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Old 12-03-2010, 08:05 PM   #41
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...Some say its not worth the effort... well, when my wife buys $300 of groceries and walks out paying under $60 I'd say its worth the effort. ... Not unusual for half the items in the cart to be free, or even better, priced at less than $0.
So humor us and post a list of what she got for such great prices.


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True, which is why we buy the less processed foods and cook/prepare it ourselves. I'll bet your list is full of 2/3 off on "Instant Oatmeal with real life-like replicas of dried fruit and brown sugar and fruit-like processed particles". I'll be impressed when you come up with stuff cheaper than regular bulk oatmeal from Costco, and their Craisins which, IMO tastes better and is probably better for you.

And if you can, I'd really like to know because I like to save a buck, too.

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Old 12-03-2010, 08:21 PM   #42
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We rarely use processed food and I cook from scratch almost every night ( we eat out once a week ) . Where we save with coupons is dishwasher detergent , clothes detergent ( especially when it is buy one get one free and we also use coupons ) , deodorant ,shampoo, toothpaste ,napkins, all my cleaning supplies . As for food we use coupons for butter , pasta , crackers , nuts , eggs ,ground turkey , seasonings , baking supplies( especially around the holidays ),orange juice ,coffee & soda . Plus lots of times we will receive a buy $40 and get $10 off at a local supermarket . If we are not planning on going to that store we use it at our local store .
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:57 AM   #43
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I've never had much luck using coupons. Either there isn't a coupon that fits what I need to buy (and you're actually spending, rather than saving, if you buy something just because you have a coupon ) or there is a cheaper generic brand available. I hear stories about people who save tons with coupons, but I don't see how. I can save a couple of bucks, but no more.

One thing that saves a surprising amount at the grocery store is stocking up on sale items and knowing which local store has the best prices on certain items. I lost the ability to do either of those things when we moved in to the RV, and my grocery bill has more than doubled. Some of that is due to the fact that I'm cooking more, but I'm paying regular price for just about everything I buy now and it adds a lot to the bill.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:36 AM   #44
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I think it is partly a matter of family size, and personality. I start to get depressed if I carry huge bags or boxes of whatever out of a grocery store.

If my food bills get too high, I will eat less. No way am I going to add another book-keeping task or piece of busywork or get in a car to drive to some store across town.

I really could not go around with coupons and lists any longer, though I did buy large supplies of groceries at Costco when I had a family. Once I bought 100# of winter squash for $3, the night before a farm stand was due to get its shipment of Christmas trees. That sure made me happy.

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Old 12-04-2010, 11:42 AM   #45
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I used to clip coupons a lot when I had the Sunday paper delivered, and stuck them on the frig next to the shopping list for the next trip. In most cases, the coupons expired before I needed the product they were discounting.
If a coupon comes with a product, I do save it and use it.
These days, I use my cashback card on all groceries (2%) so I consider that a "coupon" equivalent in itself.
I do have store cards for AutoZone, Price Chopper, Rite Aid and Sears. I use the "buy 9 get 1 free" lunch card for my weekly Chinese buffet.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:00 PM   #46
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Southern Savers is one of the sites which gives strategies. Some say its not worth the effort... well, when my wife buys $300 of groceries and walks out paying under $60 I'd say its worth the effort. She spends hardly any time at it thanks to that site, which tells you how to time the coupons with the non-coupon sales cycles manufacturers have, plus you go where coupons are doubled. Not unusual for half the items in the cart to be free, or even better, priced at less than $0.

I took a look at that Southern Savers site--excellent layout! Anyone know of a similar site for other regions of the country?
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:14 PM   #47
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So humor us and post a list of what she got for such great prices.
Not going to spent an hour of my time going back through receipts, especially since the wife does the grocery shopping and I probably couldn't make heads or tails of them. The savings are real, however. There's plenty of information out there on the Internet. Start at Southernsavers.com, and there are many other sites like that out there, nationally and regionally.

