It starts as a whisper… rising food prices. A mention here, a comment there. Then you go shopping and it screams, RISING FOOD PRICES, when you see the price of a dozen eggs.
For the frugal, this is bad news so I decided to research the reasons. Ethanol seems to be the culprit according to an article at Technology Review published by MIT. Now, MIT has credibility in my book so I not only read the article, but all the responses. And, guess what? I’m too intellectually challenged to figure out the macro-implications of Ethanol, corn prices, oil prices, etc. All I know is gas and food prices keep climbing. However, at least with gas we have options: carpool, make fewer trips, make more productive trips, walk, bike (all of which are good for the environment; some even benefit our waistlines.) But, we all have to eat.
Since there’s no apparent end in sight to escalating fuel prices, food costs will continue to rise as well. Add to that the fact that you get less bang for your buck thanks to inflation and, if you’ve never considered couponing before it seems now might be the time to start.
So, today I offer my top ten reasons to coupon:
1) Save money on familiar items.
You’re going to buy it anyway. We can’t always tie our coupon to a sale, but we can often put what we purchase on sale by using coupons.
2) Try new items.
Manufacturers are always trying to ‘one-up’ the competition. New product launches are everywhere. Us frugal types like that! Why? When items are introduced, the manufacturers need to introduce US to the item and that means coupons – usually really, really good ones! When I can try something for free, or next to it, I do. We may only use it that one time, but we always pick up the dollars dangling in front of us. If we don’t want or need it, we’ll know someone who does.
3) Trade up to the name brand at the same price or less.
I like Miracle Whip. I’ve tried lots of store brands and none come close to the real thing. By combining a coupon and sale, I seldom pay more than $0.50 or a $1 for it. Couldn’t touch a generic for that price!
4) Be generous.
I’m going shopping today and plan to buy 23 boxes of Rice-A-Roni or Pasta-Roni and I don’t even have a coupon. (Oh, and two boxes of Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix @ 2 for $4 – here I have a coupon so it’s 2 for $3 to me)
Am I nuts? Nope. Here’s the deal. They’re selling for $1 each. If you buy 25 items, you get $20 back for your next sale. So, I spend $26 and get $20 back. Great item to go in my box for the homeless/food banks (well, except for the brownies…)
5) Get FREE stuff
An ice cream cone, vitamins, a free dinner, a map, a pillow. All of the above have left the retailers establishment in my frugal little hands for zip, zilch, nada in the last couple months. We also use a lot of BIGIF dinner coupons. Free is the best frugal of all!
6) Do stuff
You already know about our free NFL Experience tickets. We’ve found coupons for free buckets of balls (that’s golf folks), received free movie passes (last year’s Pepsi promo), attended free seminars (granted, they want to sell you something. Watch for a future post on that). If you’re watching, you’ll be doing, no charge!
7) Build Inventory
In #4 we said coupons allow you to be generous. Maybe you’re not in that position. Maybe every coupon means a chance to buy something you need. For $6, you can make a lot of meals by adding tuna or hamburger. By the way, hamburger is NOT cheap anymore!
Here’s a frugal tip: Watch for round steak or roast on sale and have the butcher grind it. Today we’ll be paying $1.29 lb. Bought any 80/20, or even 73/27 that cheap lately? In spaghetti, chili, tacos, or casseroles it’s better than hamburger (less grease.)
8) Feeling Frugal Factor
It feels GOOD! Other people leave the store muttering, moaning, cursing as they look at their receipts. Me? I’m grinning, high-fiving hubby, feeling proud at what I kept from THEM. Make it a contest – you vs. Big Business. Who won this round? I did, I did!!
9) It’s Simple & Immediate
Many times a rebate will give you a bigger price reduction, but that’s six to eight weeks from now, if they receive the rebate, and you complied, and, and, and… I’ll tackle REBATING – NOT FOR WIMPS soon, but for now, let’s take an example. Walgreen’s offered Fructis Conditioner for $3.99. Send in the rebate and it’s zero. I found it on sale for $1.99, used my coupon and paid $0.99. I’d rather not chase the $3.
And, the #10 Reason to Coupon:
It often (not always, mind you) reduces your local sales tax. Some establishments tax the total sale, then take off the coupon. We don’t care for them. Others, the ones we like, take off the coupon, then total and tax.
Here’s another Frugal tip: If you live in a metro area with lots of suburbs, tax rates often vary from city to city. Now, the loyal side of me is all for leaving my tax dollars where I live, but the frugal side says, if it’s a large purchase, I’m going to buy where the government increases the price of my purchase the least.
And, remember, a Frugal Fiction book? $3.99. Reading with your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!