The Joy Of Bargain Hunting

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Let’s talk about how much fun we can have saving money.  I know we simple folk are supposed to be spending to pump up the economy while the rich folk save to pump up their bank accounts, but at this point we’re really stretching it.  Reeeally streeetching it.  I can have as much fun spending money as the next person, but the leaves have fallen on the spending season.  Now it’s time to hunker down save. 

Raise your hand if your job growing up was filling the Green Stamps books.  Did your mother scrape the last of the egg from the shell with her finger, add a little extra water to the frozen orange juice and a tiny bit to the dregs in the ketchup bottle?  My mother was a Depression Era kid, and since I was the oldest, I got in on the starting-out end of my family of origin.  I learned about shopping once a month at the Base commissary, shopping at factory outlets, shopping sales and comparing prices.  Coupons weren’t such a big deal then, but by the time I started my own household, they were worth clipping.  I’m not an extremist, but I’ve always used them to some extent.  Never buy cereal without a coupon, right?

Well nowadays it’s never go to Rainbow/Shoprite/Winn Dixie unless it’s double coupon day.  We’re not shopping, really.  We’re hunting.  I tell Clyde that I’m the hunter-gatherer now.  He’s the builder-protector.  He’s fine with that.  There was a time when he wouldn’t shop with me because of the coupons.  “Coupon Kathy” he calls me, but these days he’s wont to brag me up when I go in for the kill, maybe once a month.  My latest victory was $89.22 savings on a $147.16 bill, which meant that I paid $57.94.  (Yes, I saved the tape.  It’s like a trophy.)  I was behind a young couple—cute story—who were seriously coupon shopping.  They split up in 2 orders so each could get the maximum doubled coupons.  The guy was more into it than his wife, and really proud of their accomplishment.  He was bagging his groceries when the cashier rang me up, and he gleefully congratulated me.  “Nice savings!” he said.  Isn’t that cute?  And we visited about the good deals while we packed our cloth bags.

That tape also shows that we were up to $.95 a gallon on fuelperks, which is Clyde’s idea of taking a scalp at the gas station.  So he’s coming around.  

I watch for sales on things I use, make a list, clip coupons from the Sunday paper while I watch TV, and make sure I pay attention to the sales fliers for maximum satisfaction, which comes with little victories like having a coupon on top of a sale price or getting a BOGO and having a coupon on the buy. Or getting coupons for freebies!  Generally I save 40-60% on big box grocery trip.  I don’t keep an album of coupons–I have envelopes–and I don’t have a stockpile of deodorant in the basement.  (By the way, from what I’ve read, “the TV show “Extreme Couponing” is set up.  Typical “reality” show.)   Trader Joe’s is my favorite store for quick stops–produce, bread, certain staples–and they don’t take coupons, but their prices are really good on what they sell.  And we’re getting a Whole Foods soon!

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We’ve all done our office/school supplies shopping for the year now, haven’t we?  You don’t want to miss those July-August deals.  I do stockpile this stuff.  Folders, notebooks, pencils—great loss leaders at a penny, nickel, 5 for $1 and like that.  So, yes, money’s tight these days, but it’s fun to save, improvise, make your own.  Attitude is everything, kids.  We’ll get through this.

And the more we save on eggs and ketchup, the more we can spend on books.  ONE BRAVE COWBOY will be in stores Sept 20—available for preorder now.  But pile on the comments today, share your money-saving tips, and I’ll draw one name at the end of the day and send out the winner’s choice from an earlier book from the series.

books 2-5 trimmed

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About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in books, coupons, giveaway, Kathleen Eagle, ONE BRAVE COWBOY, saving money, shopping and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Joy Of Bargain Hunting

  1. Minna says:

    Money-saving tips? I swap stuff. A lot. All those things in my closets I don’t need anymore or which I’ve made and don’t wish to keep (like some crocheted Angry Birds characters) are like money in the bank. Just recently I for instance swapped some pretty cards for yarn and a sweater I didn’t like for a pan. Best of all, I didn’t even have to mail the sweater, because the person who owned the pan lived near by.

  2. carole says:

    I never go shopping without my coupons, my daughter helps me look for deals, especially since we have alot of stores that you can buy one and get one free, went shopping the other day and spent a total $1.00 on Dole salads. It was buy one free, had a couple for $2.00 if you bought 2bags plus the bags and a $1.00 coupon. So I walked out with 4 bags of lettuce for a dollar,the man behind me was asking me how i did that, so he went looking for the store coupon. It was a nice feeling for we eat a bag of lettuce almost every night. I have a friend who’s alot better than I but I’m learning, my daughter is really good too!

