Author Topic: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?  (Read 9243 times)

Vanguards and Lentils

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What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« on: February 29, 2016, 05:40:59 PM »
My grocery store has these "e-coupons" that you can add onto your membership card. You go online, browse through the available coupons and clip the ones that you are interested in. After doing this somewhat regularly over the past year, I recently realized that I've only "saved" $17.40 total, and only $4.60 in the past month. Compared with altering a subscription, signing up for a checking account bonus, or just forgoing a meal out, this has been high effort for a very low reward. I don't think I will bother with clipping these coupons anymore, and just divert my efforts elsewhere.

What strategies have you tried and found to be not worth the savings, from a time/effort perspective?

LeRainDrop

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2016, 05:47:29 PM »
Same one as you for Publix grocery store.  Not only are there not all that many e-coupons that I would use, but I also have to remember to enter my phone number into the keypad at the register before I pay, which I forget all the time.  At least at Kroger, the cashiers are trained to ask you for your Kroger Plus card -- there, the e-coupons have been fairly worthwhile for me, but better still are all the targeted coupons that I get from Kroger in the mail.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016, 05:50:05 PM »
What strategies have you tried and found to be not worth the savings, from a time/effort perspective?

Swagbucks was not worth it to me- never even made enough to cash out, so totally wasted time. Checkout51 ended up being like that too, although Ibotta is worth it- better generic/more options and easier to navigate.

Line drying is not worth it. Oregon is just too humid any time but the summer, and I have a hard enough time controlling the humidity as it is.

Hmm. That's all I can think of right now, but I'm sure there are others!

MonkeyJenga

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2016, 05:58:43 PM »
Mechanical Turk. What a boring waste of time.

For grocery stores I never bothered doing fancy coupons or mystery shop things. I evaluated which store was cheapest, shop their sales on auto-pilot, and use a Sallie Mae credit card for cash back. Nothing else seems worth it, considering how low my spending already is.

more4less

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2016, 06:02:31 PM »
My cutoff is around $20/hr. Which usually eliminates all activities like cutting coupons or doing research before shopping for anything other than big purchases.

Zikoris

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2016, 06:30:38 PM »
Honestly, there are relatively few things that I consider WORTH the savings. The majority of things are just so useless. Airline rewards programs seem fairly good, since I travel frequently and it's so little effort to collect points. My usual grocery store was a really good rewards program as well (PC Plus) that I'm able to cash out very frequently for free groceries (just got $30 redeemed last weekend).

I suppose we do a lot of things that other people do to save money, but we do for different reasons entirely. We hang dry everything because it makes things last so much longer, and it's less hassle to only need to use one machine when you live in an apartment with a shared laundry room. We cook and bake all our food because we're fussy eaters, don't like feeling gouged, and think tipping culture is bullshit. We don't have cars because neither of us has any desire or ability to drive.

MsPeacock

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2016, 07:01:08 PM »
Even w/ coupons the brand names cost more than the basically identical product at Aldi's. Occasionally I might clip a coupon for shampoo (because there is one brand that I prefer) if it also happens to be on sale, so I can buy a bottle or two. I just don't find it worth the time to clip coupons for a lot of processed foods that I am disinclined to purchase anyhow. Same with the digital coupons.

I generally don't find it worth my time to drive out of my way to save .02 a gallon on gas or whatever.

ambimammular

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 07:25:16 PM »
We tried switching to a less costly cat food from the fancy boutique brand our cat was used to. Big mistake that we paid for in carpet cleaner.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 07:31:08 PM »
We tried switching to a less costly cat food from the fancy boutique brand our cat was used to. Big mistake that we paid for in carpet cleaner.

Ah yes. We also tried a pet food switch which failed. 100% not worth it.

Vanguards and Lentils

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2016, 06:30:46 AM »
Thank you for the ideas.

And I totally forgot about line drying. Saddest $1.50 saved ever. Would maybe work better if I had a yard instead of turning my apartment into a jungle for a whole day.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2016, 06:33:26 AM »
Coupons drive me up the wall, "here, I'm going to give you a little scrap of paper with some writing on it so I can pay less for this random food/household supply." I still use them for stuff we buy regularly, but I'm just getting more and more frustrated with it. Particularly annoying are single-store, item-specific coupons (i.e. 50 cents off dove soap at Giant Eagle), because that's usually still more expensive than buying it at Target.

