How Much Money Should You Use to Build Your Stockpile?

Stockpiling, a way of life for many couponers, has its challenges, especially when you first start out. The same question keeps popping up from people TFF meets around town or during workshops: how much money do you need per week to stockpile?

It seems that many people who start out couponing/stockpiling believe that they have to start a huge stockpile right away. No. In a nutshell, this is how you start stockpiling and how much money you might use to begin your stash. Please remember, these are just guidelines and tips.

Stockpiling example
Here's a modest, and always revolving, stockpile. Note the coffee!

The answer to how much money you need to stockpile per week is as individual as your budget. For example, if you have a budget of $150 a week for groceries, take about $10, $15 or $20 out of that budget and use it to buy a stock of pasta or shampoo, or whatever is on sale that week that you can buy for rock-bottom prices (hopefully with a coupon, too). So the next week (or couple of months), you won’t have to buy that item because you have a ton of it already. The next week, find another item that’s priced at its rock-bottom cost, and take the same amount of money from your budget, do the same thing as you did last week. Soon enough, you will see your stockpile grow from nothing to 10 boxes of pasta to that plus a whole heck of a lot more.

For more on stockpiling, especially tutorials on how to begin, make sure to go to Stockpiling Moms and pick up their book, it’s full of great tips.

~Marilyn, TFF

Organic Food is Not Just for Rich People

Labeling for products that meet the USDA-NOP s...
Organic food with this label is truly organic. Frugal shoppers can find a lot of great organic purchases in traditional stores now, such as ShopRite, Stop & Shop, and more. Image via Wikipedia

Why the Frugal Should Care about Affording Organic Food

(Please note TFF’s new category: Affordable Organics)

It’s been said that organic food costs at least 20 percent more than conventionally-grown food. Anyone who shops at Whole Foods Market can attest to that. So why is it important for frugal shoppers to care about being able to afford organic food?

As frugal shoppers, we need to prove to everyone that it’s important to put your money where it counts–in our own health and in the health of the next generations to come. It can cost an arm and a leg for our local farmers to obtain organic certification, which is part of the issue. As a result, it’s still the prevailing perception that organic food is only for wealthy people.

This weekend, I was at Manchester Community College for the 30th Annual Conference of the CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association (CT-NOFA) where I was able to be amongst our state’s farmers. (As a brief backgrounder, fourteen years ago, genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced into our food system, and studies show that ingesting GM ingredients leads to health problems which is why supporting organic growers is so vital.) Before the keynote address, Bill Duesing, Executive Director of CT-NOFA, opened his annual review by saying, “Organic Food is Not Just for Rich People.” I couldn’t agree with him more.

To make important and frugal organic food choices, download a wallet-sized list of which fruits and vegetables contain the most harmful pesticides here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/guide/

Get a free app or download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com

Learn about the documented health risks of GMOS here: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/

Frugal shoppers take note: It is not just an old adage–“Health IS Wealth!”

~Aimee, 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

 
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!

 

 

Only the Brave and Frugal Return Cans & Bottles to Grocery Stores

Returning bottles at the grocery store is not for the faint of heart. The return area smells of old beer and wet paper bags, there are broken bits of glass everywhere, and, well, there are many colorful characters elbowing their way to any machine that may actually be in working order–and we’re talking about Fairfield, mind you. But…I admit, I return my bottles and cans for the few bucks here and there.

I had a funny encounter with a bottle-returner at a Fairfield Stop & Shop  just the other day. There were about five of us returning our goods when one young and with-it gentleman told me that he runs an office cleaning business, collects the cans and bottles that workers throw out, and he averages about $100 a week in receipts to pay for his groceries! Now…do the math on how many cans this guy collects!

can
We pay a lot more for that six-pack of soda than we think. Five cents extra for every bottle and can adds up quickly and that's why the frugal-minded return cans and bottles. Photo courtesy free download © Grazvydas | Dreamstime.com

But, this guy was no slouch. He said for a couple of hours of time returning the throw-aways, he pays for groceries, and he told me with a chuckle that he couldn’t care less if anyone laughs at him for doing that.

Well, his $100 beats my $1.50 in bottle/can return weekly receipts. The lesson here is if you have a good working strategy that saves money on expensive groceries, who cares what others think.

How to Shop Price Rite Part Two

As promised in Part One, there is a 5-step process to shopping at Price Rite that you will want to follow to make your trip easier. There will be a Part Three –there is more information from Price Rite that needs to be investigated another day (loyalty cards, etc.).

Address: Price Rite is at 4425 Main Street in Bridgeport. The easiest way from Fairfield is to drive towards Stop & Shop on Madison Avenue, take a turn on Vincelette Boulevard, and follow it to Main Street. Price Rite is on your left.

Note: Price Rite is not a luxury grocery store. You will be going outside of your comfort zone, but in many ways, it is worth it. We know many people have never been to a Price Rite, or avoided the one on Boston Post Road in Bridgeport, but the new one on Main Street is more convenient, cleaner and brighter.

How To Shop Price Rite in Bridgeport:

1. Go as early in the day as you can. Mornings are best.

2. Go on a weekday — weekends are jammed and not fun to shop.

3. Bring your own bags but when you shop, but do not pack them as you shop. You need to put all your groceries on the belt for check out. You can bag groceries AFTER you check out at the front of the store. Just glance up to see what everyone else is doing. Or, you can buy Price Rite bags (they are roomy and durable) for .10 cents each. Many people buy 10 and keep them in the car for reuse.

4. Do not bring coupons, Price Rite does not accept them.

5. They accept all forms of payment.

6. Most important–do not to there and expect to get out quickly. Do not rush through the aisles. People who shop Price Rite are surveying for bargains, so don’t bang into anyone, rush around them or act rude. This Frugal Fairfielder has experienced incredibly rude behavior by Fairfield shoppers towards other shoppers in Trader Joe’s and in the Stop & Shop by the circle near the beach.

7. Be courteous to the check out person. REALLY! Again, there is awful behavior going on in Fairfield in various stores (personally witnessed), but if you are nice to any check-out person you will have a better experience.

4. Go for the store and generic brands (some of the store brands come directly from sister chain, ShopRite–that’s the store that is taking over Shaw’s on Black Rock Turnpike). Most of the generic products that you will find at Price Rite are just like the generic store brand products you will find at any other are store, and they are just fine, taste great, and are well worth it.

5. The meat department seems quite limited–lots of chicken, but no great bargains, so don’t go expecting to find the best bargains there. For example, you can buy boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 at Price Rite, but you can find them for that price mostly anywhere during a sale.

Have a fun and frugal time at Price Rite!