  3. Leann says:

    I grew-up going to discount stores, my birthday and Christmas gifts always included more clothes than toys, and when I started babysitting the money I made was saved not spent (mostly). My kids have learned that mom won’t buy it (meaning pretty much anything) for them unless it’s on sale AND I have a coupon. A friend of mine came to my rescue just over a year ago and taught me all about couponing. I don’t mean clipping a coupon here and there, I mean having a system that includes a file box full of coupon inserts and my 3 ring binder that I carry into Rainbow with me packed full with more coupons. Double Daze are the only day I can’t help at my kids school…I’m busy grocery shopping! LOL That said, I have to admit that I don’t search out the best deals on my own. My friend clued me into a few couponing sites that make saving money a cinch. Between Pocketyourdollars.com and TotallyTarget.com I save between 50-60 percent on my groceries each week. My best week I saved 86%!! I think the best way to save is to be honest about what you NEED and what you WANT.

  4. Kathleen O'Donnell says:

    I must admit I am not much of a coupon hunter, But I do scoure the sale papers to see if what I need is on sale. And if there is a coupon for what I need. I am the only person in my household, so I don’t stock up on a lot of things. But I do buy paper products and household items when they are on sale even it I don’t need them at the time.. And when my mom was in the nursing home I would buy two or three items at a time, because I knew she would need them too. Especially Kleenex tissues.
    And oh I remember filling out those green stamp coupon books.. We got some great dishes with those books as I remember and glassware.
    I watch my pennies and only buy what I need at the time. I need all those extra pennies to help me with my book addiciton…

    • Speaking of glassware, I also VAGUELY remember when jelly came in glasses with cartoon characters on them and you’d get stuff like glasses buried in boxes of detergent. I think that’s where Depression glass came from, too. I remember those pink glass pieces on my grandmothers’ shelves. They’re collectible now.

  5. Laurie G says:

    Now that my children are married or in college ,I don’t have to buy very much food. Ido love BOGO!! I have to really curb myself and ONLY BUY what I need. I try to shop on double coupon days too. I’m one that cuts a lot of coupons then forgets to use them. STUPID! I try to send in for rebates too. I just sent for $3.00 off a bottle of wine. I was able to get 42 ounce M&M’s BOGO for $10.00 plus a $1.00 off coupon. That was 84 oz for $9.00 a lot of chocolate, but I’m throwing a baby shower Sept 17th, it will get eaten.

    Congrats on your success couponing!

    • That’s the key, isn’t it, Laurie? Don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale and you have a coupon unless you’re going to donate it. When I shop the school supply sales I run into people who are picking stuff up to donate to schools, somethimes through a church.

  6. michelehauf says:

    My daughter has become the coupon queen in the family. She’ll go into Target and walk out with $100 worth of stuff for like $10. Amazing. And it takes some work to figure all the right days and ways to make those coupons work. Alas, I think I’m too lazy. I also shop at TJoes because they have good prices and good food. Rarely go to Cub Foods now. I’ve decided I will pay more for better, higher quality food. I’ll eat a little less of it, and it’ll still go farther than the cheap processed food does.

  7. Laney4 says:

    We don’t have green stamps in Canada, nor have I heard of any stores nearby that have double coupon days.
    My two high-school girlfriends and I (who live two hours from each other) get together every few months for a day of gab and exchanging (and we bring easy-to-make potluck items to eat for lunch and supper so preparing food doesn’t deter us from our mission!). It’s like Christmas to us. We offer each other our unwanted coupons; books and magazines that are later passed on to a local senior residence; shampoos etc. from hotels and time shares; toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss from dentists; perfumes etc. from online freebies; etc etc etc. We always set aside a bunch of these necessities and donate them to a local women’s shelter as well. Saving is “savoured” when shared with friends, I must say. We always email each other with our latest deals.
    Our Zellers store recently had 10% off everything one weekend, and I had printed three coupons from the Internet re bonus points for using my Zellers card. So off I went to Zellers and price matched with all my local grocery stores to get sale prices on groceries I needed, I bought Zellers’ sale items, I redeemed $19.50 of my own coupons, I got that 10% off every single thing I purchased, and I submitted those bonus coupons that equalled another $11.50 to be redeemed from points at a later time. I was ecstatic, needless to say (but I said it anyway, LOL).
    I find that the more I use my Zellers card, the more often they send me coupons. Last week I received a $15 off coupon, so I bought $15.92 of bread on sale and got the $15 off. The cashier couldn’t believe I put 92 cents back onto my card, but it does add up. I also received a 15% off coupon that expires Sept 30, and I know I will do some price matching again soon so I can use that coupon.
    BTW, I keep my coupons in a pencil case in my purse at all times, using homemade dividers for easy retrieval.
    I also rarely buy food if it isn’t on sale. I went 5 months without pork chops and steaks because they were $3.59 a pound on sale – and then I realized I could buy the roasts for $1.99 a pound and cut them up myself. Duh! I will only buy ANY meat if it works out to less than $1.50 per portion.

