Using Coupons and Calendars for Big Savings

by Lee Distad

Years ago, a friend far more driven by money than I am shared with me this saying: “Pennies become nickels, and dimes become dollars.”

His point, of course, is that putting together a lot of small savings or a lot of small profits adds up to something big.

In order to cultivate a frugal mindset, you need to approach your everyday activities with the mindset of a professional efficiency expert. Ask yourself: “Is there a way that I can do this better, and cheaper?”

The answer is almost always, “Yes!”

The habits you need to be frugal are no-brainers, and writing about them feels like Pointing Out The Obvious. But it’s important to remember that even simple ideas are a lot like baking bread: if you don’t know how, you just don’t know.

If you do know, it’s so obvious that you can’t imagine anyone not knowing it. So with that in mind, let’s look at a money saving idea that’s so obvious that it’s easy to overlook: coupons.

Coupons + Sales Calendar = Frugal Success

One frugality habit that came to me later in life is clipping grocery coupons. When I was young and single, I went to the store and bought what I wanted to eat without really thinking about an overall budget or what things cost.

Today, with a family, things are different, and so is my attitude towards household expenses. Raising a family isn’t cheap, but by adopting habits that take advantage of grocery stores’ coupon offers, you can cut your household’s expenses, saving money for other pursuits.

My family primarily patronizes a single grocery store, and in addition to accumulating their reward points, we know that they run a predictable calendar of sale offerings from week to week. One week may be Buy-One-Get-One, another may be a bonus points event, and another may be the Case Lot Sale.

Stocking Up on Sale Items

If your family is anything like mine, you consume the same staple items week in and week out. You also know what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry, and know when you’re getting low on something.

With that knowledge, and knowing your local grocery store’s promotional calendar, it makes sense to stock up on what you routinely use when it’s one sale.

Need bread? Buy it when it’s on promotion, and keep it in the freezer. Canned goods? Wait for a case lot sale. Chicken? Get it on BOGO. Know that you’re running low on laundry detergent? Look for a coupon.

You get the idea.

Not that you also can’t have a little spontaneity, like deciding to pick something up on the way home, but if you routinely bargain hunt for the regular staples, little indulgences aren’t quite so guilty.

I’ve also found that by registering with household goods vendors, we routinely get coupons mailed to us every month. Getting money off things you were going to buy anyway is hard to refuse. It’s especially handy if you have small kids: diaper makers are only too happy to mail you coupons to get you to buy their wares.

Collecting and using coupons isn’t the most exciting money-saving strategy, but don’t discount (sorry!) the benefit that saving pennies, nickels and dimes on your grocery bill will have on your bottom line.

About the author: Lee Distad consults with CE integration firms on design, installation and project management processes and Best Practices, and offers provides professional copy writing services for websites, brochures, and marketing initiatives. Visit him at

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