Important Changes to Walmart Price Matching Policy

If you price match at Walmart to save on your groceries, you might be in for a shock when you check out this week.  Walmart has now altered their price matching policy to eliminate matching of store brand products.  According to the revised price matching policy, you can still match produce and meats, along with name brand items, but no store brand or private labels will be matched.  I know this won’t affect as many of you since you’ve been taking advantage of our Amazon household deals group!

If you’d like to read the full policy, click here:  Walmart Price Matching Policy.  We scan the policies regularly and post updates on our Facebook page, make sure to like us so you don’t miss an important change!

If you’re looking for a way to save on your household items without couponing, check out our Subscribe & Save group. We find the hottest Amazon deals (coupons, too!) and you can have your items shipped to your door at no charge.. for CHEAPER than couponing!!!  Save time AND money!

If you’re gearing up to save money on your holiday shopping, check out our HUGELY POPULAR site Extreme Christmas Savings and its Facebook group.  The Facebook group is already kicking off with fantastic deals for its TENTH holiday season!

Why Price Matching May be Ruining Your Grocery Budget

Price Matching

What?!?!  GASP!?!?  Yes, I’m going there.  I know, you thought you found the perfect alternative to couponing.  You’re saving hundreds of dollars… or are you? {Please note, the following post is based around more than a decade’s worth of pricing analysis and experience in the Southwest Missouri region.}

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while now.  If you’ve taken a class, you’ve heard my spiel on why price matching isn’t always the best solution.  If not, pay attention! 

Before I shatter your world… or you just pretend that I’m wrong without doing any further research on the topic, I want you to imagine this:

You own a small business.  You work extremely hard to provide great customer service and competitive pricing.  You put out weekly sales and advertise them to the entire community.  You may even take a loss on some sale items, but you want customers in your door so that you can prove your worth.  You buy excess inventory so that everyone is able to take advantage.  Then no one shows up.  You’re stuck with the inventory, you wasted your money advertising,  and your books took a huge hit.  Your next sale won’t be as good, because you’ve got to offset the losses.

Now, let’s imagine you own a large business.  Instead of spending your money advertising to provide discounts to all of your customers, you only offer them to a select few who take the time to ask for them. {That’s called Price Matching}

To offset the difference, your prices on unadvertised items raise.  The prices are less than competitive, but no one realizes it.  Why?  Because they’ve got the price matching bug.  They think they are saving a fortune!  It’s definitely marketing at it’s finest.  The little guy is running your ads and sales, and you only have to give them to the customers that request it.

Here’s the truth:

1.  You aren’t in on any top secret deals… you’re getting the exact same deals you would if you shopped elsewhere, but you’re missing out on some very important discounts, such as manager’s specials, markdowns, and grocer pricing.

2.  You may even think you’ve found a solution that allows you to skip looking at the ads.  Woohoo- you’ve saved yourself three minutes and cost yourself a fortune.  I’ve been monitoring a couple of price matching websites that focus on local stores.  They are leaving out some of the best deals and posting some of the worst.  Over the past few weeks, there have been dozens of items that were priced well BELOW my stock-up prices that didn’t make the list.  And there were others that were actually priced much higher that did.

3.  You sure showed them… you saved on your cereal, but your milk cost $2 more.  Several local grocers offer regular prices that are MUCH less than the big box store that price matches.  You can’t take advantage of those prices because a.) you have  no clue they exist because you won’t go elsewhere; and b.)  they aren’t advertised.

You’re probably paying $1 more for your bread, $1.50 more for sugar, $1 more for flour, $1 per bag of chips, $3 per container of cottage cheese, $1.50 more per dozen eggs, and your produce is more than doubled.  Don’t forget about things such as pet food, cleaners, paper goods, and even wine!  They are all usually cheaper at a grocer… except Price Cutter, very few things are cheaper there and the quality is a whole ‘nother story.

4.  There’s a possibility that you’re making prices raise for your next shopping trip.  Prices are always rising and there are so many excuses, reasons as to why that’s happening.  From a business owner’s standpoint, I tend to believe that price matching  may have something to do with it. 

We have a lot of small, locally owned stores.  If they are stuck with a ton of inventory from a sale, they’ve got to offset that loss somewhere.  The sale might not be as good the next time around.  Some stores have even went as far as changing the unit of measurement so that the items aren’t price matchable.  In order to price match, an item must be sold in the same manner.  You may have noticed that some stores are now pricing produce by item instead of weight.  Some are bundling them in odd package sizes, such as 4 packs or 20 ounce packages.  This may be an effort to combat price matching.

5.  But you’re saving soooo much time, right?  Wrong.  I can drive to Springfield, do my shopping at a grocery store, and be home before I’d ever even find a parking space at my local big box store- much less the amount of time you wait in line!

6.  Your health may depend on it.  Did I really just say that?  That’s so dumb… but I’m right.  I’m going to just touch a bit on this, as it’s the subject of an upcoming post.  The layout of a store has a very strong influence on your purchases.  Many grocers are laid out so that you spend a larger portion of your budget on fresh meat and produce.  Many big box stores are set up so you spend your budget on prepackaged and processed foods.  It’s all in the layout of the store.  Start pay attention to the items you buy at different stores and how the layout affects your purchases.