Trying to figure out what items are least expensive at whatever store is a close second. Especially when Amazon changes their prices for stuff every day. We've gotten to the point where we know generally what items are best at which stores, but it doesn't stop me from being irritated when I see something for less than I paid yesterday.

little_brown_dog

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2016, 06:36:17 AM »
Cloth diapering - between all the extra water from 3 additional laundry loads per week (not to mention the double rinse required each time), the short tumble cycle in the dryer (unless you want them drying stiff as a board), and then hanging to line dry...they really aren't nearly as cost efficient as many people make them out to be. Disposables are more expensive, but when you take into account the extra water and electricity (not to mention the time it takes to scrape poop off diapers every day, and do extra loads of laundry every week) the cloth diapers barely come out ahead. Most people I know use cloth due to concerns about chemicals in the disposables or because they feel that the extra water use is less of an environmental evil than putting more disposables in a landfill. The fact that they are a bit less expensive is a nice perk, but usually not the deciding factor. I still use them, but not exclusively.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 06:42:24 AM by little_brown_dog »

The_path_less_taken

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2016, 07:04:08 AM »
Thank you for the ideas.

And I totally forgot about line drying. Saddest $1.50 saved ever. Would maybe work better if I had a yard instead of turning my apartment into a jungle for a whole day.


I totally SAW your apartment in my head!   ;-0

 Just fyi, if you're not in a humid climate (New Orleans/Oregon/whatever) the over the door hangers with multiple hooks on them are pretty cool for small stuff: socks/shorts/tank tops. So if you had one on the back (so you're not walking into it) of a bedroom door/shower or bathroom door, and one or two on other doors....it eliminates you feeling like you're living in a wet yard sale.

There's also clothes lines you can hang longways over your tub. My fave is the collapsible metal rack from Costco because it has so many places to hang clothes and is compact: I either set it over a floor vent or in front of the wood stove to accelerate the process.



Not worth it for me has been the various "work online" crap I run into. Clipping coupons for the same reasons stated above, and buying bulk something I can't realistically use: I like bok choy but not enough to buy it at Costco.

charis

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2016, 07:40:58 AM »
Mystery shopping, in general.  The pay is crap.  I now only take an assignment that involves something I need/was planning to do anyway, or family entertainment with a higher reimbursement rate, which is pretty rare.  One company tried to pretend that it is was a good deal to get only $10 despite requiring a drive a sub shop on my lunch hour, ordering a specific meal (costing >$10), and eat in.   It's a good deal for them.

aprilchem

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2016, 08:13:53 AM »
Coupons, for sure.  IMO the cheapest way to cook is to cook from scratch, and I never get coupons for staples like dried beans, wheat berries, rice, fresh veggies, etc.  Only processed foods that we don't eat.  A lot of people swear by them for health and beauty items, but we don't use a ton of those and I don't have the time to figure out which is cheapest.  I'd rather buy the cheapest store brand.

Swagbucks were a bust for me - I don't have the time or the energy, nor the tolerance for the barrage of SPAM e-mails that Swagbucks generate.

Buying the cheapest version of whatever is also often a bust, IMO.  We've gone for quality over cost in the car we drive, the cookware we've bought, etc.  In the end I feel like the items last a lot longer and there aren't as many repair costs as when you buy whatever's cheapest. 


MandalayVA

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2016, 08:24:33 AM »
+1 for coupons being a time suck.  I have the Whole Foods app on my phone and occasionally it'll have a coupon I can use.  Other than that I just watch sales.

As far as changing cats' diets, we recently switched our Poe to Iams, since with only one cat it's a waste to buy the humongous bag of food at Costco now.  So far, so good. 

ketchup

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2016, 08:44:12 AM »
Definitely coupons.  The things I actually want to buy tend not to have coupons available.  I just glance at the grocery sale flyers (online) once a week instead and stock up on whatever staples are on sale.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2016, 09:02:21 AM »
it eliminates you feeling like you're living in a wet yard sale.

I loved this description!

For me, killing myself for those extra drops of toothpaste is not worth it. I'll do what I can by hand (or ask DH to use his superior hand strength to get it out), but I won't cut it open. Not worth it, we have ants all the time so I'd worry about them being drawn in (PS- ants LOVE toothpaste. You've been warned. Moreso the big names like Colgate, less so Tom's and other hippy stuff). Anyway, not worth it to me.