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True, which is why we buy the less processed foods and cook/prepare it ourselves. I'll bet your list is full of 2/3 off on "Instant Oatmeal with real life-like replicas of dried fruit and brown sugar and fruit-like processed particles". I'll be impressed when you come up with stuff cheaper than regular bulk oatmeal from Costco, and their Craisins which, IMO tastes better and is probably better for you.
No oatmeal or Craisons here (yuck). I cook family dinner myself nearly every night (I'm at home, the wife works outside the home). Very little is processed. Most of our food costs come from meats and fresh fruits/veggies. We get meat on sale and put it in the deep freeze, and try buy seasonal fresh fruits/veggies on special, and I make the meals accordingly. Most canned/frozen veggies we get nearly free, as well as condiments, dressings, consumables, etc. Even with 2 kids at home who don't like veggies, I do well (tonight a meatloaf which was really 1/2 ground beef and the other half blended veggies). Quality is pretty good... if I could just get quantity under control I'd lose some weight, lol!

It doesn't take a lot of time to do it, except at first, because you have to figure out how to organize everything initially, and shop according to a schedule. Once that system is in place, its pretty simple. My wife knows a lot more about it than I do... she's given me the overview, but my eyes tend to glaze over when she talks about grocery coupons.

I'm the type who looks for deals with auto parts, computer parts, technology and household goods. My rule of thumb... is to wait for a deal and if its something which is a recurring expense (motor oil & filters for example) I buy in bulk. There is very little I have to get *right now*. I watch sites like woot.com, fatwallet.com, etc. All my music... I get free from promotions through Amazon and other sites. Vacations and travel, we don't schedule around the same time every year like most people... just wait for a major deal to come along and GO! I get that info from Clark Howard's radio show (clarkhoward.com). My DSL (6 mbps) is $14.95/month.
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:35 PM   #48
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My wife just told me about two recent deals she used: 6lbs of flounder fillets for $10! Also, canned tuna for -$0.50 (yes, they do credit it to the total!) by waiting for it to go on sale and then using a coupon which was doubled.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:21 PM   #49
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Not going to spent an hour of my time going back through receipts,
And of course, I'm not asking nor expecting you to detail the entire shopping cart. But a few examples of how you get $300 worth for $60 would help me to understand this. My wife checks out some coupons, but as I've said, it always seems like the 'good' ones are for stuff we wouldn't buy - it's more expensive than the more generic stuff - or we simply wouldn't eat it.

What the heck is wrong with oatmeal and Craisens? Add some almonds (Costco/Kirkland bag, kept in the freezer) and a splash of Costco milk makes a fine breakfast.

I also try to anticipate needs and stock up when I see a good price. I have a huge list in my Amazon basket - when I need a few $ to hit free shipping, or I see the price has dropped, I go for it (only what I need of course).


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My wife just told me about two recent deals she used: 6lbs of flounder fillets for $10! Also, canned tuna for -$0.50 (yes, they do credit it to the total!) by waiting for it to go on sale and then using a coupon which was doubled.
OK, good deals. But is there really enough of those to bring a $300 cart of what you really want down to $60? Color me skeptical. I looked at the southernsavers site, but not knowing what you shop for, it didn't tell me much. Some of the deals I skimmed didn't strike me as much different than a Costco regular price.

-ERD50
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:24 PM   #50
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Coupons are a great deal for things other than groceries. I just went to Staples today to stack 2 coupons, 1 for recycling credit of $100 off and $50 extra off a new HP PC. I upgraded my 2005 Pentium 4 desktop (I left 0.5gb RAM and a 1996 20gb HD in it) for an AMD quad core w/4gb RAM, 750gb HD. Got the price down from $449 to $299 and used all my rewards credit and gift card money. Only paid $242 out of pocket for this.

On the food note, local chain decided to send out pdf coupons to increase sales back in the summer. They were unlimted use coupons, so for 3 weeks, you could get $2 fresh fruit/veggies and fresh baked bread, any type! Needless to say, we loaded up everytime we passed one. We stacked the freezer with all the bread freebies that we could.
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:16 AM   #51
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What the heck is wrong with oatmeal and Craisens? Add some almonds (Costco/Kirkland bag, kept in the freezer) and a splash of Costco milk makes a fine breakfast.
Nothing wrong with oatmeal. Craisins, I got mixed up and was thinking of those yogurt covered raisins. Now, the dried cranberries, I love those on cereal and salad. Sorry about the mix-up

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OK, good deals. But is there really enough of those to bring a $300 cart of what you really want down to $60?
Well, the tuna was one example. She received a 50 cent credit on the grocery bill for each can she bought. Almost all canned, boxed, jarred and frozen goods she waits until she can get them close to free or even better when she can earn credit on them. She'll buy enough to last months since these type of items have very long expiration dates. The credits added to the nearly free items are where the huge savings come into play. Also, we use a credit card registered with upromise.com which for some products credits 1% or more towards a college tuition fund for our boys, and that's in addition to the 1% cash-back the credit card earns at the grocery store.

