P&G/PRNewswire

Never did I think that couponers would be criticized for their actions. There are certainly more extreme problems in the world than extreme couponers. After reading way too many long and scathing articles about how awful couponers act, you’d think we were a bunch of Bernie Madoffs. C’mon, folks, we’re just trying to cut our grocery bills, not swindle people out of peanut butter.

Now, I’m not an extreme couponer, but I do coupon, and I see the benefits of saving 50 to 60 percent off my groceries at check out, and I will continue to coupon to feed my hungry crew.

I have seen some strange reactions to my coupons, though—from positive to downright rude. I’ve had a handful of people at check out comment that I know how to shop right, to a handful of people at check out give me the once over, tell me they think TLC’s EC show is dumb (I am a fan of the show because I learn a lot from it), then ask me if my family really needs ten boxes of typically expensive cereal and thirteen boxes of juice packs (uh…yes!).

The benefits of couponing became crystal clear the day before school started when I was running ragged through Target, picking up groceries willy-nilly without thinking about cost or coupons. My thought process went something like this: paying this much for single packet Pringles is crazy, but I will get back to couponing once the kids are back in school… I wonder why other people are willing to pay these prices without coupons…how is it that the woman down the aisle can just throw groceries in her cart without coupons or looking at the price?

After the sticker shock of that little shopping spree, I vowed to get back to couponing asap. Happily, I used my Catalina coupons at Stop & Shop yesterday and walked away with my free toothpaste, $1.00 boxes of Keebler fudge granola bars, and paid pennies for Pantene shampoo and conditioner.

Ahhh, it’s good to be back in the couponing business. I can’t wait for the second season of EC to start. And, I couldn’t care less who gives me the evil eye at check out. ~TFF

Find Savings at the Service Desk

If you spot a coupon booklet at the service desk of any store, grab a few before they’re gone.

(Back and at it slowly after a week of what may have been the flu…)

If you poke around the service desks of any given Stop & Shop, you are bound to find some hidden gems–meaning, booklets with coupons in them. The courtesy desk workers barely know about them (as a Frugal Fairfielder found out). So, ask. It doesn’t hurt. And, the coupons in the booklets are pretty good–stack them with manufacturers’ coupons to create big bargains. This particular booklet shown above was found at the courtesy desk of the Stop & Shop on the Post Road in Fairfield near the circle (near the McDonald’s).

One booklet is called the “Meal Makers Savings Book” — inside you’ll find $15 in store coupons (save $1 on a number of things, such as sausage, rolls, muffins…).

There’s another hidden gem from Stop & Shop that I’ll post tomorrow. Inside, there are coupons for free veggies, etc. Be on the lookout for that Monday…

By the way, in case anyone was wondering, we do not work at all for any of the stores mentioned on this blog! We just shop there!