GuitarStv

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2016, 09:06:34 AM »
Cloth diapering - between all the extra water from 3 additional laundry loads per week (not to mention the double rinse required each time), the short tumble cycle in the dryer (unless you want them drying stiff as a board), and then hanging to line dry...they really aren't nearly as cost efficient as many people make them out to be. Disposables are more expensive, but when you take into account the extra water and electricity (not to mention the time it takes to scrape poop off diapers every day, and do extra loads of laundry every week) the cloth diapers barely come out ahead. Most people I know use cloth due to concerns about chemicals in the disposables or because they feel that the extra water use is less of an environmental evil than putting more disposables in a landfill. The fact that they are a bit less expensive is a nice perk, but usually not the deciding factor. I still use them, but not exclusively.

Disposables are biodegradable.  They shouldn't be going in a landfill, they should be going to your organic compost.

Silverwood

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2016, 03:55:31 AM »
You're saying to throw disposable diapers into your backyard compost?  I really doubt that would work.  I think it would take to long and you would have to many for those to biodegrade.  If your city did composting I think maybe that would work?

SeanMC

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2016, 05:39:18 AM »
I agree with coupons and local ads not being worth it. Since I'm not buying meat/animal protein, and my most frequent shopping needs are healthy, perishable item, it almost never bothers to check the sales or loss leaders.

If bananas are 20 cents cheaper per lb. somewhere and I'm buying 5 of them (5 bananas that is, not 5 lbs!), driving somewhere out of my way or planning for the sale store is (figuratively) bananas.

Also not worth it - cheap paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels, and so on.

Dezrah

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2016, 05:45:18 AM »
Public transportation for me :/ but this is more about time than money.

Driving the most direct route can take about 20-45 minutes depending on traffic.  I could take the train that stops right near my office, but even a monthly pass would still come to $5 per roundtrip, with a guaranteed 45 minute commute one-way, and I'd still have to drive 10 minutes to the Park-and-Ride station.  Taking the bus  instead would definitely not be faster.  On top of that, my car is at the point where depreciation and wear from milage is minimal and it's generally fuel-efficient.

Our apartment lease will be up in a few months though, so I'll either be looking to move closer to work, closer to the train stations, or both.

GuitarStv

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2016, 07:31:13 AM »
You're saying to throw disposable diapers into your backyard compost?  I really doubt that would work.  I think it would take to long and you would have to many for those to biodegrade.  If your city did composting I think maybe that would work?

No, not in your back yard.  Most cities have laws about composting of human waste for disease control reasons.  They should go in the organic compost that your city takes each week.

MayDay

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2016, 07:32:18 AM »
Coupons, except the Kroger ones that are based off what I actually buy.

Cloth diapers for us, hard water made washing a nightmare that required multiple hot water rinses, aka money and time.

I have a low tolerance for doing 4-5 errands in a row to save gas. I end up impulse purchasing stuff by errand #3 which negates the savings. I still try, but I'm more realistic about how much to do in one day.

Inaya

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2016, 07:34:00 AM »
Manually hauling large/bulky objects from the store (bottles of water, toilet paper, detergent, etc.) when I can get them delivered is totally not worth the savings. PrimeNow is free delivery and the markup is minimal, so the additional cost is mostly tipping the driver. So yeah, it's a bit cheaper to buy 40 rolls of paper towels and 25 lbs. of detergent at Jewel and haul them home on foot--but it's no fun and can be a little dangerous.

Paper coupons are absolutely not worth my time--you really have to have a car to maximize coupon clipping. I do use digital coupons though. Jewel has a pretty good app, so I can build my shopping list directly off their weekly circular and a quick browse of the digital coupons sometimes yields some extra savings for a couple extra seconds. Target's Cartwheel app sometimes has some really good savings in addition to 5% savings on almost every store brand category (which becomes 10% if you use RedCard).

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2016, 08:27:45 AM »
Mystery shopping, in general.  The pay is crap.  I now only take an assignment that involves something I need/was planning to do anyway, or family entertainment with a higher reimbursement rate, which is pretty rare.  One company tried to pretend that it is was a good deal to get only $10 despite requiring a drive a sub shop on my lunch hour, ordering a specific meal (costing >$10), and eat in.   It's a good deal for them.

I'm having a similar experience with mystery shopping. Often the most challenging part is not the shop itself, but the extremely long, detailed report that the mystery shopping company expects afterwards. Many of the shops pay very little when you factor in all the work you're required to do. (Review the guidelines. Prepare for the shop. Complete the shop, paying attention to specific key details and ensuring that you do whatever awkward thing that company asked you to do. Scan and upload your receipt. Fill out aforementioned long report.)

