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Rant: Price Gouging At The Grocery Store: Why Isn’t This In The News?

 

If someone would have asked me the definition of price gouging before COVID-19 I probably would have said something like, “Price gouging is when gas stations jack up the price of gas during a hurricane.”  Until yesterday I’ve never really thought that much about it because it rarely ever touched my life.   What happened yesterday?  I went grocery shopping.

What Happened?!

I have a pretty firm grocery budget of $150 a week.  Sometimes I go a little over, sometimes a little under, but for the past few years I’ve always been able to feed my family of 4 for a week on that $150.  I’m also a well-seasoned baker and cook so I know how to pinch my pennies and still provide a tasty, nutritious meal.

Yesterday, my $150 got us enough food to last 4, maybe 5 days.  So, I did a little research to find out why grocery prices aren’t coming back down now that everything has been open for at least 2 months.

There are two reasons grocery prices rose during the pandemic

The first was a break-down in the supply chain, which is totally understandable.  People from one end of the supply chain to the other were getting sick.  Factories and processing plants were closed.  When they began to open back up again employers had to pay overtime so workers could catch back up with the demand.  And many employers had to offer pay incentives to entice employees to risk coming back to work.

That all makes sense and, for the most part, it’s acceptable.  These companies are recovering and they’re compensating their employees accordingly.  In the process, prices on products like meat, eggs and cheese have dropped back down to pre-pandemic levels.

The Second Reason Is Greed!

The first thing I look at when I go grocery shopping is the price of meat.  It’s usually the most expensive part of a meal so I shop for the meats first so I know how much money I have left for everything else on my list.  This little system has worked for me for years, but not yesterday.  Because the second reason grocery prices rose during the pandemic is greed.  And greed breeds more greed!

Because consumers can’t go out to restaurants, more people are cooking at home, now.  That means three meals a day, plus snacks, desserts, donuts and coffee, and sodas.  Again, it’s easy to understand why there’s an increase in demand for almost everything you can imagine in a grocery store.  But if manufacturing facilities and supply chains are open and moving, why are prices still rising?

If there’s enough product to more than meet the demand, then isn’t it considered ‘price gouging’ if the prices continue to rise?

I do a lot of baking to help save money.  I bake breads and dinner rolls, and tons of cookies.  (If you have teenage kids in your house you’ll understand why all the cookies!)  According to an article in USA Today just 4 days ago, flour prices are at the highest they’ve been since May of 2013.  From February to June of 2020, flour prices increased 4.5% due to a “surge in demand.”

“Flour is a critical ingredient in baking – an activity that surged in popularity as Americans have been confined to their homes during the pandemic. Vermont-based company King Arthur Flour reported a 2,000% increase in flour sales in March 2020 compared to the same month the previous year.”

Between February and June of 2020 the price of breakfast cereal jumped 5.9%

“Once people started working from home and were more likely to eat breakfast there as well, cereal prices began to spike.”  Again, the ‘surge in demand’ thing.

The price of peanut butter, because of its perceived nutritional value and the fact that it’s shelf-stable, increased 7.9%, also due to increased demand.

Carbonated sodas!  Your favorite soda jumped 5.1% in price due to increased demand.  You and I both know there’s enough Pepsi, Coke and Mountain Dew sitting in warehouses to fill the world’s oceans over and over again, so why should ‘demand’ affect the price?

Here’s the definition of price gouging

Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. Usually, this event occurs after a demand or supply shock. Common examples include price increases of basic necessities after natural disasters.

This article posted on August 3, 2020 at Business Insider demonstrates how billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Zoom founder Eric Yuan, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Elon Musk and scads of others, have managed to become $637 billion richer during the coronavirus pandemic.  But these guys are always in the news.  Everybody knows these guys would sell their grandmother if it meant they could put a few extra bucks in their pocket.

