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Everday Cheapskate: Secret insider savings for the patient buyer

I enjoy discovering secret information — stuff most people don’t know about. And I love spreading the word. Here’s an example: My supermarket, like most, offers a “rain check” if it runs out of a product that is on sale. This is really great, in my opinion, because my store’s rain checks have no set expiration date.

Here’s another secret: There’s no limit on how many of that item I can get later — at a more convenient time — with my rain check.

Case in point: Last summer, my supermarket advertised its London broil cut of beef for $3.99 a pound. That’s a bargain where I live. And sure enough, they sold out before noon on Sunday, the day I was shopping. No problem. Because my goal was to load up my freezer, I asked for a rain check. A full two months later, when London broil was at its regular price of $7.99 a pound — quite plentiful in the butcher’s case and, I believe, a nicer selection — I bought 10. And, yes, I got the $3.99 per pound for the lot. I smiled all the way home.

I am excited to have just learned another secret. Don’t we all believe Starbucks has four sizes of drinks? Tall, Grande, Venti and the new Trenta size. Well, we’re wrong. There’s a secret size for those who know to ask: Short. All hot Starbucks drinks come in an optional short size. It’s cheaper — and just the right size, at least for me.

Here’s a bonus: The “short” cappuccino from Starbucks is 8 ounces but has the same amount of espresso as the tall, meaning that your coffee-to-milk ratio is much higher. So, if you just want more coffee in your cappuccino or you prefer to spend as little as possible at Starbucks, there are a few reasons to give the short cappuccino a try.

Here’s another secret: The large size of some products in the supermarket is actually more expensive per unit than the smaller size. No kidding! You have to look carefully at the shelf label that indicates the unit pricing (or just figure it out if you’re some kind of math wizard). This is not true of all products — you have to know to check.

Want another? I can’t represent this to be true nationwide, but at the Walgreens drugstore close to my office, milk is $2.99 a gallon — about half the $4.69 supermarket price.

Who would ever think to buy milk at the drugstore? Smart people who’ve figured out that secret, that’s who!

Another place for really cheap, fresh milk in my neighborhood: the Mobile gas station’s mini-mart. They soak you at the pump, but offer a deal inside for those in the know.

Got secrets? Come on. ‘Fess up! Our curious minds want to know.

Mary Hunt is founder of

You can email her at mary@everyday, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators webpage at


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