What Normal People Are Totally Confused About When It Comes to Couponing

I attended a couponing workshop last night in Trumbull, CT, given by Gina Juliano (of Gina’s Kokopelli website). It was a joy to sit in the audience for once so I could relax, concentrate and take notes on what others were asking Gina. It is amazing how much there is to learn about couponing! Here’s what the audience had to say, and here are some answers to the top 10 questions that I also typically get when I give a workshop. Continue reading “What Normal People Are Totally Confused About When It Comes to Couponing”

Overcoming CVS ExtraBucks Fatigue: When It Pays to Do the Mental Gymnastics for Coupons and EBs

Though I look over Couponmom.com religiously, last spring I ended up getting what I call CVS ExtraBucks Fatigue. My mind was just not willing to do the mathematical gymnastics and equations required to shop at CVS. Continue reading “Overcoming CVS ExtraBucks Fatigue: When It Pays to Do the Mental Gymnastics for Coupons and EBs”

Stop Stereotyping Couponers: The Majority Frugally Shop the Outer Perimeters of the Grocery Store

There was yet another article about couponing, this time in “The New York Times Magazine,” (May 3, 2012) featuring the folks at Fabulously Frugal, and yet again, I’m astounded at how a topic like couponing can get people so riled up (read the comments, they are more entertaining than the actual article). Many of the misinformed comments that come after the article prejudge people who use coupons as unhealthy hoarders who are a burden to those who don’t use coupons.  Continue reading “Stop Stereotyping Couponers: The Majority Frugally Shop the Outer Perimeters of the Grocery Store”

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

Undercover at New ShopRite in Fairfield, CT

 
shoprite
Prices are always attractive when a new grocery store opens–but then they slowly edge up. Let’s hope Fairfield’s new ShopRite will remain a great destination for years to come. Photo: TFF

Fairfielders are genuinely happy to see ShopRite open today in the former Shaw’s space. Though we have Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, and for those willing to pay the price—we have a new Whole Foods—in Fairfield, what a relief to have ShopRite (whose parent company also owns TFF favorite PriceRite in Bridgeport) in the neighborhood.

Yes, there was a minor crowd of 100 or so anxious shoppers and press at 9:00 a.m.to witness the ribbon cutting and speeches by town and store officials. Yes, there was minor trampling when the doors opened (shoppers rammed carts into my backside and stepped on my sandaled feet numerous times! Folks–it’s only a grocery store for heaven’s sake!). No, there were no giveaways or free coffee (much to my surprise) so you didn’t miss much if you weren’t there.

In a whirlwind walk-through, TFF managed to get some decent deals (grapes .99 cents a pound, frozen ravioli for $1.33 a bag), snagged a few coupons that were being handed out (though I asked for a dozen, the store associate gave me only three), surveyed some prices (some good, some not), and asked about coupon policies which stumped a couple of associates. All in all, it seems like a decent place, utilitarian, and clean (if you want atmosphere and chic design, head to Whole Foods).

The courtesy desk associate said that sometimes there will be triple coupon vouchers in the store flyers—nice perk, but let’s see how often they show up.

price of toothpaste
Watch for tricky price signage at ShopRite. You can easily confuse the price of an item with what you’re “saving.” The cost of the toothpaste here is not .80 cents or $1.00 as the signage above may have you believe if you’re walking down the aisles in a hurry.

One word of warning – the price signage under products can be misleading (see above). The signage emphasizes what you save, not what the actual item costs, which can throw most shoppers for a loop especially when in a rush.

TFF will continue reporting on any good deals at the new ShopRite!

 

 

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