Food: you need it; you crave it; you can’t live without it. But, food is one of the biggest on-going expenses of our lives. When blessed with multiples, your food costs also seem to multiply! ldskatelyn and MandyE are sharing what they have learned about saving money at the grocery store through couponing and price-matching.Couponing – by ldskatelyn
I have been regularly couponing for over a year now, and I am amazed at how much money we have saved. From January to August of this year, we have saved almost $600 using coupons. That is some serious savings! We use coupons on groceries, toiletries, cosmetics, paper supplies, laundry, cleaning supplies, and even at restaurants. I am a sucker for saving money. I love it! I am not an extreme couponer, but I have been able to (finally) build up a little stockpile in our apartment.
Here is a brief overview of saving money at the grocery store with coupons:
- Subscribe to the Sunday Paper. The small cost will be far outweighed by the savings. I promise.
- Sign up for mailing lists (with a non-personal email account) and print coupons from sites like coupons.com, couponnetwork.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com, bettycrocker.com, kelloggs.com, pillsbury.com, pgeveryday.com, rightathome.com, and armandhammer.com. You can also like your favorite brands on Facebook for additional coupons sometimes. Also, many grocery store’s loyalty cards can be loaded with digital coupons.
- Get your coupons organized. I use a basic accordion file folder to store my coupons. Some big time couponers use binders. I used to use just a few paper clips. The point is to be organized so you can find the coupon you need, when you need it. Put them into categories that make sense to you. Also, go through your coupons at least once a month to throw away expired coupons.
- ONLY use coupons for things you actually like or normally buy. Coupons will not save you money at the grocery store if you use every coupon you clip, just because “you had a coupon.” Clip smart, and only use coupons on products you already use or love. If you don’t normally buy Hamburger Helper, then don’t buy it now. (Well, you can use coupons to try out new products from time to time.)
- Save your coupons for when the item is on sale, otherwise buy generic. Often, we like to think that our coupons will make what we buy a great deal. But, it isn’t true. Generics, bulk buys, and store-brands will most likely still be a better deal if you aren’t using your coupons on TOP of store sales. Coupons are for name brand products. Name brand products cost more than store-brand products. Coupons only save you money if you are getting a better deal, after its use, than the going store-brand cost. Stacking coupons on top of great sales is how extreme couponers walk away paying next to nothing for products. It’s also how you can stockpile on your favorite non-food items.
- Make a “buy price” list to build a stockpile. Figure out what is a great price for local produce, dairy, cereal, meats, and so on and compile a list of them. Then, when you see a sale for less than that price, buy them in bulk! Freeze the food, store them around your apartment, and enjoy saving money overtime.
- Use your coupons correctly and legally. Did you know coupons are getting less valuable, and that part of that reason is because of extreme couponers, and people using coupons incorrectly? Know your store’s coupon policy. Some stores double or triple coupons, or stack coupons, but most don’t. Some will allow you to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon on the same item. Do NOT buy coupons from on-line sources, or go past a site’s coupon printing limit. Do not sell your coupons to others. Do not try to use both a digital coupon (loaded onto a shopper’s card) with a paper coupon, unless specifically allowed. Read the fine print on coupons and use the coupon only for the product or products specified. Don’t substitute. And don’t use expired coupons.
Price Matching – by MandyE
I shop using coupons, as well, and I usually record about $25 a month in savings. The bulk of my grocery bill is usually spent on meat, dairy, and produce, though, and I rarely find coupons for those items.
To save on what we buy most, I take advantage of Walmart’s price matching policy. While Walmart’s prices are generally pretty competitive, some other chains run a high/low price strategy, where they will offer a few items at a considerable discount. Walmart will match the advertised price from any local competitor, allowing me to take advantage of those sales without running from store to store. (Click HERE for Walmart’s corporate policy.)
Every Sunday, I sit down with a stack of sale papers for the local grocery and drug stores. I make a list of sale prices for items that we like. Occasionally I find prices on packaged goods, like cereal, crackers, or cheese, but the bulk of my price matches are on produce.
For example, Walmart currently sells pineapples for $2.98 each. A local store was running pineapples on sale for $1.00 last week…you’d better believe we ate our weight in pineapple!
At the cash register, I simply say, “I’d like the price from XYZ Store on this item.” The cashier may reference the sale paper from that store, and then she rings up the item at that price.
We eat a LOT of fruit and vegetables every week, so I save an average of $20 a week on produce alone!
In addition to the awesome savings, this policy allows me to do one-stop shopping, which is so very helpful to a mom of small kiddos.
To the tips that Katelyn outlined, I would add that I keep a spreadsheet of my weekly savings. It takes a few extra minutes to go through my receipt when I get home, but it’s so rewarding to see how much money I’m saving our family. It’s definitely motivation for me to continue the effort…and it occasionally serves as justification for that trip through the Starbucks drive-thru!
ldskatelyn is a stay-at-home mom to twin girls and a baby boy. While her husband is in charge of bringing home the bacon, she pays the bills and manages the finances. She prides herself in making ends meet, saving money, cutting costs, and getting great deals. It was her idea to put together this savings week because she is so passionate about money. Find out more about her life at What’s up Fagans?
MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.