What isn’t being discussed is the companies who are raising their prices due to a ‘surge in demand.’  The nameless, faceless companies out there who grind the corn and then jack up the price of flour.  The companies that grind the peanuts and then jack up the price of peanut butter.  The companies that mix water and sugar, add a few bubbles and coloring and call it soda, and then jack up the price of soda.

Are we not discussing these companies because we can’t tie them to a face with a name, like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk?

Do they get to get away with price gouging because we don’t know the name of the guy who sits in the CEO seat?

The folks in Washington sit up there and argue about whether or not they’re going to send out relief checks or increase unemployment benefits, all while turning a blind-eye toward these billion-dollar corporations that are literally bending Americans over a barrel.  “Here ya go.  Ya wanna eat?  Ya gotta pay for it!”

Again, why is there an increase in grocery prices due to a ‘surge in demand’ if we clearly have enough product to more than meet the demand?  More important, are we now so whipped into submission that we’ll just sit back and allow these companies to dip further into our already penniless pockets simply because there’s an increase in demand?

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Mail Delivery During COVID-19

We Are All Real People

Everyone associated with The Happy Couponer Marketplace is a real person.  Me, all of the Vendors and coupon clippers, and yes, even the Postal Employees who truck your coupons across the country and the carriers who deliver your coupons to your mailbox.  We are all human beings, and because of that:
  • We can all be exposed to COVID-19 – Including Postal Workers – at any time, and become seriously ill.
  • We may all have to self-quarantine for 14 days or more because we’ve been exposed to COVID-19 – including Postal Workers

So, where are my freakin’ coupons!?!?

If you’re like me, you’ve tuned out the TV News lately.  It’s just too freakin’ depressing.
But here’s the thing…
There’s all kinds of political turmoil going on between Congress and the US Postal Service right now and it’s causing major delivery delays across the country.  I’m going to include some links below to some information that’s been posted just within the past few days, but here are a few quotes:

 

“Besides cutting overtime, the new plan halts late trips that are sometimes needed to ensure on-time delivery. If postal distribution centers are running late, “they will keep the mail for the next day,″ Postal Service leaders say in a document obtained by The Associated Press. “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks,″ another document says.”

 

 

“Packages that used to take no more than three days to get delivered are now being delayed for weeks. “Our hands are tied,” one letter carrier told Motherboard, “and we are constantly set up for failure.”

 

 

“The cases (of COVID-19) are exacerbating staffing shortages, said Nick Casselli, president of APWU Local 89. When an employee tests positive, they cannot work for at least two weeks, and employees who have been in contact with them are forced to quarantine for 14 days. If there is no one to fill in, the mail doesn’t go out.”

 

​​​​​​​

So, whose fault is it?

I need someone to yell at!

Quite honestly, it’s nobody’s fault but if you have to point fingers point them at COVID-19 and the White House.

Our vendors are clipping and shipping as fast as they ever have.  If you place your order before Noon Monday through Friday it will ship that same day.  But once the vendors turn those envelopes over to the Post Office there is absolutely nothing we can do to speed up delivery or make sure it’s delivered to the correct address.  Period.

Postal Employees are working harder than ever but there’s only so much they can do, and even in good times they make mistakes, too.  After all, they’re only human.   🙂

I’m Still Happy To Help!

I’m still happy to help so please contact me any time you have a question.  Heck, contact me just to say ‘Hi’ some time.  Some of you have been around for years and I’ve never met you!
But when you do contact me, please keep in mind:
We’re all in this together!
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Save Money on Groceries with Curbside Pick-up

save money on groceries with curbside pick up

Unlike other coupon blogs we’ve always preached that coupons alone aren’t enough to help you save money at the grocery store.  You also have to adhere to a budget, and you have to have a game plan every time you shop.  The pandemic, though, threw a monkey wrench in that game plan. But it also showed us how you can save money on groceries with curbside pick-up.

Let’s talk about curbside pickup

Grocery stores offering curbside pick-up is nothing new but have you ever used it?  Have you ever really even thought about it?  I hadn’t.  I never even looked into it because I assumed there was some additional cost involved that would make it more of a luxury, an unnecessary, expensive luxury.