7.  Impulse, impulse, impulse.  Sure, you went shopping for groceries.  You came home with groceries, and flip flops, a toy, a few art supplies, a new outfit, a futon, three novels, a video game, a lava lamp, a pillow, two candles, and a bicycle.  Okay- that may be a slight exaggeration, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you don’t see it, you don’t buy it.  If you don’t buy it, you’ve still got your money.

So, Alicia, now that you’ve finished your rant, do you mind telling me if there are any good things about price matching?

As with anything, moderation is key.  You have to value your time over money.  If it’s worth spending more to avoid driving 5 miles out of your way, go for it.

There are a few circumstances when I feel it’s okay to price match.  Remember, this is just me, and I see all of this from a completely different perspective than the average consumer.

1.  If it’s a store that you have absolutely no intention of visiting.  These stores run sales to get you in the door so that you become a regular customer.  There are so many mom and pop retailers here that aren’t within a reasonable drive (30+ miles).  If it’s not feasible to do your business there, it doesn’t hurt as badly to ‘stick it to the big guy’.

2.  If you want to buy a large quantity of an item.  Remember, a lot of the ridiculously low prices are actually costing the store money.  They can’t afford for you to buy dozens of an item.

3.  If the quality is subpar.  One of the finest examples of this is Aldi avocadoes.  They often run them for 29¢, but they are the size of golf balls.  The big box stores will match and have much larger, fresher ones.

4.  If club points are required for purchase.  Often times, you may not have enough points accumulated to take advantage of a special deal.  Big box stores will match the price without requiring points.

5. If the advertising store is known for not carrying a sufficient quantity of the advertised items.  There is a local chain that has locations that don’t even stock many of the items in their ad or provide them in extremely limited quantities.  If that’s the case, it’s quite reasonable to match their prices elsewhere.


 

To sum everything up, there are some instances where price matching can save you money… but it’s no special, top secret technique.   You’re simply purchasing items at sale prices.  This method has been around for decades. 

Remember, I’ve been doing this a very long time.  I am fortunate enough to see the benefits and repercussions from several sides.  The bottom line is that it’s your job to do what you think is best for your family- but it’s my job to provide you with the information to make the best possible decision.

As with any method of saving, you’ve really got to pay attention to make sure you’re really saving  money.  The best way to do this is to price the items you typically buy at several stores to see who routinely offers the best prices.  You might be surprised! 

Dillons to Cease Doubling Coupons Effective August 21st

All good things must come to an end…  It was announced yesterday that Dillons will no longer be doubling coupons in the SWMO area.  I’ve been in contact with the media relations manager over the past couple of days to get all of the details for you.

Dillons stores have decided to roll out the New Lower Prices campaign that has already been adopted by Kroger stores in several regions.  This program is an attempt to offer all customers additional savings instead of just the 15% who use coupons. 

You will notice that prices on thousands of items will decrease across the board.  The prices of everyday items will be comparable, if not less than, to discount store prices.

The following is the updated policy:

Dillons Coupon Policy Effective August 21, 2013

This document is subject to change and revisions, as needed

Store Management has the right to accept, decline, or limit the use of ANY coupon(s).

Store Management has the right to limit the quantity of coupons and /or items purchased in a single transaction, by a single Customer, or in a single day.

Coupons will be limited to no more than five (5) paper manufacturer coupons for the like products, each coupon value considered (1) coupon in the same transaction.

Coupons will be limited to redemption from products currently on-hand at the store location.

Limit one manufacturer coupon (paper or digital) per item purchased

All coupons will be accepted at face value

It is our practice to discourage the use of expired coupons

Only Pharmacy competitor coupons will be accepted

Couponed items will not be sold to vendors

Internet Coupon Restrictions/PAH Coupons:

  • “Free item” Internet coupons can be accepted if all purchase criteria is met?
  • Only one Internet coupon per item will be accepted
  • In some instances, Internet coupons may be limited to two (2) coupons per customer in a single day.?

Internet coupons that display characteristics below will not be accepted:

  • Blurry
  • Out of proportion
  • Do not scan properly
  • Appear to be altered in any way

My take:

I’ve said for quite some time that those who abuse the system will end it all for everyone.  Too many were using coupons to fund their stores and garage sales.  To those of you:  I hope the long term results were worth it.

I have heard from several who live in the areas that have previously implemented this program and they are happy with the changes.  After looking at this week’s ad, I can see why.  There are some great prices on fresh and necessity items that typically don’t offer coupons.

What do you think of the changes? 

Zaycon Foods is now taking orders for nationwide chicken delivery!

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Zaycon Foods is now taking orders for chicken nationwide!  This is the ONLY way we’ll buy chicken, we grow the rest of it.  It’s also the most competitive pricing you’ll find.

The concept is really neat, too!  You just pre-order your chicken by the case.  When you order, you can select a location for pickup.  Be at the location on the date/time specified and you’ll be able to ‘drive through’ the line and pick up your purchases.

For more detailed information, read through this post I’ve written:   Amazing Chicken Sale and Giveaway from Zaycon Foods!

They are also holding a sausage and ham event now- the sausage was voted #1 by Cooks Illustrated!

You’ll have to register with Zaycon Foods to see all locations, prices, and pickup dates.

This sold out in just a few days the last time it was available in SWMO.  Get your orders in quickly so you don’t miss out.