For eating out, we wait until upromise runs a half off promotion for restaurants.com and then buy about $30 dollars worth. Not only do we get upromise rewards, we also get a $20 restaurant credit about $3 - $5, sometimes even better (if the restaurant allows you to buy a $50 credit for instance). The chains typically don't use umpromise because they are already well known, but lots of charming mom and pops do, and we've found some incredibly good hidden gems this way which are so much better than any of the chains like Longhorn, Outback, etc.

That's why I said most of our costs come from meats and fresh items. Even then, we won't buy them unless they are at least half off. One thing we tried to save on.... mixing powdered milk with regular milk but it tasted horrible on cereal! We have, however, found that powered milk works great in recipes and we can't taste the difference.

In the past 5 years we've gone from savers looking forward to retirement in our 50s to supersavers looking forward to retirement in our mid-40s. Mortgage paid off this year in my early 40s. 2nd home is being rented out for the cost of the mortgage. All vehicles paid off in 4-5 years ago and nothing new since then (we'll drive what we have until they aren't worth keeping then buy used again). We can literally get by as a family of 4 for under $40K per year and the rest is socked away for retirement. And... we're living far better than a $40K lifestyle would "normally" give. With my wife's new insurance we're going to be knocking off another $4800 off our annual budget in 2011. We live in a 3 bedroom brick home with 2 car garage, and full office, bricked in sun room, huge front porch, 2 acres of level land, huge shop building out back for my hobbies (hot rods, computers, carpentry), we go out to eat fairly often, and vacation regularly (except this year due to moving and a lot of business travel), plus we have pretty much all the material goods we want. There is little I pay retail for... even for gas I use $1 off $10 and $2 off $20 coupons Murphy oil. Also, other gas companies run promotions... sign up on their web sites for newletters to get them.

Not saying any of this to boast in any way. I'm just showing that it is possible to retire not only early by wisely investing or having a government pension, but one can retire extremely early from frugal living which doesn't appear frugal. Plus, it gets to be a fun game... I get great pleasure knowing I'm saving a buck.

BTW... anyone wanting a deal, Radio Shack has 5 device universal remotes (in store only, not online) which are USB programmable (doesn't say on the box but there are web sites showing how its done) for 97 cents! I'm picking up 2 today.
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:30 AM   #52
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missionfinder - thanks for the details, I will read more later, gotta run, but a couple quick things -

Maybe I'm thrown off by your "$300 of groceries for $60" - are you saying this is typical, or an occasion thing when you can lump a bunch of coupons together? How many times a year do you come close to that? Sure, you can stock up on sales, but it all averages out - you need to buy, on average, the same amount per week, so those sales need to be a big recurring slice of your grocery cart to make that big of an ongoing impact.

On powdered milk - I wanted to buy some for playing around with the cheese making hobby (some sites say it is actually more dependable for cheese making). I was surprised to see it seemed more expensive than the milk I can get at Costco. Where do you find it for less than fresh?

TIA - ERD50
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:51 AM   #53
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ERD50,

The savings I quoted are the latest trips she took. With each passing month she's gotten better at it, so we didn't do nearly as well earlier this year as we are doing now. A year ago she was lucky to save 20%. She's starting to get very good at it and it looks like a 70-80% savings is starting to be the norm from now on.

I personally don't have the mentality for it; I'm not a good organizer and rely on my smart phone for everything, but she seems to do it very well with it without spending much time on it.

Powered milk runs about $8-9 for a box at Kroger, etc., which makes 5 gallons of liquid milk, so its about $1.70 per gallon - about half the cost of fresh milk around here. I guess its going to depend greatly on local milk prices.
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Old 12-05-2010, 01:08 PM   #54
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But a few examples of how you get $300 worth for $60 would help me to understand this.
This is the system, which pretty much boils down to stock up on stuff that's on sale and use coupons on for those items. I think this does save a ton of money, but I'd never find coupons for stuff I'd ordinarily buy, or they'd expire before the item went on sale. But this site has a "coupon database" which, if good, could really make a big difference.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:54 PM   #55
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Not going to spent an hour of my time going back through receipts, especially since the wife does the grocery shopping and I probably couldn't make heads or tails of them.
Scan please.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:19 AM   #56
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I think the $300 for $60 statement refers to the $300 that the stuff would cost full price at a regular grocery store.

