Experts offer tips on how to stash more cash
By Sandra Fischione Donovan
Published: 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, www.pittsburghfrugalmom.com, 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, coupons.com, 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 Amazon.com, 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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Staples to shutter 225 stores as sales move online
- Municipal bonds do another about-face
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Achieving proper credit balance
- JPMorgan whistle-blower gets $64M for mortgage fraud tips
- Regular or Roth? Pick either
- Diaper makers do due diligence
- Real estate goes techno
- Lawrenceville firm Songwhale benefits from growth in e-commerce
- Gates back on top of Forbes’ billionaire rankings