Alicia’s Quick Shopping Trip: MASSIVE Savings with 2 Coupons!

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I’m horrible about taking pictures of my trips, but I actually got it done this afternoon!  I had to go to Springfield for a dentist appointment this morning, so a quick trip by a couple of my favorite stores was in order.

Yes, this is all processed food.  Brad has been taking bologna sandwiches for lunch and we’ve been doing a lot of cookouts, hence the hot dogs.  I kicked off the Dillons trip with a $10 catalina from a previous trip.

Dillons:

  • 30 packages of pasta
  • 10 Oscar Mayer Bologna
  • 10 Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs
  • 2 Jelly Belly Snow Cone Syrups
  • 4 Large Bubbles
  • Total:  $18.xx

K-Mart

I hit a great clearance sale here- they hadn’t even changed the prices in the computer yet!

  • 3 Hellman’s May0: $1.44 each
  • 2 Pace Picante Sauce: 75¢ each
  • 3 large Bags of Kit Kats (which melted on the way home): 95¢ each
  • 3 Carrot Cake Mixes: 85¢ each
  • 2 Mott’s Applesauce to Go: 85¢ each (wish I’d have taken the $1/1 coupons!)
  • Total: $13

Discount Grocery Store:

  • 20 HASS Avocados: $2.63 (total)

Toys R’ Us

  • 3 Boxes of Dry Erase Crayons: $4.23

Total Spent: $38

Total Saved: A BUNCH (I’ve not got my receipts with me)

Dollar Tree Set to Accept Coupons Beginning August 26th

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This one’s been in the works for quite some time, and now we finally have a date!  Starting August 26th, most Dollar Tree stores will begin accepting coupons.  There’s not yet a public policy, but I can tell you that coupons will be accepted at face value and they are accepting printables.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information.  We published this story there yesterday afternoon!

My Shopping Trip: Beautiful Flowers and Empty Wallets

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After hearing how gorgeous the hanging baskets were at the Strafford greenhouse, mom and I decided to make a trip.  They were absolutely gorgeous- and just $20!

Because we were in the area, we swung by Harter House to get groceries.  They have such great prices, and this week is 29¢ Mars candy bars.  With boys that will only eat Three Musketeers and Snickers, this is a great sale.

We’ve been trying to eat solely out of the stockpile, and quite honestly, I’m getting burnt out.  Do you ever get ‘chef’s block’?  That’s where the only things I can think of to fix are tacos and pasta.  Needless to say, everyone’s getting a little tired of it.

I don’t like to spend money on groceries at all, and over the course of four stops today, I spent $90.  That will feed us for a month, but it seems like a lot of money for just one trip.  I guess I’m a little cheap, because when asking around I noticed that a lot of my friends would be thrilled with $90 a week, much less a $90 month. 

How do I do it?  As we discuss in my Ultimate Couponing workshops, I buy ahead.    Instead of buying one of everything, regardless of price, I pick up several of an item that is at a rock bottom price. I count each week’s expenses as my grocery budget, it’s just allocated differently by meal.

What did I buy today?

Harter House

  • 20 Candy Bars
  • Crisco Oil
  • 1 lb Zucchini
  • 1 lb Fresh Green Beans
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • 8 Boxes of Cereal
  • 1 lb. Genoa Salami
  • 1 lb. Pepperoni
  • 9 lbs. Boston Burger
  • 2 cartons (16 ounce) Sour Cream
  • 1 carton (16 ounce) French Onion Dip
  • 8 Handi Snacks (4-pack)
  • Pita Bread

Penny Pinchers

  • 4 lbs French Fries
  • 2 lbs Potato Wedges
  • 5 lbs Biscuit Mix (like Hardees, not Bisquik)
  • 2 packages of Honey Buns
  • 48 Yoplait Yogurt
  • 1 Loaf Sara Lee Bread
  • 1 Package Sourdough Buns

Walmart

This is because they are the ONLY store in the area that carries frozen, chopped spinach in a bag and Sargento cheese.

  • 3 packages of spinach
  • 3 boxes of elbow noodles
  • 1 box Shell pasta
  • 20 candy bars (because Harter House had a limit of 20)
  • Sargento Cheese
  • 2 Kings’ Hawaiian Rolls

I’m sure there were other items that I’m forgetting to list.  These items are almost all that we’ll need to get through the month.  I do need to stop by our local store for deli meat, milk, and produce throughout the next couple of weeks.

What do you think?  What’s your weekly grocery budget?  Do you shop per meal or in ‘chunks’ like I do?

Dillons Deals | Week of 7/6/11

Dillons

This week’s matchups are courtesy of Frugal Fritzie. She covers Dillons over at her blog and has graciously agreed to allow me to post her matchups. Some things to remember about shopping at Dillons (individual stores may vary, always check with your store for their exact policies):

Things to know about shopping at Dillons:

  • Store ads run from Wednesday through Tuesday
  • Doubles coupons up to 50¢ and any coupon with a face value of 51¢-99¢ is raised to $1
  • Each store reserves the right to limit the number of like coupons that can be redeemed (the Springfield stores like to stick with 8)
  • Most sale prices require a free shopper’s card. You can pick one up at any register.


Don’t forget to:


Buying more now will save you later! Order more coupons from Coupons by Dede.