And then one day, shortly after our governor locked us down, I was loading my digital coupons in my Kroger app when I noticed the banner at the top of the page advertising curbside pick-up.  It caught my eye because I had just been in my local store a few days before and noticed that tempers were beginning to flare and I was concerned about fights breaking out over toilet paper.

No additional charge for curbside pickup

So I clicked on that banner and the first thing I noticed was that there was no additional charge for curbside pick-up.  The ad did say that the fee would be $4.99 after the trial period and that you could use curbside pick-up 5 times before that charge kicked in.  However, I’ve used it 7 or 8 times now and Kroger says they don’t think they’ll ever put that charge into effect after seeing how successful the program is.

You can use coupons on your curbside order

Yes, you can use coupons on your curbside pick-up order.  You are not charged for your groceries until you pick them up.  When you arrive in the parking lot they ask you if you have coupons.  If you do, they’ll come out and get them and deduct them from your total before you’re charged.

Your order is also connected to your Kroger card (or whatever store you’re shopping at) so any digital coupons on your card will also be deducted before you’re charged.  So don’t forget to load those digital coupons!

You can change your curbside order

I usually start my online order 2 or 3 days before I plan to pick it up.  This gives me time to delete that bag of flour because I just found 2 bags in the pantry.  Or I can add butter and chocolate chips to my cart when our chocolate chip cookie stash runs low.

You can schedule your pick-up any time

This is one feature of curbside pick-up that’s really helped save me a bunch of money.  You choose what day and time you want to pick up your groceries and you can change your order any time up until midnight of the day before you’re picking up.  I keep tweaking that total right up to the last minute!

The Best Reason to Use Curbside Pick-up

Now that we have all the little details out of the way, the best reason to use curbside pick-up is that it allows you to manage your budget.  In fact, I usually come in under budget when all is said and done.

As you add or delete items in your cart you can see your total.  That total, though, is based on the advertised price of the item, not the price after your digital coupons are deducted.  And it also doesn’t include deductions for any physical coupons you plan to use.

I watch that total while I’m adding items to my cart.  When that total equals the amount of money I have budgeted for that shopping trip I know it’s time to take a good look at the items in my cart and start whittling out the impulse items to make room for necessities.

Once I’ve moved items in and out of my cart to hit that budget number I usually end up spending less than my budget because physical and digital coupons don’t come off your total until you pick-up your groceries.  It’s like a little bonus!

Shopping online allows you to plan

Now, think about it.  When you go over your budget at the grocery store it’s usually because you’ve picked up a few extra items that weren’t on your list.  Those are ‘impulse items’.  Spending on those impulse items is what puts you over your budget or prevents you from being able to purchase the things you really need.

But who has time, in the middle of a busy grocery store, to take everything out of the cart and sort out what’s necessary and what’s not?  And more important, who has time to do all that calculating and re-calculating?

We’ve always said that coupons alone will only help you save so much money at the grocery store.  Planning and budgeting will up your game to the next level  When you shop online for curbside pick-up you have all the time you need to look at each item and decide if you really need it.  How will it work in your weekly meal plan and your weekly budget?  If one menu item is too expensive this week and it’s throwing off your budget, you have time to shop for a replacement.

Curbside Pick-up After COVID-19

Obviously, curbside pick-up is a great idea during this pandemic.  You don’t have to go into the store and you’re maintaining social distancing.  But I’ve found it to be such a great way to manage my budget that I’ve continued to use it even though most restrictions have been lifted here.

It’s also saved me a huge amount of time I used to spend strolling up and down aisles, looking for the best bargains.   As a bonus – somebody loads all the groceries into your car for you.  I actually have time AND energy left after grocery day!

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Today’s Top Coupons: Get Ready for Back-To-School Bargains!

