Over the years I have enjoyed hearing from one of this column’s many regular readers, Oren Spiegler of Upper St. Clair, Pa. He’s one of the many of you who updates me with the latest news of local grocery-store policy changes and developments, which I check into and report back to all of you here.
He also knows the tricks when it comes to combining his stores’ savings programs with coupons to stretch his grocery budget. So it’s no surprise that his savings prowess was part of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Clipping Coupons is Just the Start.”
I’m dedicating this column to some of Oren’s techniques that will help all of us save more money in 2008.
Smart grocery shopping is only the beginning of Oren’s financial strategies. The Journal article references his grocery savings, but only as an example of Oren’s overall savings strategy. Once you learn how easy it is to pay less for the same groceries others buy at full price, why wouldn’t you take that same approach with any purchase? As Oren has learned, that approach can save thousands of dollars over time, which may lead to true financial freedom.
When there is a bargain at his grocery store, Oren stocks up on as much of it as he can afford. This way, he doesn’t end up paying full price for any of his favorite items in the future. Combining coupons with the low sale prices can bring prices down to only pennies per item. One example cited in the Journal piece: Oren purchased 44 bags of frozen vegetables for 17 cents per package after using coupons. When his store’s house-brand items hit rock-bottom prices, he stocks up on those as well, such as paying only 67 cents for his store’s two-liter brand of soda. Overall, Oren spends only $40 per week on groceries for himself and his wife to eat well. The basement of their house is stocked floor-to-ceiling with staples and non-perishable items bought on the cheap.
Oren estimates that he saves at least $2,000 per year with grocery coupons. In addition to paying low grocery prices, the Spieglers also buy all of their clothes at clearance prices, and they earn a 2-percent rebate on all of their credit card spending. Of course, they pay the credit card bill off every month to avoid interest charges. They also manage to enjoy regular vacations to Florida and California (with bargain airfare and hotel rates, of course).
Oren proves that squeezing the pennies from your basic household expenses can add up to real bucks. At age 52, Oren expects to be able to save enough money to insure a comfortable lifestyle when he retires from his government job. He currently contributes the maximum to his retirement plan and a chunk to his Roth IRA. After all that, he contributes additional savings to mutual funds and other savings plans. His wife also contributes the maximum amount to her employer’s retirement plan and looks forward to retiring early.
Take a page from Oren’s book this year and work to pay less for your groceries, clothing, gifts, entertainment, restaurants and more by looking for sales and coupons. Paying less for the same merchandise or entertainment can help insure a comfortable retirement for anyone. With his approach, you can even make it a fun game.
That’s what I call smart saving!
Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” You can find more of her savings tips in her book “The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom” and on her Web site at www.couponmom.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.