Working together to survive tough times

Working Together to Save Money

by Lisa Palmi


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For years, I traveled the road to frugal riches pretty much solo. Admittedly, I was pretty intense at times about finding deals and reducing our bills. It seemed that most of my friends just weren't interested in couponing, creating price books, etc.

All of that seems to have changed these last couple of years as the economy has pretty much tanked. People seem much more receptive to the idea of being "frugal." It's almost as if it is cool to coupon. I am noticing that loss leader items from stores are flying off the shelves often times requiring me to get rain checks if I really want the item. Even items that are not on sale but have good coupons available for them are disappearing quickly. One other thing I have noticed is that some stores are removing items from their shelves when a coupon is available for it that may make it free or almost free for the consumer. Then, as soon as the coupon has expired, these items magically seem to appear again on store shelves.

One way this new trend has changed how I shop is that I am now part of a growing group of friends that is working together to shop frugally. We call each other if we are in a store and find a great deal or when we order coupons. If we find some we know a friend would use, we order for them as well. I even have a friend who stopped by the other day with a gallon of milk from WIC that she was not going to be able to use before it expired. I call her my milk fairy now. Another friend and I who attend the same church love to talk after service about our deals for the week while our husbands grin at each other.

One of my friends will have her husband stop by on his way home from work to pick up my extra flier coupons that I won't be using. This same friend will print out rebates for me she finds online just in case I may want them. A couple months ago I went through my stockpile and realized some food would go bad before I could use it so I called a friend to see if she wanted it and she was thrilled to have it.

There is no way to really know how much money we are saving each other but that doesn't matter because we are reaping some wonderful social rewards as we are working together to survive these tough economic times. I even had a doctor friend email me to thank me for all my help and brag that for the first time since she can remember, her grocery bill was under $100 for the week. After that email, I realized a wonderful thing really was happening with us working together.


Lisa Palmi lives in Vermont with her husband and three children. She currently teaches classes on the subject of saving money on groceries.

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