One mystery shop that I have found to be worth is the oil change shop. The primary company I use pays $25 and up to $60 reimbursement for an oil change. The report is very long, but the value of this shop is actually fair compensation. A DIY oil change is typically $20 in materials and the labor costs are a wash (DIY oil change vs. completing a mystery shop), so I consider it an opportunity to make $25 doing something that needed done anyway.

What else isn't worth it? A ridiculous, but honest answer: cheap toilet paper. I will put in the effort to coupon 12 rolls of name brand TP for $5, so we don't have to buy the lower quality cheap stuff. I don't feel that buying cheap TP is a cost savings because you use so much more of it. Also, life is too short to use scratchy TP.

Similarly I will not buy cheap shoes from a retail store. Poorly made shoes (like most of the shoes at Kmart, Forever 21, H&M, etc.) typically wear out so quickly that they don't have a good cost per wear. My caveat to this is that I will buy cheap shoes in new or like new condition from a thrift store. I recently bought a pair of Payless brand flats for $1. They may only last a year, but that's okay because they were $1.

charis

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2016, 08:55:24 AM »
One mystery shop that I have found to be worth is the oil change shop. The primary company I use pays $25 and up to $60 reimbursement for an oil change. The report is very long, but the value of this shop is actually fair compensation. A DIY oil change is typically $20 in materials and the labor costs are a wash (DIY oil change vs. completing a mystery shop), so I consider it an opportunity to make $25 doing something that needed done anyway.

Which company do you go through for oil changes?  The ones I use always require a specific vehicle make that I don't have.

slappy

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2016, 09:07:40 AM »
This thread is so interesting to me. I cloth diaper and find it to be worth it from a savings perspective. I also love the fact that I never run out of diapers. I never have to stop at the closest store and pay a marked up price.  I started at 11 months with my son, and it has been more than worth it for me. I will note however, that I need every extra penny, because my husband currently isn't working. If finances weren't so tight, I may not find it to be worthwhile. Except that I really do enjoy the part about never running out of diapers. :)

I also buy cheap shoes at Target, Kmart etc.  I bought a pair last year, and I have worn them daily for the entire year. Granted, I only wear them at work. I wear sneakers into work and then change into the heels. So it's not like they are getting a ton of wear and tear.

I'm glad someone mentioned the Target Red Card/Cartwheel.  This is one I've never found to be worth it, because Target prices are so much more than my local cheap grocery store. Maybe I should give it another shot though, at least to check it out and compare prices to see if it would be worth the extra mile up the road to get to Target.

Inaya

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2016, 09:11:55 AM »
Similarly I will not buy cheap shoes from a retail store. Poorly made shoes (like most of the shoes at Kmart, Forever 21, H&M, etc.) typically wear out so quickly that they don't have a good cost per wear. My caveat to this is that I will buy cheap shoes in new or like new condition from a thrift store. I recently bought a pair of Payless brand flats for $1. They may only last a year, but that's okay because they were $1.
I learned this the hard way with boots. I bought a pair of not-Uggs mid-quality shearling boots (Bearpaws). Soles cracked on the first pair after one winter. Thinking it a fluke, I replaced them the next winter with the same boots. Soles cracked after one winter. It would have cost me less to just get Uggs in the first place. This year I got Uggs. The suede has held up much better, and the soles look new.

I've been considering shelling out for some custom shoes because my feet are stupid and shoe shopping is a nightmare.


I'm glad someone mentioned the Target Red Card/Cartwheel.  This is one I've never found to be worth it, because Target prices are so much more than my local cheap grocery store. Maybe I should give it another shot though, at least to check it out and compare prices to see if it would be worth the extra mile up the road to get to Target.
It can be hit or miss. Their really good savings are more typically on the consumer items (clothes, electronics, etc.). But sometimes they'll double up the Cartwheel deals with their weekly ad. Some items are marked up, but it's on my way home (which my local supermarket isn't), so it's nice if I need to pick up a few things for dinner or dish detergent or something--the deals help counteract the markup.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 09:21:04 AM by Inaya »

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2016, 09:21:25 AM »
The shoes one is funny- I have had varied experiences. Ex- the longest lasting pair of flats I have ever had, I bought for $2.50 at payless. I am still complemented on them every time I wear them, and they're going on 8 years now. My 'daily wears' through the summer are those H&M/forever 21 little fashion thin tennis shoes- pretty sure exactly what you're talking about! I bought them $8/pair, and each pair lasts me 3-6 months of wear.

