Central Point resident Lynnae McCoy arrives at Albertsons at 9 a.m. with a list of sale items and a bundle of clipped coupons.
Navigating the quiet aisles of the store where employees are stocking items, McCoy fills her shopping cart with six boxes of cereal, one carton of Bisquick, two quarts of ice cream, nine cans of vegetables, a paper bag of apples, two salad dressing mix packets and small jars of dried cilantro for a total of $23.31, a savings of $58.30 with store specials and coupons and manufacturers' coupons.
BeingFrugal.net — Lynnae McCoy's blog provides tips on saving money and resisting spending temptations.
Every product she buys is on sale, and she has coupons for many of the items.
A stay-at-home mom with a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, McCoy and her husband, who makes a modest income as a radio journalist, made a commitment last year to shed all of their debt.
The couple had accumulated more than $20,000 of debt in student loans and credit card bills.
A friend suggested McCoy write a blog, BeingFrugal.net, to help hold herself to the commitment and to share tips on saving money and digging out of debt.
"It's become incredible how many people read it," she says. "I never expected people to read it."
Her blog includes links to other frugal bloggers and entries about subjects such as what to do when your children want the most popular and expensive toys at Christmas.
McCoy has never been a big spender. She always cooked for her family, unplugged appliances not in use and combined errands to save on fuel.
But to overcome their debt with only one income, she had to learn to cut back on the things she already bought and most of the time needed.
"I've learned as I go about how to save money, and I'm still learning," McCoy says. "I've learned a lot from the commentators on the blog."
She began making her own laundry detergent and household cleaners using vinegar and baking soda.
"They're generally more cost-effective, and they're environmentally friendly," McCoy says.
She checks coupons and store deals on a membership Web site called GroceryGame.com.
"You don't have to do the work yourself," she says.
Nonetheless, pinching pennies involves work.
McCoy often visits multiple stores to find her bargains, including WinCo, Food 4 Less, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Albertsons and Fred Meyer. She often brings a cooler along on the shopping expedition.
"If you make it into a game, it's kind of fun to see how much money you can save," McCoy says.
Albertsons has a reputation for higher prices than some other grocery stores, yet the grocery chain will match competitors' advertised prices and coupons, McCoy says. Shoppers can save a bundle of cash by shopping the store's specials as well, she says.
Using a $1 manufacturer's coupon off cereal and an Albertsons' offer to buy six and receive $6 off, McCoy lands six boxes of cereal for $1 a box on her recent shopping trip.
"Sale cycles go for two to three months, so if you can stock up every two to three months you'll have enough until next time it goes on sale," McCoy says.
One of her biggest temptations for spending money is buying books.
She helped satisfy her literary cravings by finding books at the library or at PaperbackSwap.com, where readers give a book and take a book at no charge except shipping.
"You have to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and not worry about what other people think," she advises. "If you aren't worried about whether you're wearing name brand clothes or something else, it's a lot easier."
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.