How to Pinch a Penny Till it Screams

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 6:00
Posted in category Shopping
<div class=\"postavatar\">How to Pinch a Penny Till it Screams</div>

Post written by Tanya Doyle

How to Pinch a Penny Till it Screams

In these economically challenged times stretching finances for everyone requires a bit of creative thinking.  Every penny counts and the bottom line screams with every pinch.  But, with a little planning and effort you can trim some serious pork from your household expenses and fatten your pocket.  One of the easiest ways to save is by starting with your grocery bill.  Of course, rule #1 is to never, ever shop when you are hungry.  You will inevitably throw food into your cart that you wouldn’t buy if you weren’t starving.  If you’re not a coupon clipper this is definitely a good time to start.  If you don’t already, check into having the Sunday newspaper delivered.  One or two redeemed coupons will cover the cost of the paper and there’s always the added bonus of the comic section!  Our paper costs about a dollar to deliver on Sunday and I probably average about $25 to $40 a week from a $1 investment.  Every penny saved is a penny earned but at a rate of 25 to 40 times the investment, I’ll scream about $100 to $160 a month of saved profit.  It may sound silly but only clip coupons for stuff that you will actually use.  If you buy something simply because you can get it cheaper with a coupon but it’s not something you’ll use, then you would’ve been better off if you’d just thrown the coupon in the trash bin.  Another great coupon resource is to sign up with sites online such as couponmom, couponorganiser, redplum, couponcabin, etc.  For more coupon sites you can just google coupon and you could spend most of your life sorting through all the available sites. 

Kroger and Safeway both have a program in partnership with Procter & Gamble. You can register your existing club card for the program then log into your account, choose the coupons that you want to use and load them onto your card. Voila!  Now the coupons are linked to your card in the computer system so when you go to your local store and buy the qualifying item, the coupon is automatically deducted as soon as you swipe your card. At this point, you can also use an old school paper coupon with your purchase for even more savings! Cha Ching! Walmart cashiers at the register scream and run for cover when they see me in line because when you have so many coupons that they have to get manager approval since it’s over $50 off the bottom line, but I refuse to give corporate America one penny more than I have to.

Rule #2 is to always make a shopping list before you go to the store and stick to it.  Sometimes I’ll see something that’s on sale and am tempted to try it but unless I have a coupon to minimize the damage if I end up hating the product then I usually pass on it. 

I’ve noticed that a lot of stores are actually charging more for their generic store brand items than well known brand name products, particularly food.  However, non-food items, such as allergy medication or topical antibiotic ointment, are every bit as good as brand name equivalents and are much cheaper.  And I think everyone has become habituated to the larger or family sized items being cheaper.  Not so anymore.  I’ve noticed that when I compare prices, ounce for ounce, the larger sizes are nearly always more expensive than the smaller sizes, sometimes a lot more!  Membership warehouses like Costco or Sam’s Club, are great places to buy bulk items for your family, such as laundry detergent, household cleaners, paper products and bulk meat (if you have the freezer space).  We save a lot of money by purchasing ground beef, whole tenderloin, chicken, fish, pork chops, etc. in bulk then dividing it all into single meal servings and freezing.  If you sign up for the executive or advantage plus membership, you receive 2% cash back on your purchases annually, which covers most, if not all, of the membership fee by the end of a year when renewal time comes back around. 

Vocalpoint is also a site worth signing up with.  They have lots of great tips and send you free samples and coupons.  Ebates is another great site to join.  They have partnered up with thousands of the most popular companies, such as Amazon, Lands’ End, Zappos, Victoria’s Secret, Expedia, Boden, WalMart, Home Depot, 1-800-Petmeds, and even your Ebay purchases!  Whatever you spend at those sites, you get a certain percentage (each business is different) of cash back on your purchase and then you get a Big Fat Check in the mail!  To date I’ve gotten back nearly $100 for items that I was going to purchase anyway.  

And on top of my coupons and other savings, we have a credit card that offers reward points for each dollar we charge on it.  We charge all our monthly expenses on it, such as groceries, gas, car repairs, phone bill, Direct TV, cell phone, (anything that can be set up for automatic credit card payment), travel expenses and whatever else comes up, and then I pay the entire amount at the end of the month.  We always make sure that whatever we buy we have enough cash in the bank to cover all charges to the card.  If we don’t have the money then we forego the purchase until we’ve saved enough for it.  That way we don’t incur any interest or finance charges.  When we’ve accumulated enough points to get something worthwhile, we cash them in. There’s an art to being able to pinch a penny till it screams.  The trick is to combine multiple programs and offers together.  Here is a great example; sign up for Best Buy Rewards and wait till they send your special sale coupons of 10-12% off.  Combine that with the free online shipping offer and use your credit card for points too.  If you can squeeze it all thru ebates or a similar program the sale item that started off at $50 after all the points, rebates, rewards and anything else you can weasel with it, ends up costing as little as half or less.  Sometimes I get lucky and actually get paid to use stuff.  Don’t forget with companies hurting for business now while their first desire is to get you into the store they also need to reduce inventories.  Therefore online sales with free shipping sometimes become a better deal if you can wait because you save your gas and time as well as less temptations for things you don’t need that just scream at you to buy them when you’re in the store.  The program that we have allows us to choose from store or restaurant cards, travel vouchers, cash back or even payment towards our credit card.  So at the end of the day our credit card is actually paying us to use it!  Of course if every card holder followed this plan all the credit card companies would be bankrupt before you could say “Charge!”.

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11 Responses to “How to Pinch a Penny Till it Screams”

  1. Swanay says:

    July 26th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    With all good wishes for a brilliant and happy Christmas season. Hope things are going all right with you. Okay, now I know where the saying Christmas in July comes from???

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