C onnelly-Anne Ragley spends only about 30 minutes a week searching for coupons, but she’s saved enough money on groceries and other everyday items to take vacations. For Ragley, the savings are worth the extra time it takes to clip coupons and go to multiple stores for the essentials every week.
With Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, a new grocery shopping trend has come to Columbia. Instead of making a one-stop trip each week, some shoppers hop from store to store, picking up unique items from the recently opened specialty stores and standbys from the classic Kroger or Bi-Lo. Couponing also fuels this multi-store trend.
“I try to identify things we use that are a good deal,” Ragley said. “I always try to have in mind an ideal price.”
Ragley usually goes to two or three grocery stores each week, hunting for the best deals and cashing in coupons. The savings stack up, she said.
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Ragley also takes advantage of regular specials and rewards systems. She goes to Fresh Market on Tuesdays when shoppers can get some items for the discounted price of $2.99. The items range from staples like ground chuck and milk to flowers, seasonal produce and specialty items.
Ragley also uses the CVS ExtraCare rewards system to her advantage, purchasing certain items to generate ExtraBucks, or, as she sees it, “free money” that can be redeemed at the store.
While a skilled couponer, Ragley is far from the fiendish deal hunters you may see on shows like “Extreme Couponing,” a reality show on TLC that features shoppers who may get dozens of one item because their crafty coupon use makes it nearly free.
“My friends sometimes ask, ‘Oh, do you have a basement full of stuff?’ and I tell them ‘No, just a closet with some extra paper towels and a few bottles of Tide,’” Ragley said. “You don’t have to go crazy.”