MEAT/POULTRY/SEAFOOD

Nathan’s Beef Franks (16 oz.) – $3.00
Use $1.00/1 coupon HERE
Final Cost $2.00 (Great price for these premium franks!)

Hillshire Farm Deli Select Lunchmeat (8-9 oz.) – $3.33
Use $1.00/1 Hillshire Farm Deli Select Lunchmeat Reduced Sodium HERE
Final Cost $2.33

Tennessee Pride Sausage Roll (16 oz.) – $2.99
Use $0.75/1 Tennessee Pride Sausage Product coupon from the 6/19 RP insert (doubles to $1.00, some ares got $1.00/2 coupon)
Or Use $1.00/2 coupon HERE
Final Cost $1.99-$2.49 ea.

Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs (16 oz.) – $1.49*Wyb 10 participating items $1.79-$0.30
Use $1.00/2 Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs coupon from the 5/15 or 6/19 SS insert
Final Cost $0.99

Oscar Mayer 1 Pound Lunchmeats (16 oz.) – $2.69*Wyb 10 participating items $2.99-$0.30
Use $1.00/2 Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh or One Pound Shaved Lunchmeats coupon from the 5/15 SS insert
Final Cost $2.19 ea.
Catalina Alert! (Ends 7/9)
Buy five or more OSCAR MAYER Lunchmeats=$4.00 Catalina oyno (off your next order)
Buy 4=$3.00 oyno

PRODUCE

Driscoll’s Strawberries (16 oz.) – $1.99
Use $0.50/1 coupon HERE

DAIRY/REFRIGERATED PRODUCTS

Sargento or Kraft Cheese (5-8 oz.) – $1.99
Use $0.55/1 Sargento Natural Shredded Cheese, any 5-8 oz coupon from All You Magazine, May issue (doubles to $1.00)
Final Cost $0.99

Dillons Large Eggs, Grade AA (dozen) – $0.99

Welch’s Refrigerated Juice Cocktail (64 oz.) – $2.29
Use $0.75/1 Welch’s Refrigerated Juice Cocktail, 64 oz coupon from the 4/17 SS insert (doubles to $1.00)
Final Cost $1.29

Dannon Yogurt (4-6 ct.) – $1.88
Use $0.40/1 Dannon Light & Fit yogurt coupon from the 5/15 SS insert (doubles)
Or Use $1.00/2 Dannon Activia coupon from the 6/5 RP insert
Final Cost $1.08-$1.38 ea.

Pillsbury Grands (8 ct.) – $0.99*Wyb 10 participating items $1.29-$0.30
Use $0.30/2 Pillsbury Grands Refrigerated Biscuits coupon from the 4/17 SS insert (doubles)
Final Cost $0.69 ea.

BEVERAGE

Gatorade or G2 (32 oz.) – $0.69*Wyb10 participating items $0.99-$0.30

Coca-Cola products (2 liter bottle) – $0.89*Wyb10 participating items $1.19-$0.30

FROZEN FOODS

Minute Maid Frozen Novelties – $1.00 (possibly regional sale?)
Use $0.50/1 Minute Maid Frozen Novelty Product, any coupon from the 6/26 RP insert (doubles)
Final Cost FREE (Thanks Shannon!)

Banquet Frozen Entree (5-11 oz.) – $0.69*Wyb 10 participating items $0.99-$0.30
Use $0.50/2 coupon from HERE, enter code 63829897 (doubles)
Final Cost $0.19

Banquet Brown N Serve Sausage (6.4-7 oz.) – $0.69*Wyb 10 participating items $0.99-$0.30

Totino’s Party Pizza (9.8-10.9 oz.) or Pizza Rolls (15 ct.) – $0.89*Wyb 10 participating items $1.19-$0.30
Use $0.35/1 Totino’s Rolls Snacks coupon from the 4/17 SS insert (expires 7/9) (some areas got $1.00/3 coupon)
Or Use $1.00/3 Totino’s Products, any coupon from the 5/22 SS insert (some areas got $0.50/4 coupon)
Or Use $1.00/5 Totino’s Crisp Crust Party Pizza Products coupon from the 4/17 SS insert (expires 7/9)
Final Cost $0.19-$0.69

SNACK/BAKING/SEASONING

Stacy’s Pita Chips (8 oz.) – $2.00
Use $0.55/1 Stacy’s Pita Chips or Bagel Chips, any 7 1/3 oz or larger coupon from the 6/26 SS insert (doubles to $1.00)
Final Cost $1.00

Garden of Eatin’ Chips (16 oz.) – $3.49
Use $1.00/1 coupon HERE
Final Cost $2.49

Nabisco Ritz Crackers (7.5-16 oz.) – $2.49*Wyb 10 participating items $2.79-$0.30
Use $1.00/2 Nabisco Cookies or Crackers, any 3.7-25.2 oz coupon from the 6/19 SS insert
Final Cost $2.49 ea.

Fritos or Cheetos (7.75-10.5 oz.) – $1.69*Wyb 10 participating items $1.99-$0.30

Oreo Cookies (8.5-18 oz.) – $2.69*Wyb 10 participating items $2.99-$0.30
Use $1.00/2 Nabisco Cookies or Crackers, any 3.7-25.2 oz coupon from the 6/19 SS insert
Final Cost $2.19 ea.

