Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How far could a smart shopper stretch $1000?

I love, love a good deal. Back in the dark ages, my Mom would clip coupons, scan the grocery store circulars for loss leaders and make dinner from whatever was marked down. She'd spend her weekends driving to three different grocery stores to get all the best deals and insist that any clothing she bought for us kids needed to be marked down at least twice. Clearance rack with a coupon and she'd have approved even the shortest miniskirt.

Her savvy shopping skills were admirable, but a lot of freaking work. As the mother of two small children who works full time, blogs a lot, is studying Hebrew and serving as co-president of the board of her daughter's school, I could totally rationalize Peapoding my grocery list and stocking up on toilet paper, detergent and tampons from Alice. Time is money, and my stay-at-home husband--who does most of the shopping--can't be bothered to bargain shop on his own.

Thanks to the Internet, I don't have to look very hard to score the most amazing deals. Fellow Oak Park mom Carrie Kirby updates Frugalista with the best deals at Chicago area grocery stores and savings codes for local entertainment. She turned me onto Money Saving Mom, a Christian housewife who sees economizing as a call from G-d. If I'm planning a trip to CVS or Walgreens, I'll scan through I Heart Wags or Mommy Snacks first.

I check the Woot sites and the Chicago-specific Groupon for one-day-only discounts on electronics, kids' toys, restaurants and more. If I'm feeling flush or need to buy gifts, I'll browse the online bargains at DealNews. WantNot is another great blog; Mir's alerted me to deals so good I couldn't pass them up--like the time I bought my Dyson vacuum for $249.

There's no denying smart shoppers are out there sharing their wisdom with those of us who want to save big but don't have the time or energy to snoop out all the best deals. It's about time they got recognized--and paid--for their talents! To that end, IRI is sponsoring the Savvy Supermarket Cents YouTube contest, and I--along with Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase from Cool Mom Picks--will be judging. Four category winners will receive a $250 gift card to the store of their chosing. One audience favorite will win a $500 gift card, and an overall grand prize winner will get a $1000 gift card. Hurry, the contest ends October 16th.