It’s time for Back-To-School Bargains to start showing up in ads, even though “Back-To-School” will probably mean a lot of different things for kids this year.  Whether they go to school or learn from home, though, kids are still kids and kids gotta snack!

Today’s Top Coupons!

 

Save $1/2 General Mills Cheerios Cereals (exp. 7/18)

Save $1/2 General Mills Chex Cereals (exp. 7/18)

General Mills cereals are currently on sale at Kroger under the Buy 5, Save $5 banner.  Sale price is $1.79 each.  Buy 5 and they’re $1.59 each.  Use this coupon and the price drops to $1.09 for each 8.9-12oz. box.

 

Chips Ahoy!  Nothing goes better with one of those little cartons of milk than Chips Ahoy! cookies.  If they’re learning from home this year, go ahead and give them a glass of milk.  They won’t even notice if you set it down next to a plate of Oreo cookies.

$.75/2 Nabisco Cookie or Cracker Products 3.5 oz + (8/8/20)

Chips Ahoy! cookies are on sale at Kroger this week for 2 for $5.  Use this coupon and they’re just $2.13.

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How To Make Money With Coupons – Our Top Tip!

make money selling coupons at the happy couponer marketplace

Google “how to make money with coupons” and you’ll find almost a billion results.  Most of them will work, but they all have a downside.  Read on and we’ll tell you what really works.

How To Make Money With Coupons

Of course, we’re biased, but we’ve found that the best way to make money with coupons is to sell them right here at The Happy Couponer Marketplace.  Now, hear me out.  It’s a lot more profitable than all those other suggestions combined and it’s very easy to get started.

How Is It More Profitable to Sell Coupons Instead of Using Coupons?

All those other methods for making money with coupons involve you actually spending money while you use coupons.  Sure, you can stack ’em and rack ’em at the checkout stand to maximize your savings, but they only ‘make’ you money when you spend money while using them.

Here’s how those extreme couponers make money with coupons:  They spend hours each week, clipping and sorting.  A few more hours each week are spent planning their shopping trips.  Then hours more go into actually shopping.  And then they have to sort and store everything they bought.  In the end, they maybe made $50 or $60 bucks in cashback deals.  Is all that time and effort really only worth $60?

Here’s how our vendors make money with coupons:  They clip the out of the inserts, sell them to our customers for whatever price they choose, and ship them off in the mail.  Some of our sellers don’t even do that.  They just sell the whole inserts and let the customers do the clipping.  Then, they just sit back and count their money.

Most people have access to dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of coupons that they just can’t use.  But every time you throw them away think of this:  Somebody else out there does want those coupons, and they’re willing to pay for them.  The Happy Couponer is living proof that there’s a high demand for grocery coupons.   If there weren’t we wouldn’t be here.

It’s Not Illegal to Sell Coupons

The first question we’re always asked is:  Isn’t it illegal to sell coupons?  The simple answer is, “No.  No it is not illegal to buy or sell coupons, online or off.”  The Happy Couponer Marketplace has been buying and selling coupons online since January of 2013.  If it were illegal we would have been in jail a long time ago.  So if that’s the only thing stopping you from making money with coupons, then stop worrying and read on.

How Much Money Can You Make Selling Coupons?

You can make as much money as you want!  We have vendors whose sales average as little as $150 a week and vendors whose sales average $2000 a week, sometimes more.  It’s your own business and you can build it to whatever level suits your needs.

What’s So Great About The Happy Couponer Marketplace?

Like I said, we’ve been selling manufacturer grocery coupons online since 2013.  THCM was started when Ebay decided to put tough restrictions on coupon sellers, which forced many sellers off the site.  In fact, most online selling sites won’t allow coupon sellers.  Due to the low average selling price and high number of sales it’s just not worth it to them in terms of customer service.

At The Happy Couponer Marketplace we place such a high value on customer service that we actually handle most of it for you.  If a customer has a problem they contact us, not you, and we only contact you if we need your help.

