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Are You A Savvy Shopper?

Updated on January 3, 2011

Cheap, Frugal, Tightwad or Thrifty?

My Grandmother, with a hard life, reared her family through the Great Depression. Her mantra was, use it up or do without. She could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo cried for mercy!

She taught me by example, no lectures were needed. Reroute your wash water to the garden, carry it by the bucketful if you need too. Shovel the chicken waste into the wheelbarrow and empty it among the peas and beand. Carry the corn stalks to the pig pens, and the cobs to the cattle barn. No need to walk around the block! Work was our exercise.

Seal your dried out envelopes with the egg white that was left in the shell, crumble the shell and feed them to the chickens and birds for the needed grit.

Scoop the ashes after the fire and use them for lye in soap making, which would in turn be used to wash our clothes. She never heard the term "recylce"......she just knew what to do. To her, 'green' would have meant something to cook.........fiber anyone?

Plant that sprouted potato.

Tailor those jeans to fit another person.

Put a lace on that skirt and extend the hem.

My Grandmother did these things , and others, because she wanted her family to survive.

My Children Shunned The Lessons

Frugality has followed me as I reared my own family. There was no longer a depression. Many Americans, my own family, were living in excess. We could now " afford" to waste! Or so, we thought. It went against my grain. It was a struggle to teach my children the same values of thrift that I had known. They knew so little of hardships. They were the protected generation.

One daughter had good taste and fashion sense. You could say, she had a champagne taste on a beer budget. She did not like my car, because it was much older than what the parents of her friends drove. At one point she remarked to me, " you could drive a new car if you wanted to". My simple answer was, " yes, I could, but you would not have a new dress with matching shoes and handbags for every dance that comes down the pike". She would come to appreciate that some years later.

I continue to drive an older model vehicle. I expect I always will. Paying cash is my mantra.

It Is Not " Cheap"

If my hubby needs a pair of work boots, I have no problem with the cost of a well made boot He needs to stand firm and steady. He needs the protection of well made footwear. I will ask him to drive across the street to prevent spending an unnecessary $25.00. It is not worth the trip of an additional 250 miles and the time it takes to make the trip to save the same 25$. I would pay any price for secure footing on his physically demanding job.

I will pay more for the dress that I do not have to alter , rather than detroy the cut or fall of the design and ruin it all. It is wise to pay for quality when quality matters.

It is wise to count your pennies, when it does not cost you dimes to do it. My time and trouble are worth something.  So is the price of quality  work that I can not do.

Shopping Lists

Many women do not like to grocery shop. While I do not enjoy a hurried trip or a crowded store, grocery shopping is a game to me! One, that I seldom win.

My hubby suggested years ago that I plan menus. My (presentable) reply was, " I don't know on Tuesday, what I want to eat, much less cook on Saturday". I still take that stand!

Progress has been made. There is always something that can be cooked or eaten in the house. There are always plenty of choices, both in meats, and vegetables. Staples are always in the cupboard. My planning has gotten better, but winging it is still my style.

What I have learned to do, is to clip coupons, being aware of the products that I normally buy and those I do not.

 Reading the various grocery store circulars has become an adventure! Keep in mind, I will drive across the street to save a dollar, but not across town.

The shopping list has become an art-form. My most recent ones looked somthing like this:

milk---25 Cents off on 1/2 gallon

cheese---15 cents off on Kraft selects-----compare to store brand

toothpaste----25 cents off on Colgate---compare to Crest

dog food---------get at dollar store

trash bags----dollar store

batteries for smoke alarm-----shop around, check dates

ham for sandwiches---compare price per pkg-vs- slicing your own ( its so hard to pull out the knife!)

dried beans or peas-----look at store specials

fruit----look at store more bananas

laundry and dish soap-----dollar store----coupons----check against other brands

You should get the idea by now........

On my last shopping trip, I gathered the coupons, the reusable bags and headed out, well armed.   My list, with notes, remained in the seat on the other side of me.

Sometimes, it is left on the kitchen table. So much for the effort!

Do be is YOUR money. You traded a skill, a knowledge or your labor for it.

Be aware, even when you have no coupon to entice you.  Know how to cook what you purchase.  If your family will not  eat it, it has no value among your grocery shopping.

A Brief Timeline of Coupons


Coupons first saw widespread use in the United States in 1909 when Mr. C.W. Post conceived the idea to help sell breakfast cereals and other products. Today, more than 2,800 consumer packaged goods companies offer coupons for discounts on products. In 2010, coupons for consumer packaged goods generated more than 3.5 billion dollars in transactions within the U.S. alone.

