Editor’s note: For daily tips on saving money, check out the Centsible Saver blog on newsobserver.com. Amy Dunn writes every day about coupons, saving money and frugal living. Below are recent excerpts from her blog.
Four of the last five weeks, Triangle grocery stores have enticed shoppers with the lure of Super Double coupon events, sending coupon clippers and coupon bloggers into overdrive.
Diehard couponers have been clipping, printing, sorting, organizing and shopping until they’re exhausted.
No one’s complaining, exactly. Super Double coupon events at Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods mean your $1 coupons are worth $2 and $2 coupons are worth an impressive $4, which often means coupon shoppers are paying for a cartful of groceries with coupons and a little spare change to cover the tax.
In fact, the Triangle is known across the country as somewhat of a coupon fantasy land because of generous coupon policies and promotions, thanks to fierce competition among multiple chains.
But some exhausted couponers are starting to cry uncle.
“I have to tell you that the Super Double excitement is wearing off on me,” reader Yvonne Stewart of Apex wrote in an email.
Stewart said that sometimes all the coupon work gets to be too much.
She wondered whether there were other like-minded folks out there who want to save money but with a little less paperwork involved.
“Have you ever solicited recommendations from readers about their favorite store-brand items?” she asked.
What a terrific idea.
In my pantry, you’ll find far more name brands than store brands because coupons often make name brands cheaper. However, store-branded products are definitely the way to go when:
• Life throws you a curve ball and you don’t have time to coupon.
• You’re buying products that rarely, if ever, have coupons issued on them.
• You’re suffering a serious case of coupon fatigue and need a break.
I buy the bulk of my store brands at Aldi, the German-based no-frills grocery that sells mostly store-brand products. It has become my go-to place for tomato sauce, chocolate chips, oatmeal, pure vanilla and baked potato chips, among other things. Coupons are rarely available on these products, and Aldi’s prices on them are particularly good.
I’ve also had good luck with Kroger peanut butter, Whole Foods fruit bars, Harris Teeter ice cream and Lowes Foods popcorn kernels.
I wouldn’t recommend store-brand toilet paper or sandwich bags. And I’ll do without before buying any store versions of Cool Whip.
What’s your two cents on store brands? Help out a fellow reader and bargain shopper and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite store-brand products.
Feel free to also share your list of store-brand flops. I’ll publish a list of both in a future blog post.
Come to coupon class
Registration is open for my next coupon workshop, a three-hour class on Saturday, Aug. 10.
Learn how to save 50 percent – or more – in this fun and fast-paced class. On top of that, we’ll feed you breakfast and send you home with some nice freebies.
If the Aug. 10 class doesn’t fit your schedule, I’ll be teaching my holiday-themed workshop on Saturday, Nov. 9. Registration for that class will open in late September.
I’ll be teaching both classes, covering basic and advanced savings techniques, at The News & Observer’s downtown Raleigh offices, 215 S. McDowell St.
Registration is $10 and is open to the public. After July 29, admission will be $15, if seats are still available.
Go to newsobserver.com/couponclass to sign up. If you need help with registration, please call 919-836-2890.
Serious savings on cereal
A lawsuit over the health benefits of Frosted Mini Wheats could put an extra $15 in your pocket.
A $4 million settlement with the Kellogg company was recently announced, giving consumers the right to a $5 refund per box. The maximum claim is $15.
The lawsuit alleged that Kellogg falsely advertised that Frosted Mini Wheats improved children’s attentiveness and memory, among other things. Kellogg stood by its advertising but agreed to the settlement.
The only problem? You have to remember if you purchased the Mini Wheats between Jan. 28, 2008, and Oct. 1, 2009.
You’re on your honor in making this claim. No proof is required.
For more information or to file a claim, head to cerealsettlement.com.
Eat like it’s 1978
Mimi’s Cafe will celebrate its anniversary on July 14 with a deal its customers haven’t seen in 35 years.
A special “Heritage Menu” will be offered that day featuring classic dishes at 1978 prices.
Among the offerings:
• A bowl of French onion soup for $2.25.
• Muffins for 45 cents.
• A French dip sandwich for $4.10.
• Eggs Benedict for $3.95.
There are Mimi’s at 6320 Plantation Center Drive in Raleigh and 1115 Walnut St. in Cary.