Twizzlers (11-16 oz.) – $1.67
Use $0.50/1 Twizzlers Candy, any 10z or more bag coupon from the 6/26 SS insert (some areas got a $1.00/3 coupon)
Final Cost $0.67-$1.34

CANNED/CONDIMENT/PASTA

Chef Boyardee Pasta Cup (7.5 oz.) or Canned (14.5-15 oz.) – $0.69*Wyb 10 participating items $0.99-$0.30
Use $0.50/3 coupon from HERE, enter code 63829897 (doubles)
Final Cost $0.36 ea.

Kraft BBQ Sauce (18 oz.) – $0.69*Wyb 10 participating items $0.99-$0.30
Note: Watch for peelie coupons on Kraft BBQ, “$2.00 off Country Time wyb 2 Kraft BBQs”

Frank’s Hot Sauce Small Bottle $1.29
Use $0.50/1 Frank’s Redhot Sauce coupon from HERE (zipcode 55127) or HERE (doubles)
Final Cost $0.29

This post is copyrighted and is a Frugal Fritzie original. Thanks for stopping by!
BREAKFAST/CEREAL

General Mills Cereal (11.8-17.1 oz.) – $2.29*Wyb 10 participating items $2.59-$0.30
Use $0.50/1 Honey Nut Cheerios coupon HERE (doubles)
Use $0.75/1 Cookie Crisp Cereal coupon HERE(doubles to $1.00)
$0.75/1 Cocoa Puffs HERE (doubles to $1.00)
$0.75/1 Fiber One HERE (doubles to $1.00)
Use $0.50/1 General Mills Original Cheerios Cereal coupon from the 6/26 SS insert (doubles, some areas got a $1.00/2 coupon)
Final Cost $1.29

NON-FOOD

Cottonelle Bath Tissue (12 Double Rolls) – $5.99*Wyb 10 participating items $6.29-$0.30
Use $0.50/1 coupon HERE (doubles)
Final Cost $4.99

Tide In-Wash Stain Release or Pacs (18 ct. or 36 oz.) – $5.99
Use $3.00/1 Tide Powder 26-50 oz, Duo Pac 15-34 ct or Liquid Stain Release 36-68 oz coupon from the 6/5 P&G insert
Final Cost $2.99

Oral B Cross-Action Toothpaste (1 ct.) – $2.99
Use $2.00/1 coupon from the 7/3 P&G insert
Final Cost $0.99

Ball Jar products 20% Off
Ball Jars (12 ct.) – $7.77
Use $0.75/1 Ball or Kerr Jars, any case coupon from the 6/12 SS insert (doubles to $1.00)
Final Cost $6.77 (Thanks Broderick!)

If You’re Shopping at a ‘Big Box’ Store, You Might Spending a LOT More Than the Rest of Us

In the past few years, I’ve taught hundreds of workshops, all geared towards helping families become more financially stable with sensible spending techniques.  These workshops are not geared towards minimalism, but towards helping the average family spend less of their income without sacrificing a single purchase- in many instances, making more purchases while still spending substantially less than before.

One of the biggest hurdles for students to overcome is the idea that big box stores provide the highest discounts.  Many of these stores have recently admitted that they have changed their pricing models, all the while taking advantage of the customers that were lured in by their original low pricing structure.  In fact, in the Ultimate Couponing workshop, we not only go over couponing, but where to find name brand products for less than big box stores.  One of the biggest compliments we hear from workshop attendees is not the amount of money they are saving with coupons, but that they have actually regained a portion of their life that had been dedicated towards the supercenters.

What makes shoppers shop at big box stores? 

1. Convenience.  When someone tells me that shopping at a big box store is ‘convenient’, I want to scream.  How is a store filled with screaming children, high prices, a packed parking lot, bumper to bumper foot traffic, and 30 minute checkout lines convenient?  Especially when there is a Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and a couple of grocery stores on the same city block?

2.  Low Prices.  Walmart stores opened under the ‘Always Low Prices’ logo.  News flash!  Have you noticed that their logo is no longer ‘Always Low Prices’? 

To jump-start lethargic growth and counter the rise of competitors such as cheap-chic rival Target Corp., executives veered away from the winning formula of late founder Sam Walton to provide "every day low prices" to the American working class. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer by sales, instead raised prices on some items while promoting deals on others.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/22/wal-mart-grapples-worst-sales-slump/#ixzz1QozRYA9c

What does this mean?  Close your eyes and think back to the last time you walked into the store.  You’re walking along, checking items off of your list and BAM! you run into a product display (that is purposely situated to make you stop and look at it) of spaghetti sauce, priced at just $1 a jar.  While spaghetti sauce is not on your grocery list, you marvel at the price.  You think to yourself, ‘Spaghetti sounds good, this is a great price.  I’m going to grab a couple for dinner next week, even if it’s not on my list’.  After throwing delicately placing these jars in your cart, you head off in search of pasta, parmesan cheese, frozen garlic bread, and salad dressing.  You are still in shock over finding such a great price on the spaghetti sauce that you fail to notice that the price of these other items has risen.  Why did they raise?  Because the store was able to lure you in with this low price and with the new ‘basket pricing’ method, they are able to charge much more for some items, while taking a loss on just one.