There have been some times when I paid $30 and "saved" $100. Meaning I paid $30 for $130 of groceries, roughly what the OP is claiming. But I would never actually pay $130 for the stuff that I bought - I would go to Walmart and get it for half that or less probably (ie full price at walmart).

So yeah, I may save $30-40 by judicious shopping and waiting for stuff to go on sale and stocking up, but it doesn't happen that often. Mostly buy one get one on meat, or occasionally buy 1 get 2 on something like shrimp. I end up paying maybe 20-30% less than the walmart prices, but my receipt makes it look like I am paying 50-75% less depending on what the promotion is.

A lady I work with buys a lot of processed food and junk using coupons. She tells me about the deals. Most of it is stuff that I could buy as cheaply or cheaper without coupons or don't want anyway. Single candy bars, kids products with cheaper adult alternatives, convenience foods, snacks, frozen entrees, etc. I have gotten some free stuff from her tips - a few loaves of bread, frozen pizzas that I buy anyway at walmart, etc. But these free items are usually limited in quantity and frequently not available at all because they are out of stock.

If I was working for minimum wage, I would definitely be all over these coupon deals. As it is, I can usually get by paying just a little bit more by shopping at Walmart and buying lots of store brands. Fresh meat and produce rarely has coupons, and it is typically much cheaper at Walmart vs. the grocery store. And usually very fresh because of high turnover.
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Old 12-06-2010, 06:25 PM   #57
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I think the $300 for $60 statement refers to the $300 that the stuff would cost full price at a regular grocery store.

There have been some times when I paid $30 and "saved" $100. Meaning I paid $30 for $130 of groceries, roughly what the OP is claiming. But I would never actually pay $130 for the stuff that I bought - I would go to Walmart and get it for half that or less probably (ie full price at walmart).

So yeah, I may save $30-40 by judicious shopping and waiting for stuff to go on sale and stocking up, but it doesn't happen that often.
Thanks, that sounds like a more realistic assessment to me.

Though if someone is really managing to routinely pay 30 cents on the dollar on the stuff I would buy that I already consider is at a reasonable price (not high margin high mark-up fluf), I'm all ears/eyes.

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Old 12-06-2010, 08:15 PM   #58
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Thanks, that sounds like a more realistic assessment to me.

Though if someone is really managing to routinely pay 30 cents on the dollar on the stuff I would buy that I already consider is at a reasonable price (not high margin high mark-up fluf), I'm all ears/eyes.
These folks are paying 30-40 cents on the dollar for stuff you are paying 50-60 cents on the dollar by buying at cheap retail prices at target/walmart/costco.
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:30 AM   #59
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i do use coupons a LOT. I use VERY little in junk or processed food and almost never eat out. Actually, what little junk food I do buy (1-2x/month treat) I generally get at Aldi (cheaper + decnt quality on the items I get).

Sunday I got 4 zhu zhu pets for 6.99 TOTAL for all 4 using coupons + sale.
i bought a TON of Kraft bar, shred and cream cheese when a local store had it on sale + Kraft had a $5 on 5 pkg coupon on their web site. Got 10 pkg for $5. Did the deal once for me and once for DD.

I have bought/will buy Green Giant, Libby and Del Monte canned or frozen veggies on sale + coupons when cheaper than Aldi, generic or store brand. I have several coupons for clementines from last Sun paper. I KNOW several of my local, independent markets run sales on these at this time of year.
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Old 12-07-2010, 04:52 PM   #60
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Some of ya'll are really over analyzing this.

We found prior to couponing that our food bills were higher at Walmart than Kroger and Ingles, not lower. They have a lot of "price drops" and loss leaders but overall we paid more for an average cart.

Plus the meat quality there is extremely disappointing as well as produce (I love fresh peaches, nectarines and apricots). I don't care how good the price, I will not buy meat at Walmart!

This is just my experience with them in the two states I've lived in. YMMV, as regional competition varies.
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