Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Cheapness, Part One

Why haven't I posted, you might ask? Because I got it in my head that I wanted to write this deal about being frugal and all and can't seem to make myself actually write it even though 10 times a day I think of something else I want to add. I'm going to start now and whether I actually finish will remain to be seen. And it might depend on how tired I get, how well my brain continues working, or what might come on TV. I’m easily distracted. (Oh, look! Turtles!) (10 points for naming that movie.) (See? How distracted?) (GAH!)

Perhaps a list would help my mind take control. Ahem…

Pigs’ Tips for Living Frugally While Not Sacrificing What You Want.

That’s an awfully long title. Surely I can be more concise.

How to Be Cheap. By Pigs.

There. That seems more appropriate. As long as we’re talking about not wasting, we should start with words, eh? (What, I’m Canadian now?)

1. Most importantly: The Coupon. The coupon alone is not really worth that much. The coupon when paired with your grocery store’s handy dandy sales ad is magical. If you have a grocery store that doubles or triples coupons, match those bad boys up with a sale and you’ve got yourself a deal.

2. Let’s say you want to get yourself some more coupons. Well, you have a few options. You can look online at websites like You can go to the actual product website that you are seeking and see if they have any printables available. If you have a product that L-L-LOVE and must have whether it’s on sale or not, you might email that company and rave about their product. I would be surprised if they did not give you much free stuff. I am a big fan of calling that 1-800 number on food packaging. (“Hi, Dannon? Yes, Pigs again. I was wondering if you could tell me if the date on your packaging is sell by or use by? What? You want to send me a free product coupon? Well, thank you!”)

In my neck of the woods, I’ve discovered a lovely way to get more coupons….get on the train, and ride it! (hoo hoo!) A coupon train, that is. There’s a few other nerds in my neighborhood who like to coupon too [if you can use “coupon” as a verb, you’re clearly extra cool] and each week we pass our Sunday newspaper coupons around and like magic, 6 sets of coupons from the last six weeks appear in your mailbox for your perusal! Voila!

Or, you could buy more newspapers – Zzzzzzzzzzz….

3. I will continue on the joy that is the coupon. Check with your store to find out about their coupon policy. Some stores take competitor’s coupons (Publix). Some stores let you stack their store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons for a double whammy (Target, Publix). Some stores let you load all kinds of nifty e-coupons onto your shopper card and use those in addition to paper coupons! (Kroger) Check into sites like,, and You, too, can be a geek like me.

4. What happens when the stuff on sale is stuff I don’t need? Well, this has a two part answer. Maybe three. We’ll see how wordy I am tonight. First, does it cost any money? If the answer is yes, and you don’t need it, don’t buy it. If the answer is a tiny bit of money (under a quarter?) and you will use it at some point and it won’t go bad, get it. (see point 6 ahead) If the item is totally free, I get it regardless, because there is always someone who can use it, whether it’s a neighbor or the food pantry. You can donate almost anything non-perishable. The final question is “Does it earn me extra money?” and this will take us to #5.

5. Extra money? From the grocery store? This is a fun little bit called “overage”. When your coupons are above the value of the product you are buying, it sometimes creates overage, or money that should technically be your change, but you kind of look like a jerk walking out with products and change. My use of overage is to put it toward things that I can’t get coupons for, things that I need, things that don’t go on sale. Produce, meat, milk, bread, DIAPERS. Good Lord, the diapers. I won’t pay more than $6.99 for Pampers, but that’s still $6.99 that someone’s going to be pooping in. It pains me to think about it too hard. Overage is your friend.

6. This doesn’t flow well from #5, but I mentioned it above and it is the stockpile. Things go on sale at certain times of the year and coupons and generally coincide with these sales. For example, Kleenex are often on sale September-November. Why? Because people are finished buying them for back to school and in need of them because their little monsters are back in school spreading the germs around. Soups are on sale now, because….it’s cold. Duh. And so on. When things are on repeated sales/coupons, it’s good to stock up on them whether you need them or not to create your stockpile that you can pick out of during the sale drought. You should see my basement and closets. There are parts of my house that resemble a grocery store. My pride will not allow me to share photos.

7. Since I’m on a roll with the grocery business, let’s finish that topic up. This brings us to meal planning. I plan my dinners each week based on what I already have in the house and what produce and meats are on sale at the store. This in itself really saves a lot of money. Our meals almost always provide leftovers for our lunches as well. ‘Cause I have a hangup about not eating cold stuff for lunch, which is irrelevant, but interesting.

8. Finally, to finish up the groceries, a couple of things that I’m partial to, but might not jive with you. These are just a matter of preference. First, markdowns. I find that I am able to find really great deals on meats, cheese, eggs, and milk/yogurt products that are marked down to half or less at my store because they are within a week or days or their sell by dates. All meat that I buy goes straight into the freezer when I get home anyway, so this one is a no brainer for me. Milk and cheese (shredded) will also freeze. My boys eat yogurt like Hoovers, so there’s no worries there on the dates.

9. Second, store brands. Anything I can’t get on sale or with a coupon but I need for a meal I am totally open to trying the store brand. I’d say 75% of the time I’m okay with it. Being brand picky is not something that I’m guilty of anymore. My favorite brand is now Free.

10. To wrap up, I’d say set a budget. I set a grocery budget and an eat out budget, mostly as a matter of personal challenge. My grocery budget, which includes diapers, beauty/health products and paper products is $40/week. Sometimes I’m a little over or under, but I’m usually close. Our weekly eat out budget is $20. I’m a wizard with restaurant coupons, kids eat free nights, and

There you have it, friends. A synopsis of my grocery-ing ways. I’ve outed myself as the cheapest person you know. Please don’t judge me too harshly.

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