Being Creative When Frugal Isn’t Easy

by Mandy on March 29, 2011

Aldi Süd, Trier
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I am a couponista. I live to clip those coupons and find the deals that match, or vice versa.  I love setting records with how much I save off the grocery bill! But what happens when the store deals are no longer available to you? What happens when the military {or life circumstances} move you hours and hours away from all the stores you have learned to love {or work}?

That was exactly what happened to us just one short year ago.  I had learned to master the Publix and Bi-Lo deals in our small little corner of North Georgia. Leaving the stores I was so used to far behind, we moved into an area in North Carolina where Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and the Commissary are our only real choices for larger chain grocery stores.  As luck would have it, the Food Lion here is one of the few in this country not yet doubling coupons, and the Harris Teeter is far overpriced, as is the Commissary.  Jumping from a $50-75 a MONTH grocery budget to at least that much PER WEEK was such a painful leap for me {and our budget}.  So what is a good and true couponista and frugal blogger to do?!

I began to seek out other grocery options.  Since coupons are far less beneficial to me in this area, I began to look into stores that did not accept coupons… such as Save A Lot and Aldi.  Learning their deal rotations and stockpiling when there are great bargains has allowed me to again “shrink” our grocery spending. But it does take work, and thought, and careful planning from week to week! Shopping stores that do not accept coupons means taking a lot of time to compare the unit price of each item on my list. Just because I can buy in bulk at these stores does not always mean they offer the best price on the item on sale. I am slightly reluctant to admit that Target and Wal-Mart have once again entered my frequent visits list, but they do accept coupons and often times offer great sale prices on items we need. Sometimes I can purchase an item for a lower rate at either Wal-Mart or Target, if it’s on sale and I have a good coupon.

Purchasing from locally supplied farmers’ markets can offer great deals as well, although again around this area it can be tricky.  Many of the “farmers’ markets” here are not locally supplied – meaning the produce for sale is shipped in here, which also means the price is raised to cover shipping costs.  It took some digging on my part to find a small local “mom and pop”-type farmers’ market that is supported by the local farmers.  Not only does this benefit me by finding a lower price on fresh produce, but it also helps the local economy as well by supporting the farmers!

So when fabulous blogs such as Southern Savers‘s post those wonderful weekly deals lists, of course, I can only scan through the stores applicable to my area, and drool slightly over the bargains not available to me and try to make the best of the stores I do have!

Another great read on this topic: Rethinking Frugal by Phoebe {Getting Freedom from Debt}

What do you do to save money on your grocery bill? Are you able to do the popular coupon deals, or do you have to get a little more creative?

 

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