| Business

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Experts offer tips on how to stash more cash

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Smart shopping

Pittsburgh Frugal Mom offers money-saving tips:

• Shop dollar stores for often-used items such as toiletries and toothbrushes. Examine toothpaste, shampoo and other goods to make sure they have not expired. Some stores accept coupons.

• Clip coupons and wait until those items go on sale at the grocery store for additional savings.

• Look for products that offer rebates and make sure to redeem the rebate cash. Some rebates offer free gifts.

• Print coupons from online coupon sites.

• Load e-coupons onto a supermarket loyalty card. The coupons do expire.

• Shop discount department stores, consignment stores and thrift stores.

• Keep out of malls, but if you can't resist, make sure to go with coupons or coupon mobile apps such as ShopKick. Head to clearance racks.

• Patronize stores with reward cards, and use them. Grocery stores offer a percentage off food or fuel bills after a certain spending level.

• Use credit cards that pay you rewards.

• If your home has room for storage, patronize stores such as Costco or Sam's Club to stock up less expensively. Each has membership fees, so decide whether the savings would outweigh the fee.

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Dana Vento comes from a family of frugal people.

Her mom would let her cut out Kroger coupons. At 90, Vento's grandmother reads grocery store flyers, matches coupons and tells her granddaughter where to find deals.

“She was talking about Dollar General before it was trendy to do so,” Vento said.

Vento carried on the tradition when she and her husband started a family. She no longer worked full time, so with her knowledge of how to save money, she decided to share it on her blog,, adopting the name as her alter ego.

She attracted about 26,000 followers, a testament to the need to economize in times of stagnant wages and unemployment.

“It becomes inexpensive to shop, but you have to know how to do this,” said the mother of three from Franklin Park.

Karen Barr, a senior instructor of business administration at Penn State Beaver, said she finds useful tips on the Frugal Mom site.

“I've done it myself,” Barr said of money-saving methods such as couponing. Now that Barr works full time, she does not have as much time to clip coupons and study advertisements.

One of Pittsburgh Frugal Mom's favorite thrifty strategies is to combine offers. If she finds store coupons in the Sunday Tribune-Review and has a manufacturer's coupon, she knows some stores allow shoppers to “stack” coupons and use both on a product.

Some store credit cards give a percentage off each purchase, so she can save more by using the credit card and stacking coupons.

Audrey Guskey, associate professor of marketing at Duquesne University, notes that after a mortgage, groceries are the largest single expense for families.

“You really need to be a smart consumer in these tough economic times,” Guskey said.

Consumers should research prices before shopping, because they might be able to buy things more cheaply at discount stores without having to clip coupons, Guskey said. She suggests consulting online sites such as Saving Star,, Smart Source and Red Plum.

To save money on clothing, Vento recommends discount stores. She made money by selling some of her children's clothing on consignment when they outgrew outfits.

“It's not only good to shop (consignment stores); it's good to sell to them,” she said, though upscale stores can be picky about the clothing they accept.

By getting to know store associates in favorite discount stores, shoppers can be tipped off to the best buys. Salespeople “have the inside scoop on deliveries and when pieces might be there,” Vento said.

Barr said online shoppers can save if they do quick searches for coupon codes before checking out.

“Over 60 percent of the time, I find a coupon code,” except when shopping, where coupon codes typically are unavailable, Barr said.

Neither Guskey nor Barr foresee retailers doing away with coupons, rebates or loyalty cards anytime soon.

“Retailers are struggling,” with competition from Wal-Mart and online retailers, Barr said. “Any additional revenue is better than zero revenue. Not only that, but once you have someone come in with a coupon, you have the potential for repeat customers.”

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.


Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Marcellus driller Vantage Energy to pay nearly $1M for Greene County well problems
  2. Stocks push to record highs, continuing rally
  3. Gasoline prices keep falling in Western Pa.
  4. 2 states, 2 different conclusions about fracking
  5. FedEx to buy product-return firm Genco in e-commerce push
  6. Energy sector adjusts to global oil plummet
  7. 8 Western Pennsylvania hospitals penalized over infections
  8. EPA says it won’t regulate coal ash as hazardous waste
  9. Drought opens Texas ranchers’ eyes to income options