Overcoming The Stigma

The problem?  Shoppers still believe they have the lowest prices.  Some of these shoppers haven’t set foot in another store in years.  Others are looking at a handful of items at a grocer and realizing that yes, some prices at the grocer are higher. 

One of the exercises in the Ultimate Couponing workshop asks shoppers to take a list of the items they buy the most and price them at a big box store, their local grocer, and a dollar store.  The best prices can be found with a combination of the grocer and dollar store.  In my area, the same package of Charmin toilet paper that is $4.99 or less, regular price, at the grocery store, runs from $14-$18 at Walmart?  Many personal care items, household items, and even pet supplies can be found for less at the grocery- and don’t forget gift bags, over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics, and greeting cards, either.  Have you ever noticed that their ads come out monthly and they NEVER put items on sale, unless another stores has done so?  Why do you think that is?  Because they don’t have to!  You’re going there anyways, there’s no need to lure you in.

Big box stores make the majority of their profits on impulse purchases.  These stores rely on flooding the shoppers brains with sensory overload.  For argument’s sake, let’s say that your list is $10 cheaper at the big box store than the grocery.  Hey, that’s $10, right?  Not so fast.. when in a big box store, do you really stop at the items that are on your list?  If you do, kudos, as you are a very disciplined shopper.  For the rest of the world (myself included), that $10 can quickly escalate to $20, $40, or even $100. 

Here’s a question for you:  If you’re out of milk, where are you going to stop at to pick up a gallon?  I’ve asked this to thousands of students, and over 90% of the time, the answer is… you guessed it, Walmart.  Did you know that their milk is 50¢-$1.00 per gallon HIGHER than any of the other stores?  EVEN the gas station!  And just how long does it take you to spend that extra buck?  About 30 minutes before it’s all said and done.  And do you just stop at the milk?  Doubt it!  Do you enjoy going there?  Probably not.

A Genuine Reader Dilemna- What about those items that are cheaper?

A former student approached me recently to tell me that she was still having problems saving money, after taking nearly the full lineup of Gateway to Saving workshops. 

She is trying to live on a tighter budget, due to the instability of her husband’s job, while working part-time.  This is an extremely responsible move, as she is socking away his income into savings and attempting to make ends meet with just hers. 

She has been very successful with her couponing, shopping the sales, stocking up on items, and spending much less than before.  Sounds great, right?  Well, she had a slight problem.  You see, there is a handful of items on her list that are cheaper at the big box store.  However, when she would make the trip after them, $10 worth of items would quickly escalate into $40.  If she were doing this just once a week, that’s $160 a month! 

“The problem is, that I buy things that I will actually use.  I can justify all of my purchases when I make them.  I’m not buying friviolous items.” she said.  “But when I get home, I realize that they weren’t an immediate need, nor a necessary item.”

What did I tell her?  That sometimes it will actually save you more to spend more.  By spending an extra $10 on those items elsewhere, she can eliminate the additional $30 she spends while saving.  Even though she has product to back up each dollar spent, her wallet is lighter, and light wallets STINK!

Are you falling into the same trap?  Here’s my solution.  When you get home from that trip, put away perishable items and leave the rest in the sack- either in your car, closet, or somewhere out of sight.  The next day, before you retrieve the bags, grab a pen and paper and try to write down everything you purchased.  If you  struggle, and you will, jump in the car and return them. 

Walmart is Set to Open Neighborhood Market Stores in Springfield

In Springfield, Walmart has recently announced that they are opening two new ‘Neighborhood Markets’.  A Neighborhood Market is Walmart’s attempt at a smaller-scale version that focuses mainly on grocery items.  Wait- wasn’t it just a few short years ago that they decided to close nearly every small store in the chain and turn them into a Supercenter?

The most serious competitor to Wal-Mart is turning out to be dollar stores. Analysts quoted in a Wall Street Journal article believe at least some of the chain’s woes can be laid at the feet of the dollar store segment. They’re like flies buzzing around the great lion: small, agile and too numerous to swat. ……

Dollar stores aren’t a new threat to Wal-Mart. They’ve been steadily building their presence for as long as Wal-Mart has been building supercenters. It’s an open secret that one of the early strategies used by dollar stores was to open right in the shadow of the looming Wal-Marts, with the goal of siphoning customers who wanted low prices but not the crowd or the hassle of navigating a huge store.

Switching away from Everyday Low Pricing, implementing the ill-conceived “Win-Place-Show” merchandising strategy, over-rationalizing SKUs in the “Project Impact” plan, and related moves over the past few years, have put a dent in the retailer’s armor.

Read more of this article here:  http://whrefresh.com/2011/02/22/wal-mart-earnings-reveal-weaknesses/

While a Neighborhood Market is designed with much less stimuli, leading to less impulse purchases, it still isn’t good for local business or consumers.  It saddens me to see that one of the locations chosen is directly across from Smillie’s, a staple in Springfield’s history. 

Not to worry, if you’re a fan of one of the big box stores, you can still save.  By knowing your prices and avoiding impulse purchases, savings can be tremendous, but for many of us, it’s difficult to change the way we process information.

