A Stingy Scoundrel Explains How To Save On Groceries By Price-Matching

I wrote a (hopefully) humorous money-saving book called Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets. The New York Post called it “required reading” Sunday, although not everyone’s a fan.

It’s a parody of personal finance books, and full of all sorts of naughty chicanery that is probably best left laughed about rather than actually done. But perhaps you can get some mileage out of this comedic take on slashing your grocery bills through a mix of extreme price-matching and checkout counter bum-rushing:

Nearly every supermarket nowadays runs a price-matching program meant to satisfy customers’ nagging suspicion that they’re charging more than the competition for a lot of their stuff. The policy is present more as a security blanket than anything else, set in place by corporate bigwigs who figure not enough customers will actually go through the labor-intensive process to save a few cents off their pinto beans and slash into their stores’ profit margins.

This way of thinking makes a lot of sense. To make sure you’re saving the maximum amount, you need to jot down an ironclad shopping list, obsessively scan every newspaper ad, and then set up a spreadsheet that helps you annotate the ads with the pertinent low prices at each store. Do all that, and you’re rewarded with the opportunity to make everyone standing in line behind you want to shoot you in the back of the head because you’re holding things up by making the cashier verify each price.

But, there is another way: a way that skips several of the steps and saves you more money than even the most anal-retentive, price-match maven.

Here’s what you’ll need: a stack of sticky notes, a pen, and an armful of glossy grocery store ads. Lug all that into the shopping cart and you’re in business. Affix one of your Post-its to every non-store-brand item you come across, then name your own price, making sure to deduct a substantial but not-quite-insane amount from the price tag. You use the pen to jot down the “price-matched” figure you’re willing to pay for each item, and you can even go the extra mile for feigned authenticity by adding in a random competing store name to each sticky note.

As you approach the front of the checkout line, the checkout lady will immediately attempt to head out on break. But she’ll warm to you once she sees how organized you are, and will happily tap your savings into the register. In most cases, the checkout clerk will be so confounded with the hassle she’ll approve of all your prices just to keep the line moving.

Only the most bored or crazy checkout folk will sort through that unwieldy stack of ads to verify your sales notations are accurate, or compare your prices with their online database of competitors’ sales, but it’s still wise to avoid shopping during off-hours in order to avoid empty lines. The busier the store is, the better.

The book also tells you how to save big on engagement rings (buy a cubic zirconium ring and pass it off as a family heirloom), make your milk last longer (after you’re done with your cereal, poor it back into the carton) and cut down on your tobacco and lung cancer budget (don’t smoke).

If that kind of thing is your bag, I won’t stop you from joining the book’s Facebook group.

Does anyone out there have any funny, obscenely frugal tips that are too embarrassing to use in real life?

Required reading [New York Post]