Shopping for bargains

Tightwaddery Shopping

by Kelly Jo Landers


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Tightwaddery shopping is quite different than the cruise-the-mall shopping style most of you might be familiar with. I do not use shopping as entertainment on a regular basis. While I'm not adverse to the mall, I actually spend very little time there.

I do shop, though. I just have a different way of going about it. I go to the store when I am out of stock on something as you do, but I'm also shopping for bargains on the items I use on a regular basis. This means I can often go to my stock for the items I run out of.

Having a back-up supply of shampoo or dish soap that I purchase on sale, with a coupon, possibly with a rebate, costs far less than running out of an item and having to go to the store and purchase it at regular price.

I make use of my price book. This book lets me keep track of the regular and sale prices of the items I use and buy on a regular basis. The beauty of it is that my book allows me to set a "trigger price." A trigger price is the lowest price on that item that would trigger me to purchase more.

Of course, I use a bit of reason and judgment in this. I don't need twelve bottles of shampoo at one time, even if it is a deal. Two or three bottles in the house are sufficient. Any items purchased ahead represent an investment of your money. I simply don't find it necessary to have an investment in more than three bottles of shampoo at any one time.

The other wonderful parts of the price book are the ability to track the lowest regular price of an item and to track the usual sale cycle of an item. If I run out of my shampoo and I have to go purchase it at regular price, my book will let me know where to go. The sale cycle is the frequency with which the stores offer my item on sale.

Mayonnaise goes on sale about every three weeks. Often, there are coupons for mayonnaise. I also know a bottle of mayonnaise will last me at least three weeks. This means I need no more than three on hand at any one time.

Each week, I sit down and clip, sort, and file coupons. While I file I take the time to throw away any that are expired. These expired coupons I prepare for mailing to my contact at an overseas military base. (They can use coupons three month's beyond their expiration dates at the on-base stores.)

I make note of any stand-out coupons. These are the occasional coupons that are such great savings that you might want to run right out and use them. I keep these on the table as I pull out the store advertisements.

Often, the stores and manufacturers work together to feature these items as loss leaders. (Loss leaders are the items that they know they will lose money on, but that will get you in the store to spend more money on items they will make money on.) If I just run out and use the stand-out coupons I might actually spend more than if I also find the sale they correspond to.

Few people understand that most of the sales they see on items actually originate with manufacturers. If your favorite brand of butter is on sale 2 for $5 this week, it probably means that the manufacturer cut the wholesale price to retailers that particular week. These sales are planned ahead and coordinated.

It takes time to print up advertising circulars and store signage. It also takes planning to have sufficient stock on hand to supply a sale price. Coupons have to be planned way ahead in order to hit the newspapers the particular week they are needed to synchronize with a store display and sale.

Knowing all of this allows us to plan ahead for what we need. Sales are held to get you in the store. We benefit by buying items on sale rather than regular price. We also benefit by knowing when a sale is the lowest price we can pay on our cottage cheese.

This takes a little bit of preparation and work on our part before we go to the store to shop. It takes coupon clipping, it takes a price book, it takes awareness of possible rebates, and it takes review of the advertising circulars. All of this takes time, but you can consider it an investment in you and your financial situation.

And the mall will wait for the day that you've saved so much money and have so much back-up stock that you can cruise the halls guilt free. Think of it as a reward for just how smart you are!


The theme is that Tightwaddery equals Freedom and Freedom equals Joy. Presented by Kelly Jo Landers.

Take the Next Step

  • Learn how to use a price book to reduce the cost of groceries.
  • Print coupons before you head to the grocery store.

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