Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being Frugal, your key to preparedness?

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today we are going to get back to focusing on simple ways you and I can be prepared and practical things we can do that will help us in our journey. Today we are going to talk about some very simple tips on frugality and how we can save money... and in doing so maybe even build our larder? Yep, it's true... So lets get into some simple ideas that can help you each month trim down on some of your expenses and help stretch our limited dollars as far was we can make them go. I don't pretend to be an expert, but here of some of the ideas and things that I have been using, or have tried in the past and plan to tighten down my own shopping habits for 2012.

Save gas and money?
No this isn't a gas saving driving tip, but it could save you some gas and wasted time. So one of the things that has come to my attention is the fact that every week you will see grocery store fliers in the mail. They list the weekly advertisements for their sale items. Well I used to find myself driving all over the place to go and get the sale items, until recently I overheard the cashier at my local Walmart tell me that they will match any advertisement sale prices. In other words you bring in the ad for the week and pickup the same or equivalent item at Walmart and take the ad to the checkout and show them the sale price, and they will match it. No more running all over town to pickup the sales items. Save yourself some time and frustration. I plan on taking them up on this one and see just how it works for me and I will keep you posted. It has been brought to my attention that many stores will price match local ads so you might want to check your local store to see if that is the case where you shop.

Clip your way to prosperity?
Well a number of years ago I ran across an article talking about coupon clipping... OK, hold on, you can bring your eyes back into focus... No clipping like that... That is a lot of work! This was an article about a program you could subscribe to. The way it works is like this. You subscribe to or buy your local Sunday paper(the one with the coupon insert in it). You subscribe to this coupon web site, and put in your zipcode. It will then list your local stores that participate in the coupon insert program database that they are tracking. You can select your preferred stores from the list that you would like to shop at. They also tell you which stores if any double or multiply the face values on the coupons. Now for the fun part. Each week as your coupon insert arrives you simply take it out, write the date on it, and put it in a folder. No clipping, no cutting, no work... Just file it away. Now each week your going to get an email with the sales items for you stores you selected, AND reference to the matching coupons that you have filed away. It will tell you the date of insert the coupon came from. You simply clip the coupons that you need for the week. Leave all the rest in the insert and file it away.

The idea with this program is this.
1. Your only buying sales items.
2. You using coupons on top of sales prices for those items.
3. Over the space of a couple of months you will have plenty of inserts with coupons to draw from.
4. The longer you play this grocery game the more you will save as you will have more coupons to draw from.
5. You continue to buy the items you know you use and put them away in your larder every week, and over the course of a couple of months you will find that most of your daily use items will have been accumulated in your larder.

Now, what are the gotchas? Well for starters you cannot be picky about name brands. When a sale item for something like deodorant comes up you buy it regardless if it is your brand... you name the item and you cannot be brand loyal here. By doing this we capitalize on sales prices, and coupons applied to those sales prices. You buy these needed items and put them up in your larder. It is always a good idea to keep generic store brands in mind as you see sales prices. Sometimes even after the sales price + coupon the generic store brand is still cheaper so always do a quick check to make sure that your really getting a deal. Just because something is on sale does not mean it is the best bang for the buck so keep your eyes open.

Things that are needed to play this coupon game? Well you need a couple of things. There are several web sites dedicated to this type of shopping. The one I have used is called and have found it has worked well for me in the past and I intend to pick up where I left off playing the game again. In order to play along you need to buy a Sunday paper or subscribe to the Sunday paper so that you can get the weekly coupons. Only other thing you need is to get a big collapsible folder with dividers in it to keep track of your inserts. I found that by using this program I didn't wast a lot of time clipping, organizing, or otherwise driving myself insane. The program keeps track of what is on sale, and keeps track of what coupons are out there that you can use. The only clipping your doing is just for the items your planning on buying that week. Over the course of a couple of months you will find that your larder will start to fill with the items you bought at a big savings. I on average was saving about 20-30 bucks a week when I was in full swing with this program. Some weeks a lot more than that. So it is really up to you to play along, and enjoy the heck out of it when you check out and they tell you what you saved. It really puts a big smile on your face.

So depending on what your local paper costs plus the cost of this program is all you expenses for it. The cost for a 1 store membership is $10 every 8 weeks. That works out to about $1.25 per week. A 2 store membership is $15 every 8 weeks, a 3 store membership is $20 every 8 weeks and so on. So depending on how many stores you want to shop will increase your cost of the membership. What I chose to do is to find out which stores double coupons and that is the store I chose for my store tracking so that I could maximize my savings on the items I purchased. The good news is there is a free trial so you can sign up and track multiple stores and then decide at the end of the trial which ones worked best for you.

Here is a cool little video that shows how The Grocery Game works:

Frugal your way to Preparedness?
You bet! If you follow some of these tips you just might find that the stores your shopping will match the sale prices of their competitors. If you play along with the grocery game or other coupon clipping systems you can maximize your coupons and your sales items. If you continue to add items you know that you will need over time and stock it away you will find in the space of a couple of months you will be effectively copy canning your way into a larder at the best prices possible and saving yourself a bunch of cash.

I have no affiliation with The Grocery Game other than I have and plan to continue to be a customer of theirs as the program works for me. In an economy like ours it is worth the time, a little bit of cost, and effort to save yourself some serious cash each month. So give these tips a try and see if they don't help you become prepared!

BTW, A quick way to see what stores in your area might double coupons try following this link:

Here is a great sticky on a forum thread by other frugalista's and you might gain some additional insight from the experts.

Take Care,

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