Watching those famous extreme coupon shows might seem outrageous, but the average person with a little organization and determination, can save big at the cash register. I am just your everyday mom, no stockpiler issues or layers of shelves crawling up every empty space in the house. If you want to save money, and save big, here are just a few things you can do each week.
- Order more than one Sunday paper: Why is this important? When there are great deals at the grocery store, you don’t just want to buy one, you want to buy up to 5. This is the easiest way to maximize your savings. Call your local newspaper and ask for a special deal on the Sunday paper only - then get 2,3,4, or 5 issues. Any more than that and you might be “extreme”. I promise this will pay for itself in one month!
Example: At the Fort Bragg North Commissary last week they had Tresemme shampoo and conditioner - the giant size - on sale for $2.99. If you just had one set of coupons from one Sunday paper you would only have one $3.00 off Tresemme. That item would be FREE! So if you have 5 papers, that equals 5 $3.00 off coupons, which gives you 5 FREE shampoos or conditioners! That is a 100% savings! And what if you are picky about your shampoo? Well the people at the Salvation Army sure aren’t - or the food pantry - or the homeless person on the street - so keep one or two for yourself and give the other 3 away!
- Don’t use THAT coupon: I was in a bad habit of just using a coupon because I had a coupon. This is THE most common mistake people make when trying to use coupons. The grocery store people are trying to run a business. They know what coupons will be in the paper - it is no secret. They might actually MARK UP an item because they know there will be a coupon in the paper that weekend. We have to outsmart them and resist the urge to use a coupon just because we have it. This means you have to know your prices.
Example: If you know that you usually buy Kelloggs fruit snacks for $2.99 and there is a coupon for .50 cents off of 2 you might use this coupon - but DON’T! Wait for the fruit snacks to go on sale for $1.99 and then use your coupon. Even better - Harris Teeter had a deal when you bought 4 boxes Betty Crocker fruit snacks they were .99 cents each. I had 2 coupons for .50 cents off of 2 (and Harris Teeter doubles the first one) so it was like $1.00 off of 2, so when I bought 4 at .99 cents each and used those 2 coupons, I got them each for around .60 cents! Yes, that’s right - I got NAME BRAND fruit snacks for a little more than .60 cents each!
YOU WANT TO USE YOUR COUPONS WHEN THE ITEM IS ON SALE FOR THE LOWEST PRICE NOT JUST THE SALE PRICE. KNOW YOUR PRICES!
- Read through the ads: I used to get the grocery adds and just throw them out. After all I had my coupons cut for what I was going to buy. That is backwards thinking, but also the most common mistake. Look at the ad first, then cut your coupons based on what is in the ad, and check for the lowest prices, then you really start to maximize your savings.
Example: While looking through the ad I noticed the new Kraft Fresh Takes (which looked really yummy) on sale - at the cheapest price I have seen them - for $2.99 and it was buy one get one FREE - so you are getting 2 for $2.99 - which is a great deal by itself, but then I had TWO coupons for .50 cents off and Harris Teeter doubles the first coupon so it looks like this:
2 at $2.99 = $1.50 each
- .50 cents coupon doubled = - $1.00
- second .50 cent coupon (not doubled)
2.99 - 1.00 - .50 = $1.49 for 2 = $.75 cents EACH! Woo Hoo! That is the lowest price you will ever find this item - so we planned our menu around this and maximized the HUGE savings. Imagine if you had bought a few more papers - you cook a great dinner for that new mom, or have some friends over and try out a new recipe. Everyone is a winner.
- This is a process: Don’t give up - Every trip to the grocery store is a learning process. After about 3 months I was saving and average of 30% each trip. After about 6 months I have learned more, figured out the best prices and sales, and on my most recent trip saved 45%.
I spent $144 on groceries for a family of 5, and saved $115 on that one trip to Food Lion. That was a 45% savings and it was AWESOME! I also got a $10 off coupon for my next trip which is even better! I refuse to be one of “those people” who go to one store for one thing, and another store for 2 others. That is just a waste of time and gas. I just look through all the ads, see which has the best deals, and shop there!
Baby steps, read your ads, and know your prices. Plan out your next trip to the store and have fun saving money. It is so simple, everyone should do it.
What coupon strategies have worked best for you? Tell us in the comments below.