Stores such as Walmart and Target offer pricematching.  This simply means that they will match any competitors advertised price.  Walmart has a much simpler pricematching policy, all you need to do is take the ads (now, their policy says they don’t even need those) from the other store through the checkout with you and you’ll receive the discounted price when you show the cashier the ad.  Target requires you to pay for all of your merchandise up front and take your receipt and ads to Guest Services to receive adjustment.  Both of these stores have exclusions, make sure to read and print their pricematching policies.  Take these with you in case any questions arise.

To save any money at all, regardless of your store of preference, you’ve got to know the prices of the items you use, both at your frequented stores and their competition.  If you’re taking a store’s word for it, you’re probably missing out on some great deals and a whole lot of extra cash!

The opinions expressed in this article are strictly my own and are only intended to provide readers my personal views, supported by published facts.  This article was not written with foul intentions, but to raise awareness on pricing structures and sensible shopping strategies.  For more information on these marketing trends, please click on the links provided throughout this article. 

I would LOVE your input on this article!  If you have any comments related to the article or any experiences you’d like to share, please use the comment form below.

Minor Changes to Dillons Coupon Policy

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Calm down, it’s nothing major!  Dillons has decided to discontinue the credit for bringing your own reusable bags.   The following letter was sent out explaining the decision:

Dear Valued Customer:

We appreciate our customers’ continued efforts to help us lessen our impact on the environment, and particularly your interest in helping us reduce the amount of plastic and paper bags used to carry groceries. Your choice of switching to reusable canvas bags and/or reusing plastic shopping bags is commendable, as we work together to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our landfills.

In the past, we have offered an incentive of 5-cents per bag for each plastic, paper or canvas bag you have returned to reuse in our stores. This program started in the 1980’s as our initial efforts began to reduce the number of paper bags used, and therefore lessen the impact to trees being harvested from our forests. Today our closed loop recycling program saves 22 million pounds of plastic from entering landfills each year.

Together, the great success of our plastic bag recycling efforts has made our 5-cent bag refund program a relatively ineffective way for us to positively impact the environment. We are writing to make you aware of an important change to this program.

Effective January 1st, we will no longer offer this incentive. Instead, the money that has been used to fund the program will be redirected into other recycling, energy conservation, and composting efforts that will serve a more positive benefit to our environment, our customers and to the communities we serve.

Sincerely,

Joe Grieshaber

President, Dillon Stores

Electronic Coupons

I’d also like to use this post to remind everyone of the issues with stacking manufacturer and electronic coupons.  While a few e-coupons will still allow you to stack it with a manufacturer coupon, I have absolutely no way of telling until I use them- which isn’t very often! 

Some electronic coupons are manufacturer coupons while others are store coupons.  I’ve noticed less issues with stacking when using the coupons loaded directly from the Dillons (or Kroger) sites. 

If you’d like, I can keep a spot open on the site where you can submit which coupons did or did not work for you- might save everyone some confusion in the long run. 

Deciphering the Deals | The Difference Between a Store Coupon and a Manufacturers Coupon

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Please read this post and take notes, memorize it, tattoo it on your arm, whatever you have to do to understand and remember it.

One of the most important things to know when couponing is how to tell the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon.  In my workshops, I stress this over and over again, but I can still tell that many shrug it off as useless information. 

Why is it so important to tell the difference?  At almost every store (excluding K-Mart), you can ‘stack’ a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon on one individual item.  You may NOT use two store coupons on one item or two manufacturer coupons on one item.

When you redeem a coupon, the retailer must submit it to a ‘coupon clearinghouse’.  This clearinghouse sorts the coupons, scans them, tracks the value, and requests payment from the actual manufacturer.  Once the payment is received, the clearinghouse disperses the payments to retailers.  If a coupon is fraudulent or if the total number of coupons redeemed exceeds the products sold, the manufacturer will not reimburse the store (if a store sold 20 packages of Kraft cheese but sent in 30 coupons).  When you break it down, it is the same as stealing.  You’ve went into a store and knowingly paid with an invalid form of payment.  It’s the same to the store as paying with counterfeit money.. They will take the same loss as if you had stuck that item in your purse and walked out the door.  Not many of you would do that, but I’ve heard from several that assume it’s okay as long as you used the coupon.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE

  • It’s super easy to tell the difference, don’t worry!  If a coupon has an address for the store to submit the coupon to for reimbursement, it’s a manufacturers coupon.  That address is where the coupons will be tracked for payment.

  • A store coupon is treated like a discount from the store.  Because there is no reimbursement for the value, the store does not submit the coupon for payment.

  • Many coupons will make it even easier for you and plainly state ‘MANUFACTURER COUPON’, ‘MANU COUPON’, or ‘STORE COUPON’ at the top.  Pretty simple, huh? 

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

  • Just because a coupon is found in the store ad or on store shelves DOES NOT mean that it’s a store coupon.  The coupon pictured above can be found in one of my local ads this week.  It plainly says IN-AD coupon, not in-store coupon.  It has a remit to address that requires the retailer to submit the coupon to Kraft foods for reimbursement.  Kraft foods paid to have the coupons placed in the store’s ad. 

  • Don’t be confused by the ‘Redeemable at Price Cutter, Ramey, or Smitty’s’ wording.  The remit to address trumps any questionable wording.  They are just saying that this coupon needs to be redeemed at one of these stores.

