Penny Pincher of the Week: Sarah Barrand

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“Cheap” is no longer a derogatory word—now we equate it with thrift, intelligence and quiet moderation. And Main Street America has always been impressed by temperance: Yesterday Warren Buffett bought $44 billion worth of railroad, yet we still love him because he lives in the same modest Nebraska home he bought in 1958 for just $31,500.

Of course, most of us never will get a chance to snatch up a bargain of Buffett proportions. Which is precisely why modern day coupon hunter-gatherers like Sarah Barrand of AThriftyMom.com serve as an example for those of more moderate means looking to get frugal fast.

Solidly middle-class folks and billionaires alike are fascinated by the art of the steal. We found Barrand noteworthy because she seems seriously committed to chronicling how she saves her family money. On her blog, she publishes a monthly “Budget Review” sharing with readers clear photos and prices of all the items she bought at deep discount during the previous month. And it’s all thanks to the magic of coupons and sales promotions.

Let’s take last month: “Before sales coupons or sales this would have cost $461.84, but because I waited to match my coupons with a great sale I was able to get it all for $95.57.” She saved close to 80% this way. The stockpile of goods she bought in October is a truly impressive sight.

How does she do it, exactly? “I do not shop like a ‘Normal’ person,” she explains on the blog. We assumed as much.

She stocks up on items at their “lowest price point for the week.”

“I bring them home and add them to my Pantry which is full of items that I use to make my families menu. My freezer is stocked with meat, so between the pantry and the freezer I do not really ‘NEED’ to buy anything. Which allows me to only purchase things at a price that I am happy to pay.  Of course I have to buy my perishable items every week, like milk eggs and veggies.”

This method requires a lot of discipline, but it’s doable if you are willing to scan multiple Sunday papers for coupon inserts, as Barrand does. She describes this as the secret to her success; she told us via e-mail that this system allows her to save "hundreds of dollars a month."

So what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of the Sunday paper and pull out those scissors. It may just be worth your time.

You could be next! Want to nominate yourself or a friend as MainStreet’s Penny Pincher of the Week? E-mail the reporter at David.Seaman@thestreet.com with your suggestion.

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