As of this past Wednesday, August 1, Vons/Pavilions stopped doubling here in Southern California. They’re our Safeway affiliate, and their move means that the only major supermarket that now doubles coupons here is Albertsons – but you need a special “Twice the Value” coupon to double coupons there, and there aren’t nearly as many Albertsons stores as Vons and Ralphs (our Kroger affiliate, which stopped doubling in the spring). In fact, the nearest Albertsons is more than 10 miles away from my home – as you might imagine, I never shop there.
But living in the Land of No Doubles, as couponers call areas without double coupons, doesn’t mean you can’t save money. Of course you can! Here are some strategies that I’m using to keep my expenses down despite the changes in coupon policies:
Be patient – Deals and coupons change all the time. For example, it had been a long time since I’d seen free or even super cheap hand soap. But the $1/1 Ivory coupon that was in last month’s P&G insert made for free bottles of hand soap when they were on sale for $0.99 at Vons. It was a deal I don’t recall ever seeing before, and I’m sure other new deals will come along.
Keep up with coupons – This one goes hand in hand with the first tip. Because I still coupon a lot, I had six of the Ivory coupons. Over multiple trips, I was able to buy six bottles of hand soap for free and add to our stockpile. It’s tough to build a stockpile with only one coupon, so get multiple copies of the Sunday inserts if possible. (For locals, keep an eye out for the $9.98 Sunday-only subscription offers from the LA Times – and if you already have such a subscription, they’ve been renewing at that rate if you ask.)
Shop at multiple stores – It’s always been the case that you’ll save the most money by buying the best deals at different stores each week, but note that this really only applies if you’re not driving all over the city or you’ll spend your savings on gas. This also requires discipline, and buying only the real bargains, not impulse purchases.
Shop at farmers markets – Prices at the farmers market may not be the lowest available, but the produce is generally so fresh that it lasts much longer than produce bought at a store. Also, I find that although they don’t have the “organic” label, the produce is generally grown without chemicals, and the prices are lower than “organic” foods.
Shop at Target (and/or Walmart if you live near one) – All of the Target stores near me have expanded grocery sections now, which include fresh produce, fresh meat, multiple freezers, and more shelves with groceries. Stack price cuts/sale prices, manufacturer’s coupons and Target coupons for some incredible bargains.
Shop at Sprouts? – I’ve never set foot in a Sprouts (though I keep meaning to), but I believe they accept manufacturer’s coupons, and often have sale prices comparable to those of Ralphs and Vons.
Shop at ethnic markets – There are ethnic markets all over LA, and although I haven’t frequented many, I’ve heard over and over again that they have great prices on their specialty items.