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Posts Tagged ‘Coupons’

Want to see part one of my suggestions for saving while grocery shopping? Click here (link opens in new window).

You’ve clipped your coupons and made a list. What next?

Compare. If there are multiple stores in your area, try to compare prices. For me, milk is much cheaper at Walgreens than the local chain grocery — I go through both advertisements each week, and pick up the best deals at each store. Also compare prices between brand-name and generic products — if you use a coupon on an item that is already on sale, the brand-name item can end up being a lot cheaper.

Stick to your purpose: groceries. Avoid buying non-grocery items at the grocery. (Please note that this does not include super-marts that have dedicated departments, but rather retailers that focus on food with a limited selection of other products.) In my experience, toiletries, household goods like paper towels, and seasonal merchandise is priced much higher at grocery stores. You’re going grocery shopping — get groceries, not other junk.

Finally, convenience can be important. Consider the cost of your time, gas, etc. From my apartment, it takes me about an hour to walk to the grocery, shop, and take all of the groceries home in my grocery cart. The prices at the nearby Super Centers (Meijers and Walmart, in my area) are considerably cheaper, but taking the bus takes an extra hour or so. I value my time more highly than theĀ  extra savings, so I choose for now to not make the extra trip; I’ll change my shopping habits after I buy a car in the future.

Waste not, want not. Use up what is in the refrigerator before buying more. Experiment with new entrees and try to plan meals that compliment what you have on hand, instead of adding additional items to your list. Finally, when shopping, avoid buying things just because they are cheap. Consider what you really need — is it even possible to use a gallon of yellow mustard?! It may be a few cents cheaper per ounce, but you have to use a lot of it to come out ahead. Remember, it’s never a good deal if you won’t use it or it’s not a good product.

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Grocery shopping isn’t a hop-in-the-car-and-go process, or at the very least shouldn’t be. While it is definitely easiest to stop by the local store on the way home from work, it would be easier still to just order in carryout or go out for dinner every night, right?

For me, shopping is nearly a week-long process, which sounds very drawn-out and painful, but is much easier than realizing key items have been forgotten when unpacking. Broken down into a few steps, here’s a weekly process for some noticeable grocery store savings —

All week preparation. Keep a list of what items are running low that you’ll need to pick up in the near future. It helps to have a few weeks’ buffer to try to find a sale on items like plastic wrap and graham crackers. If you have way too much of a product, donate the surplus to a food pantry since there many families in every community struggle.

Saving on Sundays. If you get a paper, pull out the coupon circulars and clip coupons for what you use. Have some coffee, listen to the radio in the background, get your five-year-old to help — this shouldn’t be a high intensity activity. Go online and look at the weekly circulars to see what items are on sale. Pay attention to the dates of the advertisements, too. My local grocery store has sales that run Sunday through Wednesday, and Thursday through Saturday. If you will need to make two trips to keep fresh items like bananas on hand, aim to go once during each period to take advantage of all of the deals.

Print coupons online. You’ll need to download a small computer application (which regulates the number of coupons that may be printed per computer — there’s no way around it.) Even if you won’t be using it right away, print a coupon right away if you plan to use it — coupons have a limited number of prints, and popular coupons go quickly. Sites I use include Coupons.com, Redplum.com and Smartsource.com. If you can’t find a coupon for a particular product, you can sometimes find one on a manufacturer’s website.

Make a shopping list based on what is on sale and what you need. It’s never a bad idea to stock up on non-perishables like crackers and canned fruit, but avoid buying more than what your household will use before the expiration date.

Click to continue to part II!

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