Aside from taking care of customer service for you, The Happy Couponer Marketplace also provides a safe online space for you to sell.  Customers have no access to you, all payment transactions are secure, and we maintain the website.  All you have to do is sit back and sell your coupons.

We’re also drama-free here.  You won’t see the vendors sniping at each other behind the scenes.  We just don’t allow it.  You don’t have time for that and neither do we.

And, The Happy Couponer Marketplace is completely transparent.  You can read our Vendor Terms & Conditions here and see everything that’s ‘behind the curtain.’

Start Selling Your Coupons Today!

Our site is so user-friendly you could actually get started selling today.  Ready to start making money?  Just fill out our quick Vendor Application and we’ll open up your shop today!

Have more questions?  Use our handy contact form and we’ll answer them!

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Meat Prices Breaking Your Budget? Try These 5 Foods Instead!

As meat prices continue to rise it’s almost impossible to put even a simple meal of Manwich and french fries on the table. Even ground beef is sky high these days. How do you serve your family a nutritious meal without breaking your budget? Here are five foods you can serve that are just as tasty, and even a little healthier.

Eggs

Using eggs as a substitute for meat doesn’t mean you have to serve scrambled eggs for dinner. There are lots of things you can do with eggs. Make deviled eggs. Put boiled eggs in a salad. Make egg salad sandwiches. Add an egg to your fried rice. Make an omelette or quiche. Just one egg has 6 grams of protein.

Get Egg Coupons Here

chicken of the sea tuna coupons

Fish

Yes, tuna counts! So far, tuna prices seem to be unaffected. A 12 oz. can of Chicken of the Sea tuna runs around $3 to $4 and it contains 11 grams of protein. Add tuna to your salad or make tuna salad sandwiches. Whip up a hearty tuna casserole or just stir a can of tuna into your kids’ mac & cheese.

Get Chicken of the Sea Coupons Here

Beans

Ah, beans, beans, the magical fruit. But let’s not forget how nutritious those little guys are. One cup of beans has 8 grams of protein! If your family cringes at the thought of a simple bean soup for dinner, try sprinkling garbanzo beans on a salad or make a batch of humus. Even chili without the meat is delicious and baked beans aren’t just a side dish.

Get Bush’s Baked Beans Coupons Here

Almonds

Almonds? Who wants to eat a handful of nuts for dinner, right? Wrong! One ounce of almonds has 11 grams of protein. Just 23 almonds covers your recommended daily amount of protein. Sprinkle them over your salad. Have them for a snack on Meatless Monday. Add them to your banana bread. Put them in your smoothie.

Yogurt

Did you know there are 85 grams of protein in a cup of yogurt? If meat prices are busting your budget, try adding yogurt to your breakfast menu instead of bacon. Substitute plain yogurt for half the mayonnaise in your salad dressings. Add it to your smoothies. Top it with granola for a tasty snack or hearty breakfast.

Get Yogurt Coupons Here

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Flipz Pretzels Coupon Deal Just $.49 at Kroger

Flipz Pretzels Coupon Deal

This Flipz Pretzels Coupon Deal is too good to pass up.  Get Flipz Pretzels for just $0.49 at Kroger right now and stock up your snack cupboard.  And, you can bet your boots I’m stocked up on these coupons.  Whether they’re the milk chocolate dipped or the white chocolate fudge, please do not stand in my way!

Here’s how the Flipz Pretzels coupon deal works

Regular price is $3.49 for the 7.5 oz bag.  On sale until 7/10/20

Currently on sale at Kroger for $1.99 when you buy 6 or more qualifying products

We have a Smartsource coupon for an additional savings of $.75 per bag, which brings the price down to $1.24 each.

Find Flipz Pretzel Coupons In Our Shop!

Then, submit to Ibotta for an additional $.75 off (up to 5 bags) and your final price is just $.49!

