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Frugal Household Manager Wanted

It really irritates me to hear friends and family complain about rising prices of groceries and gas and then in the same breath say they dont have time to clip coupons and cherry pick for the best prices.

Everyone has their roles within a family. One of my roles is to be the household manager. It's my responsibility to make sure that all the food, health, beauty, pet and cleaning supplies is bought. I feel it's also my responsibility to do this as cheap as possible.

Look at it this way. If a company hired you to buy supplies for them, would you be doing your job if you bought the supplies without comparing prices and making sure you were getting the best deal for the company? That's been a part of my duties at the last 3 jobs I've had in the last 17 years. I took the concept and applied it at my home.

Here's a deal I did just last week.

This used 3 coupons. Two were clipped from Sunday newspapers. One came directly off a bottle of All detergent that I bought previously. So how much time did it take me to clip two coupons and pull one off a bottle I already had. The trip took less than 15 minutes out of my time. Here's the details:

Went to Wallys, had them price match Price Chopper's sale price on the All detergent 2.99 each. Wally's regular price has shot up to $4.97 each.

I bought three bottles: $14.97 at regular price.
After price match $8.97
Minus $4.00 in coupons...

The young woman was so excited to see the "little bottles" on sale for $2.99. She scanned my two expired $1.50 off and the one $1.00 off coupon. It didnt beep, went through without a hitch. That's because Wally usually will take an expired coupon if it's within a couple of days.

My subtotal $4.97 (the regular price of one bottle)
So it was like I bought one bottle and got two free!
Enough detergent to last my family 3 months. By then there should be another sale somewhere that I can do it again. Hopefully there will be more $1.50 off coupons as well. If not, I have several $1 off coupons tucked away.

Oh yeah, the three bottles I bought also had more hang tag coupons on them for $1 off that doesnt expire until June. So now I'm just waiting for another good sale in the next three months before I run out.

Now, what's not worth it? I dont have to worry about detergent for three months. The coupons are filed away. When I'm looking through the sale flyers for other weekly perishables that will need to be bought, I'll keep my eye out for the detergent on sale somewhere else. Usually when one store has it on sale for a loss leader, another will follow within a couple of weeks. That way it doesnt take away from my weekly budget too much at once.

So I would like to hear from all of you who doesnt think clipping coupons and cherry picking is worth while.


  1. Like you, I feel my role is to be the household manager. But unlike you, I don't use many coupons.

    Because of the way I cook and the household products I choose to use, I feel I can do as well or better by using generics and store brands, as well as shopping at freight overstock stores, Aldi and warehouse stores. And of course, taking advantage of great sale prices wherever I find them. So, I guess you could say that I do cherry pick.

    I think coupons can be great for some people and can be well worth the time invested, especially if you prefer name-brand products. But I generally don't find coupons for the things I like to use. For example, there are often coupons for cake mixes, but rarely for flour, sugar, eggs, and milk to make a cake from scratch. :(

    Either way, I think being the household manager means finding the best values for your money, by whatever means you use.

  2. I try to cherrypick and watch sales. Unfortunately, coupon clipping isn't a big thing here in The Netherlands, so saving money that way is very difficult. Every now and then the supermarket sends out a couple of coupons, but those are very rare and usually aren't for things that I use.

  3. Lisa,

    Great Post! It is refreshing to see someone who GETS IT! I am the CEO of my household, so give yourself a raise! LOL!

    As CEO it is up to me to watch all the expenses- both large and small. Once the big ones are taken care of each year(that is when I review), I concentrate on the small ones because they add up to mega bucks. Yes it is about how much you save but more importantly it is about what you don't spend and what you invest. Your investments as they build make you big bucks. DH and I didn't become financially independent early, by not paying attention. We are not of Social Security age and won't take it for a number of years yet, but we never planned on relying on that either because it can disappear in a heartbeat and may. We had a goal of retiring very early and being FI and we made it 7 years ago. We are our own bosses and can do whatever we want when we want. We have the time to research the market and make our money make more money. We are alwasy learning. Since then we have another big goal and we can see the light so we are almost there. It has been a dream almost my entire life and we will make it. So when other people whine about the costs rising and are too lazy to take the time to do something about it, just smile and know that you GET IT!

  4. Lisa, I love this post! Of course you know I agree with you. Those that don't use coupons and say that they never see them for items that they can use, aren't really looking. As you know, we constantly see coupons for staples like eggs, milk, juice, canned tomatoes, and even butter. I have a lot of friends and family members that say going to Costo or BJs is cheaper than cutting coupons and comparing circulars but I tried their way for the first 2 years of my marriage and we were totally struggling. Once I decided to give coupons a try and be serious about it, it made a world of difference. Even DH commented the other day about how he's glad I don't go to the warehouse stores anymore and how much more I get with our money just from clipping me coupons on Sundays. You can't change everyone's mind though. People are set in their ways until they have no choice but to change.

  5. annie, I dont prefer name brand products. For the last 3 years before couponing, I mainly bought Always Save or Best Choice. BUT, the coupons-doubled-on sale items-for name brands brings the price down even CHEAPER (sometimes even free) than generic. The amount of money I save using coupons is then there for the other items that rarely have coupons.

