The only thing I used to do to save money on groceries was to make a list before each shopping trip and stick to a monthly grocery budget. I didn’t use coupons because I figured I saved more money by purchasing store brands (preferably store brands on sale) and shopping at discount stores and farmers markets. I wouldn’t buy everything on my list sometimes — if something was too expensive that week, I would either do without or substitute for something cheaper. I didn’t clip coupons and I didn’t even get the weekly grocery ads in the mail because I had unsubscribed from them and every other conceivable form of junk mail.
Then I learned about the Coupon Mom, Stephanie Nelson. Through her website, www.couponmom.com, she teaches people how to save 50-75% on their grocery bills by using a combination of sales and coupons. I’ve had incredible success following her advice. Here are some items I’ve purchased recently and how much I saved:
|Item||Regular Price||Sale Price||Coupon||Paid||Percent Off|
|5 oz. Mahatma|
Honey Dijon Mustard
water 24×12 oz.
The percentage savings may seem a bit inflated to you. The reason the percentage savings are so high is because many chain grocery stores have high regular prices compared to what you might spend for the same item at a discount mass retailer like Target or Walmart. However, because many chain grocery stores double coupons (or partially “double” them-for example, giving you $1.00 off for a 55-cent coupon), you can still come out ahead at the grocery store if you use the sale/coupon method of shopping. Also, no matter where you shop, free is a good price for a full-sized tube of toothpaste.
You may have noticed that one of the items listed above, French’s honey mustard, was free, and I
had a coupon for it, so I actually made $1 on the transaction. This happened because I was overcharged for the item and brought it to a manager’s attention. He refunded the full price of the item and let me keep it, too. Paying attention during checkout and reviewing your receipt carefully before you leave the store are important components of getting the full savings you should on your groceries.
I almost never buy anything at the major chain grocery stores anymore unless the item is on sale and I have a coupon for it. I plan my shopping in advance by looking through the weekly ads and using the Coupon Mom website, which has a database of the unadvertised deals at grocery stores across the country (updated weekly) and even tells you which sale items have coupons and where you can find those coupons. I usually only buy about 10-20 items per week that represent the best deals on the types of products I would buy anyway. And if there’s an item that’s still not a good price even with a sale and a coupon, or if it’s something I don’t need no matter how good of a deal it is, I generally don’t buy it. However, I have bought a few things I’m not sure I’ll use because they were so cheap ($1 or less) and I can always donate them to charity if I end up not using them after a few months.
Finally, this shopping method has allowed me to start accumulating a stash of emergency food and water for both my home and my car. I’ve always put off doing this in the past because I couldn’t see spending $100 or so on food that was just going to sit around. Now that I am regularly getting grocery items for 50 cents or $1 each week, I am able to inexpensively accumulate emergency items.
It’s also important to note that some sale prices are better than others. One week pizzas may be on sale for $4.50, while another week the exact same pizzas may be on sale for $3.50. Once you start paying closer attention to sale prices (and perhaps even keeping a grocery price list), you’ll know then the best time to buy is. The best prices usually roll around every few weeks, and you should stock up and use your coupons then.
If you’ve been looking for a way to cut down on your grocery bill, I highly recommend trying the Coupon Mom’s method. Once you get the hang of the system, you won’t be spending much time clipping coupons or planning your shopping trips, and you’ll be amazed by how much money you’ll save.