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Combat Rising Grocery Prices During The Pandemic

rising grocery prices during covid 19

If it’s been a while since you ventured into your local grocery store, prepare yourself.  You’re in for a shock.  And I’m not talking about the empty shelves and plexiglass barriers.  I’m talking about sticker shock.  Everybody’s talking about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from Coronavirus.  What we need to talk about today is how to beat rising grocery prices during the pandemic and how to protect your wallet.

Here’s What’s Getting More Expensive

Brace yourself, this isn’t pretty.  Grocery prices aren’t just gradually increasing, they’re racing through the stratosphere.  According to a May 14, 2020 article at CNN on the grocery index:

  • Egg prices shot up 16.1% last month
  • Milk, bread and juice prices rose 1.5%, 3.7% and 3.8%, respectively
  • Fruit prices were up 1.5%, led by apples (4.9%) and oranges (5.6%)
  • Chicken shot up 5.8%, fresh fish soared 4.2%, and hot dogs got 5.7% more expensive

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This ground beef at Kroger?  It used to be around $14.00.  The price has increased by 34%!  And it’s only 73% lean!

rising grocery prices during the pandemic

How To Beat Rising Grocery Prices During The Pandemic

Change the way you look at your shopping list

Be prepared to shop for substitutions for items on your list.  Many of the items you regularly buy will be out of stock, now.  For example, people all across America have decided to use their time during lockdown learning to bake bread.  Good luck to you if you like to keep a few packets of yeast in your pantry, you won’t find it anywhere.

Many of the items you regularly buy will be more expensive, too.  For example, my family likes to keep those Knorr Pasta Sides on hand and they’re usually priced at 10 for $10 at my local Kroger.  These days, they’re $1.25, which makes them not such a bargain anymore.

Go ahead and make your shopping list like you always have but look at it as more of a “Want” list instead of a “Need” list.  You are not going to find everything you have on your list and if you do, it’s definitely going to be more expensive.

Change your family’s eating habits

Like I said, most of the things you normally put on your shopping list are going to be a bit more expensive.  I’d like to be able to say, “Buy THIS instead of THAT” but you just don’t know what’s going to be in stock and at what price these days.

Instead, look around at what’s in stock at a price you can afford and work it into your family’s meal plan.  Grocery stores are set up so that the most popular items are at eye level and that’s where are the empty spaces are.  Look around and you’ll find lots of inexpensive alternatives.

Change the way you plan your meals

Maybe it’s time to forget about Taco Tuesday and the family feast on Sunday.  These days you can’t be inflexible in your meal plans because that taco seasoning is probably out of stock and… have you seen the price for a roast lately?!  If you want to save money you have to be willing to pivot on a dime.  Focus on just feeding your family a healthy, nutritious meal that won’t bust your budget.

Be prepared to shop

If you normally shop the perimeter, now’s the time to branch out and explore the rest of the store.  For example, my family likes a particular brand of frozen orange chicken.  The last time I shopped it was out of stock but as I was exploring the store I found the same item in two other locations – in stock!

The price on chicken these days is outrageous.  That big yellow sticker might quickly put an end to your plans to make chicken pot pies for dinner.  Explore the frozen food aisle.  You might find plenty of stock on Marie Calendar’s chicken pot pies and they’re were cheaper than if you bought all the ingredients and made them yourself.

Start using grocery coupons

Reports vary but the average consumer can expect to save 25 – 35% when they use grocery coupons.  With the right coupons and a well-planned trip you can save 50 – 75% or more.  (Here’s an example of how we saved 83% with coupons!)

I know, I know… You don’t have time to look for coupons and sort coupons and clip coupons and I agree.  These are very stressful times we’re living in and everyone’s schedule has been hijacked.

But the fact is, each one of those little coupons means you’re spending less money at the grocery store.  They add up.  And saving money on staples means you have the money you need to pay for things like meat, eggs, and milk.

If lack of time prevents you from being able to put a nutritious meal in front of your family, let a coupon clipping service do the work for you.  Visit The Happy Couponer Marketplace where you’ll find coupon clippers from all over the United States, ready and willing to help you combat those rising grocery prices during the pandemic.