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While there are many ways for someone to beat or cheat the system with coupons, I would never recommend doing so. The savings we can achieve legitimately without resorting to fraud are impressive.

My readers have been writing and sharing more tips on how they’re saving money in the face of ever-growing inflation and rising prices at the supermarket. I’m always happy to share your tips with others, as I think we can all benefit from new ideas, insights and strategies.

DEAR JILL: I have gone through periods where I am a heavy coupon user and sometimes not due to life circumstances. In these instances I try to simply shop the sales and keep my out-of-pocket spending as low as possible.

This week my local grocery store had a “Best of Store Brands” sale where the store’s own house brands were on sale for much lower prices than they normally sell at. For example, mustard was 79 cents, sugar was $1.59, cheese was $1.25 and canned soups were 69 cents. I did a stockup on the things we needed and bought many months’ worth on some of them.

I wanted to share this because as you have said before, it is not always about “having coupons.” Jumping on low prices is part of the game, too. — Liz F.

DEAR JILL: If you have been paying attention to the headlines as of late, I believe bird flu is going to cause poultry prices to rise. There have been many farms having to cull their chickens due to this flu, and if you know anything about farming and supply chain issues, this is likely to cause higher prices and perhaps even shortages in the future.

People with extra freezer space should consider buying the cuts of chicken that they enjoy most and keeping it on hand both to beat shortages and price increases. — Matthew H.

DEAR JILL: I want to share a tip about two of my local supermarkets. They send out coupons in the mail once a month, and they are tailored to the items I like to buy. It is worth having an account for their electronic coupons as this is how you get on their mailing list.

These coupons are very personalized. In addition to coupons like “$2 off a $10 purchase,” I receive good offers for items I buy, right down to the brand and variety that I buy.

Since these stores have figured out what I like to buy anyway and are offering me discounts on them, these have also become the stores I shop most often. — Marge T.

DEAR JILL: Here is a tip that is a little unconventional but your readers may like it. A large home improvement chain in the Midwest sells everything from hardware supplies to housewares to groceries. The grocery department is not enormous, but they do have all the staples. Canned foods are particularly inexpensive here.

This chain often has mail-in rebates on everything in the store, and you get 11% of your purchases back. When I shop, I just round it to 10% in my head, so when I look at a $1 item, I know that after rebate, it will cost me 90 cents.

I then look for any clearances on grocery items. I recently found canned tomatoes for 69 cents, so I know after the rebate they will be about 62 cents. That’s a good deal. — Paul J.

DEAR JILL: We live on a fixed income, and the price hikes at the grocery store are painful. There seems to be no end in sight to them.

We have always used coupons from the newspaper, but we recently learned how to load coupons from our store’s website. What I found interesting is that our store sometimes has web coupons there for their own store brands. These coupons are very easy to use because they are structured like “40% off one (store-brand) item” or “$1 off any (store-brand) item.”

I will then look for items from these store brands and use the web coupons to lower the prices even more. Every bit helps. — Jeanie H.

As always, I enjoy hearing from you and sharing your tips with other readers like you! Feel free to continue sending your tips and success stories to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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