    All I can tell ya is this, before I started couponing, My $75 a week was not enough to cover food, health & beauty, cleaning supplies and pet food. I get so much pet food, health & beauty, and cleaning supplies for little or nothing, that leaves the majority of my $75 for food now. Then when there is a really good sale price on food, I am able to buy more than just a weeks worth. My stockpile is growing and I find I am stressed less knowing I have about 3 weeks worth of full menus for food. Before, I would barely have enough for one week.

  6. mubeimmik Everyone has geographical difference. It kills me when I find out about a friend who lives in southern california who has soooo many opportunities for double coupons and rock bottom prices. She literally can walk out of a store with more than what I get in a month for less than my weekly budget. We just have to learn how to work our area to the best we can.

  7. precious yes I agree, the little ones start eating you alive. I get tired of being nickled and dimes to death.

  8. amiyrah what they mean to say is: I have a lot of friends and family members that say going to Costo or BJs is easier than cutting coupons and comparing circulars.

    The .15 margarine for me is a big COST CUTTER. Of course my eggs are home grown, so they cost me the chicken feed. Milk and bread is hard for me to hound, BUT with all the dirt cheap margarine, peanut butter (free), dishwashing soap (.37 a box), canned tomatoes (large can .25) toothpaste (free), shampoo (free), bath bar soap (free).... I could go on as you know, there is money for milk and bread.

    Next week I am going to try an organic milk that I get coupons for all the time.

    When cooking with your organic milk, do you find a difference? Powdered milk has skyrocketed. I'm waiting for a sale on it. Have you ever seen one?

  9. I think this is GREAT.. I've been doing this for a few months now and have started saving quite a bit of money.. ( been using a ticker on my blog)... I use to NEVER use coupons.. but now.. I watch the sales flyers.. lay out the coupons and use strategies... I've been helping out our elderly neighbor across the street too since she's on such a fixed income.. if I get a BOGO.. I tend to give her some of the items!! i know I'm suppose to "stock" up.. but I can't help.. helping!! Ü

    I'm such a "scratch" cooker as well.. but still find great deals with coupons!!!

  10. I'm not trying to be difficult or stir things up, just voicing a different opinion.

    It's not that I never use coupons. You know I used those coupons for the free chicken nuggets just the other day. Also, I always try to use coupons on the rare occasions we go out to eat, go out for a game of bowling, etc. I used to be very into it...coupons, rebates, refunds, etc. I had box after organized box of coupons, proofs-of-purchase, etc. But too many times, I would buy things I had coupons for, absolute sure I would use them, only to find them still sitting in my cabinets months, or even years, later. It just wasn't working for me anymore.

    I have to kindly disagree with Amiyrah above about finding coupons I can use. For example, when I bought the Sunday paper you told me about earlier this year that had all the extra coupons? I think I found about $2 worth of coupons I'd actually use; barely enough to make up for the cost of the paper, that I wouldn't have bought for any reason other than the coupons.

    And please, if you ladies truly do find coupons for eggs (other than expensive Eggland's Best), real butter (not uber-expensive Land O' Lakes butter and not margarine), flour, sugar, and milk, then direct me to them, as I would definitely use those.

    I have watched you and others post your CVS deals. You are getting things for cheap or even free, and that's great, but most of those things aren't things I would use. I don't wear make-up, so I wouldn't use any of the make-up items you get. I also wouldn't use things like Dove Skin Vitalizers, Listerine Smart Rinse, even if they were free. At Shane's and vet's insistence, we only buy one brand of cat food, Nutro, and I will use coupons for it when I find one, but they are rare.

    As for warehouse shopping, I think it's all about planning and will-power. We buy their house brand of bath tissue, paper towels, laundry detergent (a bucket of powder lasts us nearly 8-10 months), dishwasher detergent (a bucket lasts us 6-8 months), ibuprofen, vitamins, olive oil and a host of other every-day needs. We don't let ourselves be tempted by things like the frozen heat-and-eat foods, the big screen TVs, the books and DVDs, etc. I'm not saying everyone is tempted by those things, but I do believe that a number of people are, then wonder why they don't save money at the warehouse club. Every year, when it's time to renew our membership, I review their pricing vs. other places and we are confident we save money by shopping there.

    My point is this. It isn't about how much money you save in coupons, but how little you spend overall. If you truly spend less using coupons, then I think that's wonderful. I just find that I spend less when I shop using the methods I listed in my first comment.

    Now I'll jump off my soapbox and hope you don't ban me from commenting here. :)

  11. As a P.S., I will readily admit that I am biased, in that I hate CVS worse than most people hate Wal-Mart. They literally left me suffering from one too many migraines because they didn't have my migraine medication in stock and I would have to wait 2-5 days for them to get it. I got so fed up with them that I just won't shop there anymore, regardless of the any sales or coupon deals they might have.

  12. Annie, Everyone has different methods of shopping. You tried the rebates and coupons and it didnt work for you as far as doing it on a regular basis all the time.

    I know you still like to hear about the really good deals using coupons and that's ok with me.

    You are always welcome here... with your opinion and ways of doing things.

  13. Lisa,

    I was just about to post on GC about my friend who never uses coupons. She gave me the "I can only afford to buy what I need that week" line. Granted, I know plenty of people who have a limited income. However, this friend will drive hundreds of miles to pay $500 or more for a bulldog to breed (hopefully). My sister tells me she can't afford to buy "expensive" shampoo like Pantene or Sunsilk....but she can fly from IN to CA twice in the past year for vacation. *sigh* They don't understand me and I don't understand them.