Newspapers may be a dying industry, but they shouldn’t be.
I used to work for a newspaper, and I am still nursing those wounds 10 years later. You work stressful deadlines that are dependent on too many outside forces cooperating with you, you get shit every day for the quality of the news that’s outside your control, and you get paid less hourly than you do selling shoes part time to keep afloat. So I have little love left for newspapers.
For many years, I did not subscribe to a newspaper. But here’s the thing, everyone should. It’s about the biggest way we have to save money around.
I know the news is online. However, we subscribe to the Star Tribune Sunday edition, (which also gets us the special thanksgiving editions and whatnots). This is where the Joel and Becky superteam works best.
I hate shopping, but I hate even more coupon clipping. It requires skills I do not have – memory, patience, organization up the wazoo. Becky hates shopping even more than I do, and though coupons are a stressful task, she does them, makes the list, and sends me out the door.
She is a whiz at clipping coupons, keeping them in a little plastic holder thing, and then remembering what she has. So she can recall that one of her 100 coupons on file works with a brand of toilet paper that is also on sale this week, so double bonus! It requires her to be aware of her manufacturer coupons, the Sunday ad, current sales, our current needs in our cupboard and fridge, and matching all of these up like a frakking chess master. The real coup is matching a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon on an item that’s also on sale. Angels actually come and sing to you when this happens.
In our 100 or so a week we spend on groceries, she usually has saved an additional 20 to 30 bucks on top of that bill through this system, for items we buy regularly anyway. This is for real food, too, 1/3 of our grocery budget goes to fresh produce.
So every week, we’ve saved more than we spend on an entire year’s worth of Sunday newspapers, simply by subscribing to the Sunday paper, which is the one with all the coupons. (You could in theory find a lot of coupons online via grocerycoupon.com, but our printer ink cartridge costs way more than a sunday paper subscription. There are also apps, but hell if I’m joining this century.)
In a perfect world, we would shop at somewhere like Costco all the time. The problem with this plan is you put 10 items in your cart and you’ve just spent 150 bucks. You also have to store said bulk items, which can quickly become a pain. So buying what we need, usually when we need it, has been working like gangbusters in the budget department. We save Costco for special trips once or twice a year to get our six month supply of allergy pills – the savings on that one item alone pays for the 50 a year they charge for membership. That and top shelf dishwasher soap packets (the only detergent that our lousy dishwasher will accept without leaving white crap all over the dishes) is all we really use Costco for.
This, along with using the online budget planner I wrote about in a guest post here, has been our secret weapon in the fight to stretch our budget through another week. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out that online budget tool, go there now and do it! It’s awesome!
I don’t know how Becky does it, but she does. And I suffer through having to go to the grocery store, often on a Sunday, to fill our cart for another week.
One last quick budget tip – remarketing. Ever since Becky started working in SEO, we’ve noticed how often we get special deals simply by not buying something. Some examples – we were spending our anniversary at a hotel with special movies we could rent. I looked at what was available, but nothing seemed worth 10 bucks. When I tried to go back to the regular channels, it offered to halve the price. We didn’t, but then the next day when we were going to actually watch a movie and it didn’t offer to cut the cost, we just kept going back and forth from the movie channel until the offer came up again. Blam – five bucks saved. This has also worked with Redbox in a slightly different way. And certain online retailers will do anything to get you to come back and buy the stuff you put in the virtual cart from extra discounts to free shipping. So before you buy, walk away. Give it a day and return (Becky says just an hour, but if you don’t need the stuff, the longer you leave it in the cart the better the deal. She got face cream up to 25 percent off by waiting for a third email to encourage the sale). If you were going to buy it anyway – nothing lost, but you do lose the chance to save some extra bucks if you don’t.
I can’t imagine retailers will keep doing this after too many people catch on to this marketing scheme and work the system in this way, but for now, take advantage of being one of the few that knows about it. If only grocery stores allowed you to fill a cart and walk away like this! 🙂