There are many different types of online coupons such as discounts, free shipping, first-time customer coupons, and free giveaways .A time line for the history of coupons:

1887 - Asa Candler used paper tickets for free glasses of Coke to help market his new soda

1909 - C.W. Post used 1 cent coupons to start marketing Grape Nuts breakfast

1930 - Coupon usage grows dramatically during the great depression

1940 - Big chain grocery stores begin to use coupons to attract consumers away from purchasing at local markets

1957 - Nielsen coupon Clearing House was created to be devoted entirely to coupon redemption

1965 - Half of all the families in the United States begin cutting coupons

1990 - The invention of the internet leads to the downloaded printable coupon and online coupons

1992 - The last year coupon usage is on the rise for the next 17 years

2002 - Americans saved $3.8 billion shopping with coupons

2009 - The government uses coupons to promote converter box sales for the digital transition


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    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I really like your hub and relate to cutting corners as that is how I grew up also. We always had food, I learned to sew quite well, and so forth. Very enjoyable hub. Rated up and interesting.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Thank YOU so MUCH, onegoodwoman! You remembering me...makes my day. Thanks again. Im going now. In pain. And have to listen to this old body. I hope spring comes soon so I can unleash all of the hubs Ive got pent up. Merry Christmas and Happy 2012 to you.///Kenneth

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      onegoodwoman, Hi! Remember me? I wanted to pop-in and say, Merry Christmas to you and yours. Before I get to telling about 'me,' I voted up and away on this hub, and when I shop, Im a frugal shopper. I love saving money. I enjoyed this hub. You are a wonderful talent. I have to slow down some during the wintertime due to the Accelerated Fibromyalgia and Neurohopy I have in my bones, joints, neck, spine..and cannot publish 2 hubs a day like I used to. I knew that someday these 2 bullies would catch up to me, but with my spinal injections every 3 months in Tupelo, Miss. and daily meds, I am now "going to the dark night gently," but fighting. Screaming. Every step of the way. I hope you havent forgotten me. I wanted to give you a real Christmas surprise with my visit. Take care and have a wonderful holiday season...Kenneth

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      First, thank you for taking the time to read

      an " old " hub, and to comment.

      Now, that the formalites are out of the way,

      would you like to sit down, share a pot of coffee,

      and discuss the tremendous influences that our

      Grandmothers have been?

      Surely, like me, you have pondered, " if Nana

      was born in my generation, how would she be different"?

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Loved this hub! Two phrases I use today came from my lovely Nana , 'If in doubt, do nought' (it rhymes in my part of England, basically she meant 'if you're not sure, don't so anything') and if we left any dessert, 'your eyes are bigger than your belly.' (meaning we had deliberately overfilled our dessert bowls and then couldn't eat it all).

      Her wisdom and humour is still part of my life, even though, sadly, she isn't any more.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      Welcome, new reader.....

      The older that I get to be, the more like my Grandmother

      that I become.....

      It does not stop with medicine, it also involves rerouting my waste water to the garden, hanging the clothes on a line, deciding that the cost to " go and get" is more than the value of the item!

      She reared her family during the "Great Depression".....and they have prospered.......she must have known several things to help us today~~

      Hope to see you again.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      onegoodwoman, how times do indeed change. I too have been very influenced by my Grandmother..she always encouraged me to take "natural" remedies, and still to this day I hesitate before buying any medicine from a pharmacy. Loved the hub.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      Thanks for coming by!

      A co-worker and I were discussing this

      earlier in the week. I shared with her,

      what I have thought for many years, even

      while my own kids were youngsters.......

      we, as parents can give them too much and

      make their journey too easy. Parents must

      share the blame.

    • myi4u profile image

      myi4u 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Younger generations nowadays just take everything for granted. I am just wondering if there are actually more bad apples now compared to the past. My friends who are rich do not tend to splash their cash for nothing. But kids nowadays just spend on whatever they like and think later. Some people lead a luxury life but the truth is, they are debt laden with credit card bills and loans.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      How true....but I like knowing that I used our money well, and that I don't have to spend it~

      Thanks for reading my hub.

    • suncat profile image

      suncat 7 years ago

      Savvy shopping is lots of fun because you can do it more often with the money you save :)

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      R Talloni,

      Oh, I see that movement, to living frugaly, simply,

      and a return to wholesome foods, unfolding before

      my eyes......

      My kids think it is a new trend!

      Thanks for coming by, it is good to see you again.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Good stuff with interesting highlights! :) I believe that it may not be years later that today's youngest adults "come to appreciate that" as your daughter did. Your making the concepts available to the world will be helpful to those who don't quite grasp their importance!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      Thanks for your support!

