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MRS. MURFREESBORO: Degree needed to decipher deals

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I wrote last week that I enjoy reading newspapers, particularly on Sundays when I’ll hunker down on the back porch and peruse all the sale ads that accompany them (“overwhelm” them).

I noticed one local paper has a countdown until Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

I won’t be heeding that. I like bargains, but I’m not a fanatic and avoid Black Friday like the plague.

I can do without being frugal if it means fighting the crowds. Senior day at Kroger is as ambitious as I get.

On Sunday, I sit down with scissors, an index card, pen, paper and paper clips and make a list of what’s on sale where.

My friend Lucy Scribner, a former Murfreesboro resident, used to say she never had to check out the sale ads - she just asked Jeanne where to go. And lately, bargain hunting really seems like work because you practically need a master’s degree to figure out how much anything really costs.

I noticed in the Walgreen’s circular that a card is now required for sale prices. Oh, brother; yet one more plastic piece to keep up with (and, yes, I know that you can often use your phone number but it’s still a nuisance to me).

I don’t go to drug stores very often although I do check out their sale ads. My drug store of choice is CVS at the intersection of Memorial and Clark boulevards, because it has absolutely the best pharmacy department ever, and, when I’m in there picking up my prescriptions, I often use my frequent shopper card.

I understand it’s in the best interest of retailers to target buying habits of our purchases but give me a break.

In the Walgreens ad items offer bonus points.

Bonus points for what?

And then there are “Register Rewards.” When I googled Walgreens to try to figure this out I found several websites that offered explanations (none of which were simple – refer to the paragraph above about needing a master’s degree). Some websites even call their explanations “Walgreen’s 101” if that gives you an idea about how hard it is.

I mentioned this irritation to two of my sisters and it struck a chord.  Sister Randy (author of “ Life Beyond Ramen; a Cookbook for 20-somethings”) had written about it on her own cookbook blog. Sister Kelley said they had practically paid for their local Walgreen’s because of her family’s allergic predispositions and she went through the roof talking about it too.

Son-in-law Alex said the other day you’d need a whole other wallet for all the shoppers cards and I have, in fact, designated a small, thin bag for such a task. It contains a small spiral “book” with dividers (tabbed for stores) where I paper-clip weekly coupons.

On the radio recently I heard that Target “targets” what you buy and sends coupons according to your spending patterns. I didn’t realize I bought so many salads and canned beans from Krogers but such are the “personalized” coupons they send me.

Lowe’s has a card called “My Lowe’s” that keeps a history of all your purchases, for your convenience of course. While that may sound convenient it’s almost a little too “Big Brother” for me.

When trying to figure out if I have to buy 10 items to get the “10 for $10 sale price (Kroger’s website says that you don’t; it’s a way to try to get you to buy more) I came across krazycouponlady.com (a great website), who says that you DO have to buy 10 participating items to get the advertised savings for the “buy 10, get $5 off” sale. This must be done in increments of 10 (refer again to the paragraph regarding necessity of that master’s degree).

And although I am complaining I did receive a coupon for one free jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

I plan to use it before I lose it but will wait until the first Wednesday (senior discount day).

Bargain shopping is a game I used to be willing to play, but since I don’t buy as much anymore I’m not sure I want to stay in the game much longer.

That once a month senior discount day keeps looking better all the time.

‘Til next week.
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Fashion, Finance, Food, Jeanne Bragg, Mrs Murfreesboro, Shopping
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Members Opinions:
November 11, 2012 at 9:39am
Jeanne, I enjoy reading your columns and feel qualified to comment this one to the extent that it relates to grocery shopping. Since my wife is a bit snobish and refuses to shop at Krogers or Walmart or to clip coupons, saving money on groceries falls to me. (She) prefers Publix where "on sale" prices are compared the their own everyday inflated price. I prefer shopping where I can get the best price without compromising quality. I clip coupons and use Walmarts prices as a benchmark. I shop at Walmart, Kroger, Jrs. and Sams leveraging sales price plus doubling coupons as a tool for comparing a "sale or toofer" price to Walmarts everyday price. I can pretty well keep numbers in my head and doing the math is pretty simple. This week, for example, Land o Lakes butter is $2.50 at Publix and since (she) prefers that brand plus the price beats Walmart big time we will stock some extra in the freezer for holiday cooking. Ritz cracker are $2.50 at Walmart but they are on sale at Krogers and by using a $1.00 coupon they are $1.49 beating Walmart by a dollar a box.We like Egglands Best x-tra large eggs so doubling up a $.35 at Publix beats Walmart so we get the eggs there. Generally Kroger brand milk is a better buy and since it is made by the same company that makes most of the local "house brands" so that is our choice. I realize that I am rambling so I will end this with a bit of advice, on sale shopping, gleaned from an old hit song. "Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy".
November 17, 2012 at 6:29am
We shop every week at Walmart and bring the sales ads for Aldi, Kroger and Publix. Usually, we can find about 2 or 3 things a week to get Walmart to price match. For example, Aldi had Pineapples on sale for $.99. Now that is a bargain as Walmart price was $2.98. We also got them to price match orange juice and mayoannise.
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