  • On the flip side, just because a coupon is found in the inserts or on a printable coupon site does not mean it’s a manufacturer’s coupon.  There are often Target coupons in the weekly inserts or magazines, and there are even some store coupons on coupons.com right now. 

The current $5/5 Kraft products coupon CANNOT be combined with any other manufacturer coupon. 

HOW THIS AFFECTS OTHER COUPONERS

When coupons are used correctly, stores stand to make a profit off of their redemption.  If a retailer is taking a loss on coupons because of incorrect or immoral redemption, they may change their coupon policy and their attitude towards couponers.  I’ve been in stores that treat couponers like dirt because they believe that they are stealing from them.  Did you ever stop to wonder why this happens?  It’s because of people that constantly abuse the system.

A few months from now, when your store is no longer accepting multiple coupons, printables, or possibly no coupons at all, it’s not just going to hurt legitimate couponers, but you may regret not paying that extra $1 for your shredded cheese when you are no longer saving on your grocery bill. 

I’m (not so) Patiently Waiting…

First thing’s first:  Kudos to the United States Postal Service.  You have successfully caused me more anxiety issues today than I’ve had in the past year.  I understand that the time of mail delivery may vary due to conditions that are out of your control, but this is a LITTLE extreme.

If you ‘like’ (I still really despise that term) Gateway to Saving on Facebook, you’ve been given a heads up that there is a HUGE Mega Sale at Dillons, Gerbes, and Kroger (yes, and all other affiliates) this week.  If you don’t ‘like’ us on Facebook and missed this early notification, you ought to get ‘yer rump on over there and ‘like’ us.  There is going to be a LOT of free and cheap stuff with this sale.  I mean a LOT.  Definite stock up time.

While I’ve had a full listing of the items featured in this week’s sale for nearly 2 weeks now, I’ve been waiting for my ad to get here to confirm the prices of these items.  In Southwest Missouri, we really don’t fall into any of the other ‘ad regions’ and seem to have higher prices than other areas.  Sometimes these prices are nearly triple, so I want to be careful of what deals I post and what coupons I order.

I get the ads mailed to me, and usually receive them on Mondays- around 10:30 a.m.  There was some severe flooding around here last night, so I sat on pins and needles while I waited for my mailman to arrive.  The kids were getting really tired from hopping up every 10 minutes to check the mail.  When he finally got here around 1:30, I threw everything else down (including my Kraft cheese coupons and my free Soap Opera Digest- and I am dying  to know what’s going on with Sami and Rafe) and ripped the Dillon’s ad out.  I ran to my office and turned the computer on while scrambling to get the ad open.  Wait- Kraft Singles are $1.79?  I thought they were part of the mega sale.  As I looked further down the ad, this is what I found:

CIMG0058 Notice the dates?  (and my freshly painted toenail?)  Yup- it’s LAST week’s ad.  Talk about an immense letdown!

So, since I don’t have an ad, I am going to give you a small listing of the Mega Sale items.  Order coupons at your own risk.  Some of this stuff is free in other locations, but it might still be pretty high here.  I’m only listing items that I’m purchasing coupons for myself.

  • Kraft Shredded Cheese
  • Sargentos Cheese
  • Kraft Singles
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • Amp Energy Drinks
  • Nilla Wafers
  • Keebler Cookies
  • Keebler Crackers
  • Nabisco Crackers
  • Pepsi
  • Spaghettios
  • Scotch Brite Sponges

I’m holding off on posting prices and ordering other coupons UNTIL I get confirmation of the ad! 

Buying more now will save you later!  Order more coupons from Coupons by Dede or The Coupon Clippers.

Deal$ Dollar Stores to Accept Coupons

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Are you ready for another big surprise?  As of yesterday, Deal$ started accepting coupons.  There is NO limit to the amount of coupons you may redeem.  A manager’s approval will be required for all coupons over $2.  This could be the start of great things, as Deal$ is owned by the Dollar Tree Corporation. 

This will be harder to keep a continuous matchup, as product varies greatly by store and from week to week.  I will try to swing by there the next time I’m in Springfield to get an idea of some prices.  There should be a lot of name  brand products filter through there.

Don’t forget- Family Dollar and Dollar General already accept coupons!

Click here to find a location near you.

AHHHH!!!!! WAHOO!!!!!! Can you tell I’m excited?!?!?

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BREAKING NEWS!!!!  Hy-Vee is on it’s way to Springfield, MO as a part of the new Community Improvement District at Kansas and Battlefield. 

You have no clue how excited I am about this!  Hy-Vee does not double coupons, but runs enough in-store promotions to offset it.   I recently STOCKED up on Kraft shredded cheese for 20¢ per package with NO coupons!  The best part?  They are not AWG supplied, as the rest of our stores are.  AWG stores all run the same sales at the same times and stock identical products.  Hy-vee brings some tasty alternatives, an impressive meat counter, a full seafood counter, several restaurants, and so much more. 

The nearest Hy-Vee is at Osage Beach and is a wonderful store.  The problem is that I spend a lot of $$ elsewhere when I make the trip up there!  It is not really much further for me, but there are so many great places along the way.  We are in Springfield so much anyways, it will become just another stop- although it is on the wrong side of town. 

The Springfield News-Leader has a small blip on it today, and there will be a feature on KSPR at 10:00 tonight.