On the other end of the spectrum- boots and athletic type shoes. I wear tennis shoes for work (nurse). I have WRECKED most tennis shoes, even some name brands. So far the only ones to give me decent life have been Nikes and Merrels. And as for boots... yeah, I went through a couple pairs brutally fast. Luckily my MIL bought me Merrel boots for christmas. Man I love that company. I have a pair of the original trail gloves that I have hundreds of trail running miles on, and they still look new. Miracles.

I try to reduce cost on the good shoes though- 6pm.com and the outlet store near me. More often previously, but I still sometimes do TJ Maxx or Ross- bit of a hunt, but when I find them, they're nice and cheap.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2016, 09:44:47 AM »
One mystery shop that I have found to be worth is the oil change shop. The primary company I use pays $25 and up to $60 reimbursement for an oil change. The report is very long, but the value of this shop is actually fair compensation. A DIY oil change is typically $20 in materials and the labor costs are a wash (DIY oil change vs. completing a mystery shop), so I consider it an opportunity to make $25 doing something that needed done anyway.

Which company do you go through for oil changes?  The ones I use always require a specific vehicle make that I don't have.

Intellishop did not specify a particular make for the oil change shop I did. Bestmark posts a ton of oil change shops, but they almost all have specific vehicle requirements.

Jesstache

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2016, 09:56:10 AM »
I've made my own dishwasher and laundry soap and tried several different "recipes".  I just really don't like the way they work or leave the dishes/laundry looking and feeling.  There will be no home made laundry or dish soap in my house again.  I'll stick with whatever is cheapest at Costco, thanks.  I do like my home made vinegar based cleaning sprays and such though.

I stopped cloth diapering when my son started eating solid foods (about 7 months old).  I am not a fan of scraping poo the consistency of thick peanutbutter out of every other diaper.  It's just gross and time consuming.  He's potty trained now (at 2.5) and I have no regrets about dropping the cloth diapers when I did.

In regard's to OP's digital coupon dislike, I actually really love Safeway's digital coupons.  They often have great coupons for produce, dairy, their store brands (even rice and dry beans) and other things we buy regularly and once a month they usually have a flat $10 off of $50 purchase (but more recently they've upped it to $10 off of $90 purchase), which is totally worth it.  I go through the list about 10 minutes before I head to the store and regularly walk out of the store having "saved" 35% or more.  Granted, that's also based on the jacked up "regular price" vs the "safeway member price". It's probably more like 10% from the digital coupons (and obviously more on the weeks they have the $10 off coupons).  I do not put any effort into paper coupons what so ever as that's a total time waste/suck and usually requires the purchase of a Sunday paper, negating part of your "savings".

MillenialMustache

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2016, 02:14:00 PM »
Most rewards programs. I used to do sooo many, and I realized I was just getting one or two small things a year from each one. An exception is one related to a credit card (airlines, etc).

With the Target cartwheel, you can scan all the stuff you are going to buy and see if you get anything right before going to checkout. I normally save at least a couple of dollars and it takes less than 5 minutes (I am normally buying $20-$40 worth of stuff).

stlbrah

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2016, 04:22:14 PM »
selling things on ebay. Decided that if it won't sell on craigslist, it is getting donated.

serpentstooth

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Re: What has NOT been worth the extra savings?
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2016, 05:53:36 PM »
1. Like most people, couponing. I will very rarely do a diaper deal, or pick up a genuine freebie (I paid nothing for a tube of toothpaste last week at CVS, and no messing around with ECBs or anything). Otherwise, I stay away. It's particularly bad in NYC. The inserts (and I have access to like 10 newspapers a week) don't have all the coupons that other places do, and we have a lot of tiny independent chains, so it's not like you can go online, look at a matchup, and quickly pick deals. I shop at Costco, Aldi, my hometown guy for meat and in dire times of milk emergencies, the expensive grocery store across the street.

2. Non pod-based espresso making systems. If my husband won't use it and goes to Starbucks instead, that's not a cost savings.

3. Thrift store clothes for me. I rarely found things I liked and would rather catch a good sale on something new, go without, or buy used on eBay for a bit more, but be able to seek out exactly what I want. It's a better bet for the baby and housewares. And I hate shopping and thrift shopping seems like the least efficient way to shop.