Tuesday, January 11, 2011

9 Simple Steps to Save 75% or More on Groceries

This week's tip is for beginning couponers.  Veteran couponers, feel free to give advice as well!

With the success of TLC's "Extreme Couponing" (which reairs on January 15th at 10:00 pm EST and January 16th at 1:00 am EST, and will become a twelve-episode series in the spring), there is a lot of interest from those who haven't previously used coupons, wondering how they can get such high savings.

Getting to 95% or more savings on all of your groceries, I'm afraid to say, is going to take some time and a lot of learning, if it's possible at all in your area (due to taxes on food items and specific stores' coupon policies).  But getting to somewhere around 75% savings on many of your groceries is entirely possible and not that difficult.

Here's what to do:

  1. Choose a store to shop at.  Your store should *not* be a store which advertises everyday low prices, because that store will rarely have items on sale.  Instead, it should be a higher-end (but not the highest) store in your area, where the shelf prices might be higher priced, but will also have a sales flyer full of sales each week.
  2. Check with your store to see if they will accept two coupons when you buy two items in a buy one, get one free (BOGO) sale.  If they do not, try another store.
  3. Start collecting the coupons that are inserted in your Sunday paper.  Purchase two copies of each paper per week.  Dollar stores often have the Sunday paper available for $1.00.  Generally there is a RedPlum insert and a SmartSource insert each week; occasionally you will see a Procter & Gamble insert, a General Mills insert, or a local store insert.
  4. Put the coupons in a file drawer or accordion file, and file by date.  The date of the insert is located on its spine.
  5. Do an internet search for "[your store's name]" coupon matchup".  You should find many blogs that cover the sales at your store, and list which coupons are available that "match up" with the sale.
  6. Each week, read the blog entry about the store's coupon matchups and look for the items that are listed as BOGO (buy one, get one free).  By purchasing these items, even without a coupon, you'll already save 50%.
  7. The blogger will list the coupons that match by date and type of insert (SS = Smartsource, RP = RedPlum, P&G = Procter & Gamble, GM = General Mills, etc.). Find and cut out the appropriate coupon.  Sometimes your insert may not have the coupon listed; this is due to regional variations.  When you first start out, you might not have the insert called for, but after a few weeks your stock will improve.  If the coupon calls for purchasing two of an item, you'll only need one coupon.
  8. Or, the blogger might give a link to an online coupon.  Follow the link and the directions to print out one coupon.  Then, hit your browser's back button to print a second coupon.  (If that doesn't work, try reloading the page with the coupon and printing it again.)  Again, if the coupon calls for purchasing two of an item, you'll only need one coupon.
  9. Go to the store, pick out two of the items with the BOGO sale, and present the coupon(s).
So, for instance, imagine that a brand of cereal is normally $3.99 per box.  One week, this brand has a  BOGO sale.  You have  2 $1.00 off coupons for that cereal.  If you bought the two boxes at full price, you would pay $7.98.  With the BOGO sale and two coupons, you'd pay $3.99 - $2.00 = $1.99 for two boxes, or just under $1.00 per box.  You saved 75%!  (Of course, your percentage savings depends on the value of the coupon as well as any doubling that might occur at your store.)

Good luck with your couponing!

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Mom2fur January 12, 2011 at 4:35 PM  

Great tips! I never thought to do a coupon matchup search. I usually either use the circular or the store's site.
The most important thing is to buy things when you can get them cheapest. You might not need that cereal now, but you know you're going to need it sometime so use your coupon-plus-sale deals to build your stockpile!

Creating Nirvana January 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM  

Great tutorial for beginner couponers. I wrote a similar post focusing on ways to save money on local and organic groceries. It focuses less on coupons and more on how to save on produce. http://creatingnirvanatoday.blogspot.com/2010/05/saving-money-on-groceries-while-still.html

Lisa January 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM  

I saw that show on TLC and was amazed at those stock pile rooms! My gosh, these people are passionate about coupons!

Holly January 17, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

Great tips! I always buy the Sunday paper just for the coupons, but then the stack of coupons usually just sits on my counter for a few weeks, because I never get around to cutting them out. Now I know, I just need to get an accordion file and not worry about it!
Thanks for joining my party :)

las930 March 9, 2013 at 1:51 AM  

My husband is finally starting to get the whole coupon thing. Drives me crazy when he can't find something and goes out and pays full price, comes home and I show him where there are 5 of what he just bought, he is starting to ask before shopping. lol

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