    • Kathleen O'Donnell says:

      We did have green stamps in Canada when I was a little girl,But they stopped them somewhere in the late 60;s…

    • Oooh, great tips, Laney. I especially like the girlfriends’ exchange day. What a great idea! I’m going to propose that to my girlfriend all-too-infrequent gathering. We try for monthly at central location gatherings, but it doesn’t always work out. We call ourselves Prairie Writers Guild, and we go way back.

  8. catslady says:

    Oh I have done it all and still do. When I was a stay at home mom I spent hours every day doing rebates and had bagfulls of UPC’s. Now I can do some reabates online but it’s not like it use to be. I do get double coupons though where I shop. I get made fun of because I wash the ziplock bags and reuse them until they spring holes lol. Unfortunately, my husband is the total opposite from me. I came from a thrifty family and he was an only child who had not. I console myself as I count pennies and he spends them that at least it would be worse if one of us didn’t try lol.

    • The spoiled kid is lucky to pair up with a thrifty mate. My parents were like that. Mama had to watch the checking account because Daddy didn’t want to know how much money there was. She’d throw up her hands and say, “You take over,” and he’d screw it up just so she’d take it back. Daddy was a pilot with his head in the clouds. When Mama worked “outside the home” she was a bank teller.

  9. Helen Brenna says:

    Boy, I haven’t thought of those green stamp books for a long, long time! I still like to clip coupons and it’s interesting how much press that’s getting lately. I’ve heard there’s even a new reality show, extreme couponers, or something!

  10. I watched it once and felt like a novice, but I’ve read since then that the show makes special arrangements with the store so the usual limitations don’t apply. Typical “reality.”

    Helen, you’re much to young to remember Green Stamps.

  11. Hey, guys, I just got back from running an errand and I really scored at Coldwater Creek. Had a $25 “come back to us” coupon that came in the mail and a different $25 off coupon from a magazine. They accepted both, and I was able to put together a fallish outfit from sale items–30% off already marked down stuff. Woo-hoo! I am Woman, hear me roar!

  12. Quilt Lady says:

    I do use coupons when I can. The only really stores I have to shop in is Walmart and Kroger. I watch the sale bills and buy when things are on sale. I usually hit Kroger first and get what’s on sale there and then hit Walmart. If Kroger has something on sale and I get my limit on it then I hit Walmart and make them comp the price. I buy ahead when I can. My landry room is full of soda right now because Kroger has had it on sale. My college son and husband drink a lot of soda.

  13. kylie brant says:

    I admire people who are smart shoppers. The ones who hit the sales, find bargains and save money. When I make a big purchase I do a lot of research ahead of time to figure out the best value for the price. But when I’m shopping otherwise I’m not much of a sales hound. I detest shopping anyway and clothes shopping the most. So I don’t like spending more time in the store comparing prices…I just want to grab and go. I do get some good shoes on sales though because I have midget feet and that size is always left over!

  14. Leanne Banks says:

    I LOVE bargains, but have to admit, I’m not big on coupons. Tried to use a coupon last week-end at Steinmart, but since my item wasn’t on sale, it wasn’t eligible.:/ So I didn’t buy it.lol I’m going to have to get on board and take some notes from your blog and all these great suggestions!

  15. bkrahn007 says:

    I like coupons, but I don’t have much time for them. I frequent a Publix nearby and watch their sales and buy some things in bulk at BJ’s warehouse club. but i don’t spend much money these days, anyway. I rarely get to shop at all! wuh.

  16. Stephenia says:

    I swap alot with my sisters. Sis #2 and I swap lotions, clothes, even shoes. Sis #1 and I swap books (this past year I got a kindle, she a nook, so we don’t have as many to swap anymore). I also try to just buy what I really want and use it up – this pertains alot to clothes I have two really great pair of jeans instead of 4 or 5. We also try not to stockpile too much…it is nice to buy an extra package of something consumable when it is on sale, but not 3-4. I also try to minimize my shopping experiences, the less I browse, the less I purchase things.

    • Stephenia, I think making a point to buy only what you need and therefor truly want is so important. I make a point to walk away and give myself time to think about anything major. Sleep on it. If you go back the next day, chances are it’s right.

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