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.

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries l...
NOT what I buy! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure people were so fired up about couponing before that dang TLC show about extreme couponing came along. But every naysayer thinks that people who use coupons buy loads of junk food one step up from the fast food chains. (Oh, how I wish I could find out how many people who write negative comments about coupons frequent McDonald’s or other fast food establishments I wouldn’t be caught dead in… I’m sure more than a few…). Here’s the reality of most couponers (not those on television): we save money on non-grocery and grocery items using coupons, and so we can buy good meat and fresh produce. If I can get razors and toothpaste for free-ish using coupons, that money goes towards fruits and veggies. Most of us are not like the woman in Erie, Pennsylvania, featured on “Extreme Coouponing” who has a locked door to a special room in her basement filled with cookies and snacks, called “Mom’s Cookie Room.”

One Canadian blogger tried to explain her healthy couponing in this informative, helpful article–and then she was lambasted by a reader in the comments section–you may want to read her gracious reply to this reader. Another healthy couponing article by Shape Magazine listed Lean Pockets as a healthy food to buy with coupons. I would never be caught dead with a package of highly processed Lean Pockets in my house. The article also lists Yoplait yogurt, which I know is high in sugar. My take away from these articles: we all have different definitions of what eating healthy means for us–some of us prescribe to healthy-enough while others are more strict. We don’t have to agree with each other, but let’s have a healthy level of respect for one another.

Most of us have heard health advocates, such as the Mayo Clinic, say to avoid any inner aisles of grocery stores food. So, besides buying cereals, pasta, crackers and decent cookies (when I don’t make from scratch) inside the store perimeter, ingredients for tomato sauces, and always flour, sugars, oils and other baking and condiment needs, my own cart is filled with perimeter groceries. It is most definitely not filled with fruit roll-ups (tons of coupons for those) and the like!

Speaking of perimeter groceries, there ARE coupons and sales for those! You have to find the store in your area that holds the best perimeter sales. Thankfully, ShopRite has produce Super Coupons, and besides that, I’ve been able to use manufacturer’s coupons to buy almonds, raisins, protein bars, orange juice, cheeses, yogurts (favorite is Activa), organic eggs, organic milks…with coupons matched with sales! Maybe there are not coupons  and sales for all the items all the time, but most of the time, I’m able to frugally shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

Here’s a small sampling of recent purchases using coupons/sales at ShopRite for fresh/healthy foods:

  • Sale: $1.29 a pound for organic apples
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: whole pineapple $1.49
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: broccoli or cauliflower .99 cents a lb.
  • Coupon + Sale: Blue Diamond Almonds (not in perimeter but healthy) for $1.50 a can.
  • There’s always BOGO sales on potatoes, carrots, and onions–which reminds me of the bags of baby organic carrots for $1.66 each on sale, no coupons needed.

Here is a short list of alternative coupons I used to get healthy items:

  • Groupon to Whole Foods ($10 for $20 worth of items and I bought meat and poultry)
  • Fairfield Coupon to Fountain of Youth ($9 for $20 worth of items in this organic store in Westport, and I plan to buy produce and/or meats)
  • I use the coupon booklets from Whole Foods, as well. Sometimes you get amazing deals, as you can read about in one of our posts.

    Buying frugal chicken at Whole Foods
    I bought nine packages of antibiotic-free chicken drumsticks at Whole Foods because they were affordable at .99 cents a pound thanks to a 70% off sale. Good to know that even Whole Foods has super sales! Photo: TFF

It’s always possible to buy frugally around the perimeter using coupons and sales, or just sales. To all of the coupon critics: Buy frugally around the perimeter by simply reading the store’s sales flyers!

~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

Undercover at New ShopRite in Fairfield, CT

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!