The following is a guest post from Jenn at Frugal Upstate.
I am a confirmed frugalite – heck I’ve been writing about it for 3 years – and I have a confession to make.
I do not use coupons.
Yes, I know. Tara about had to pick her jaw up off the ground when I first told her. Not use coupons? What kind of heresy is this?? It doesn’t even seem I should be allowed to be a card-carrying member of the blackbelt frugality club without using coupons.
So let me explain.
1. We do not get the newspaper. Since we don’t receive the newspaper, I have no easy ready source of coupon inserts. Yes, I know I could ask my friends if I could have their inserts, but they all seem to either use theirs or else not get the paper regularly either. I also could buy the paper just for the inserts, but then I’d want to be assured that I not only recouped my $1.75 but actually saved enough beyond that to make the entire exercise worthwhile. Which leads to . . .
2. I don’t purchase prepared meals or cleaning products (to include laundry soap – I make my own), rarely purchase myself new makeup, and am not particularly brand loyal on personal care items (with the exception of Crest toothpaste for Yankee Bill, my hubs. After all, the man puts up with my washing out Ziploc baggies. The least I can do is get him the toothpaste he likes). I mostly cook from scratch and things like flour, eggs, milk, etc., rarely have coupons.
3. The grocery stores I patronize are 30 minutes away, as are the CVS, etc. Because of time involved, and the price of gas, I only make that trip every 7 to 10 days. I try to combine all my errands on that one day – grocery shopping, Walmart run, specialty stores, thrift store shopping etc., etc., etc. Plus, I have to be home by 2:15 to meet the bus! So my time is limited and rushed when I am in town. There is a very tiny Rite Aid (which normally doesn’t have 2/3 of the things in the flier) and a local grocery chain that has all the basics, but at a premium price.
Because of these three factors, I find that coupon shopping take more time and effort than I personally think it is worth for my family.
I can hear you out there thinking, “Well Jenn, then what do you do?”
I’ll tell you!
When I first moved here, 4 years ago, I made a price book of the typical foods that I buy. I then compared prices at Aldi, Save-A-Lot, Walmart, Price Chopper, Sam’s and MAINES (a restaraunt supply warehouse open to the public). From that comparison I found that Aldi and Save-A-Lot’s everyday prices beat the cheapest non-sale price at all the other sources (with Aldi beating out Save-A-Lot by a hair).
From that research I decided that with my time constraints and lifestyle the best choice was for me to buy my staples at Aldi or Save-A-Lot. There are some items I buy that are not sold at those stores, so I typically buy those at either Walmart or Price Chopper. When I do that, I use unit pricing to determine the most frugal choice.
There you have it, a coupon-free strategy that works for me. :)
Jenn Fowler blogs at Frugal Upstate about ways to “Use what you have, get creative & save,” and co-hosts the radio show Frugal Coast2Coast every Monday night at 8:30pm EST. She believes that anyone can live a full and interesting life, on a budget!