      My Grandparents continue to influence

      and guide me, even today.

      Thanks for coming by.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      GREAT Hub! Love Grandmother's wisdom and guidance. Wonderful ending too!

      My Grandmother was very frugal - I too remember her ways and I also remember her words.

      2011 will be a bountiful year for all of us - wishing you and your family the very best life has to offer.

      Moments are memories, cents are to be saved, love to be shared.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      So good to see you in the new year!

      Awareness is the greatest portion of good

      financial management. By whatever term

      you may be comfortable with, there is confindence

      that you run your home effieciently.

      There are truly few of us who could not

      do with some encouragement and fine tuning.

      We live in a throw away consumers society.

      The change has began taking place. It is

      a good and worthy goal to conserve our

      resources and money.

      On a different note, I did not know I was

      poor until junior high school.

      My Grandmother gave away so much food, and

      flower plantings, and several ladies brought

      her laundry to our house on Monday to wash in

      her wringer washing machine.......I thought we

      lived well. It was a shock to realize the farming

      community was the one, being looked down upon.

    • giselle2323 profile image

      giselle2323 7 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

      Hello Lovely Lady,

      I grew up with the clear understanding that we were poor. Poor compared to many of my friends. Poor because of the neighborhood we lived in. But my mom knew how to shop smartly. I try my best to remember all that she taught me. I would not consider myself frugal, just aware. Thank you for another great hub!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      No, I haven't seen it.

      That is what I call an artform! That has

      to take time and talent. Wonder if they

      'hire out'?

      Good to have you here~~

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      A note pad on the refrigerator does keep the grocery list uptodate. Just remember to take it into the store with you, leaving it in the car has been my downfall!

      Thanks for coming by and reading my hub.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 7 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Have you seen that new reality show about using coupons? i forget what channel its on, but these people run up a grocery bill up over a thousand dollars and after all the coupons are scanned only pay like thirty something dollars. i think its called extreme couponing.

    • profile image

      CollB 7 years ago

      I now write a list of things I need to get when shopping and the suggestion of using a magnetic note pad on the fridge is one I want to implement. Nice hub.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      I am finally back in my element. The journey has been long. Yesterday, had to be left behind in order to embrace tomorrow.

      There is no more money today, than there was yesterday.

      The same bills , insurance, electricity, taxes, continue.

      It is the possibilites that inspire me. Hours from home, I am at home.

      I am simply content.

      My hubby may leave here without me, come the next assignment. !

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      You always make the most of the comment section!

      My parents, too, were of the "ME" generation. I am so fortunate and thankful that I had such good people who stood in their place!!!!

      The more like them that I become, the more content that I am.

      It is a book, by itself.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Brother Dave,

      I am reminded of a time, as a child, my Grandmother has visitors. They were giving thanks for their favored convienences. One suggested a gas stove, another her electric refrigerator, still another, her telephone.

      My Grandmother remained silent,until pressed.

      Her answer, " running water".

      We complain so easily......without knowing the value of what ease we have.

      Thanks for being here and taking part in the sharing.

      Wish you a good New Year.

    • Judicastro profile image

      Judicastro 7 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

      Much to learn from our fore mothers! Wish I had taken notes. How is your new nest shaping up Ylonda? Think of you often and pray things are going well.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Humans are said to have come a long way, and now we have to learn how to recycle.... I loved this hub, it is written with warmth and great common sense. I did not have any older people around me when I was younger, and my parents was the generation that moved on from farming to more modern way of living. Reading this, I see that I have missed something valuable.

      Now we use coupons here too. Thanks for this well written article, and for sharing your insights on the subject!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      I can remember spending many an hour helping my mom do some of those things. The coal rendering form Potash, one of our best and cheapest cleaning agents and rendering of animal fats is nothing new to me either. The eskimos of Alaska used Whale blubber or fat for many things from detergent to candles.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      As the first to respond to my hub, you get a free coupon!

      She put the ashes through a process of boiling and draining, from bucket to bucket. There was a lot of hissing going on. It took her days to do it. She also rendered her own lard from pork. She would not use the beef fat to do this.

    • Judicastro profile image

      Judicastro 7 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

      Loved the time line, I had no idea when coupons started. My grandmother had a saying that a woman could shovel out the back door with a spoon faster than a man could shovel in the front door with a shovel. Some of the things your grandmother did I never heard of, like the ashes for soap. My mom made soap with lye but had no idea that you could uses ashes for the lye. Great hub. I too use coupons but always check to see if using them is always cheapest. Thanks Yvonne for a very informative hub!


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