Hooray for the New Year! It is time to revamp your current grocery budget and set goals for 2009. What are your goals? If your goal is to save a lot of money grocery shopping, you are at the right place.
Since we lost our 2008 Grocery Savings Spreadsheet in our Computer Crash of 2008 and is not recoverable unless I want to spend $1000, I don’t have the exact numbers. Which is only really important for number nerds like me anyway. I had a beautiful spreadsheet (pink and all) and hadn’t uploaded yet thinking I had plenty of time and planned on sharing my graphs and totals with you.
I can give an estimate on my average grocery/toiletry items per week: $80/week for a family of 6 (1 in diapers). Average grocery savings was around 60%. My CVS Savings was around 90%. My 2009 Goal is to cut this down to an average of $60/week. (I say average because there are weeks when I won’t do any shopping because the deals are sparse or I’m just too busy/lazy/bored, etc. to shop.) I think this is very possible by doing more meal planning around items we already have “in stock” and revamping leftovers to reduce spoilage, and getting our almost 3 year old Potty Trained. What are your 2009 Grocery Goals?
Maybe you are completely new to the couponing scene and want to get started but not sure where to start. It does seem overwhelming at first. Start slow, every bit of savings is going to help. One big way you can help yourself is by becoming a regular readers of this blog – subscribe via my free daily newsletter via email or RSS. If you sign up via email, you will get a daily summary of the deals of the day and the weekly grocery store/drug store deals for CVS, Marsh, Meijer, Walgreens, and occasionally Kroger, Walmart, and Kmart already matched up with the weekly newspaper insert coupons, various printable sources, and All You Magazine. Basically, I do the bulk of the work for you!!! P.S. (You can see all the unexpired coupons from All You in my new All You Coupon Database.)
People think I’m Super Woman (or as my daughter “complimented” me – a coupon freak) or maybe that I have more hours in the day but unfortunately I am not and do not have any more hours in the day than anyone else. However, I have developed my own system over the past few years to help myself maximize my coupon savings. I share my strategy and tips on this blog. I save money by using my coupons effectively while buying high quality items. With just a little effort, I can save 60% or more on my grocery bill sometimes much, much more. I am not perfect by any means and mess up deals but I’m still saving more than I ever did.
- The most important: Where to find all these fabulous coupons? Get started: “Coupons, coupons, come out wherever your are” and where to find coupon guide.
- Coupon Lingo and abbreviations – discover what 9-16 S or 10-12 RP means with my handy abbreviation guide.
- Know what the fine print on a coupon means. “Know Thy Coupon“
- Be a confident coupon user. Arming yourself with coupon knowledge is the best way to survive the checkout lane. Each store and sometimes each location has it’s own coupon and sales policies – know these.
- When you are first starting out, I highly suggest doing the first few trips by yourself so you have zero distractions. You can read “Shop with Kids? Oh, NO!” If you know my kids, you know this is a must! ha ha!
- What items do you use on a regular basis? These are the items you want to stockpile at the lowest price possible. For example, I always stockpile cereal when I find it for $1.25 or less or toothpaste when it is .25 or less. I buy it today even if I don’t need it because I know these are items I will use in the future. You can save money by having the items you use regularly on hand because 1) you purchased at a low price and 2) saves time, money, and impulse items when you have to stop at the store for that one item.
- Save your sanity and don’t clip your coupons each week – use the “insert method”. I’ve tried several different methods and I like not clipping my coupons each week the best. I file my weekly inserts by date and then clip only the coupons needed for a particular shopping trip. You can read more about my coupon organization methods “Coupon Organization.” (Includes picture of my unorganized & organized coupons too!)
Don’t just use a coupon, use it effectively. Before I started “hard core” couponing, I used coupons but never understand how to use them effectively. Using coupons effectively means being patient with your coupon until the best possible, rock bottom sale occurs. This is the moment you use your coupon. By using your coupons effectively, you can cut your grocery budget into half or more!
A few tips to use your coupons effectively:
- Choose the stores you are going to shop at. Sign up for their rewards card or any newsletters, etc. You will get the best deals if you sign up for their reward card. Learn their coupon policies (doubling, accept internet coupons, etc.) and sales dates. Sometimes sale dates vary from store to store so if you plan at shopping at more than one location, find out if they are on the same sale schedule.
- Meal Plan. If you don’t already have a nice stockpile, plan your recipes around the weekly sale items and stockpile the lowest priced items. In a meal plan rut? Browse sites like $5 Dinners, Simply Recipes, Organizing Junkie’s Meal Plan Monday for links to tons of ideas from fellow bloggers for great meal ideas. Also many manufacturer’s have recipe sites. For example, want to plan a meal around a can of Campbell Soup Beef Gravy? Check out Campbells.com and do an advanced search by item and you will find recipes for items you already have on hand. Many products have recipe finders like this. Utilize them.
- Scour the weekly ads and find blogs/websites that already do the hard work of matching up the coupons for you. Why reinvent the wheel? Just do a google blog search of “X Store Deals” and a nice list of blogs which cover these stores should pop up.
- After you have finished making your list, stick to it. Stockpile those items which are rock bottom prices. You may want to buy/obtain at least 3-4 newspapers a week until you build your stockpile.
- Don’t use a coupon just because it is about to expire (unless it is a free item coupon!). No worries, usually when one coupon expires, another one is released.
- Sign up for Upromise (free), link your grocery & drug store reward cards, and activate all their ECoupons. You will earn a small percent back for certain items and their ECoupons can be stacked with other coupons. Personally, I just activate these each month and if I happen to buy something, then it is just a surprise as it is sometimes hard to keep track of all the extras out there.
- CVS – Oh goodness, this is my favorite place to shop. I had over 90% savings last year by rolling my Extra Bucks. What does that mean? I use Extra Bucks to pay for purchases which generate more Extra Bucks. Check out my CVS 101 on how to maximize your Extra Bucks each week. Go her to check out the: Current CVS Deals & Scenarios.
- Walgreens – I don’t do WAGS as much because I don’t have one in “town”. You can save lots of money and I currently have over $80 in gift cards to use from my Easy Saver Rebates. You can stack Manufacturer’s Coupons and Walgreens coupons here. They have register rewards, Easy Saver Rebates, Easy Saver Coupons, Weekly coupons!
- Marsh – Most of the time they are higher priced than other stores but you can find freebies and rock bottom sales if you watch it closely.
- Meijer – My favorite grocery store to shop at. I love their sales, catalina deals, coupon policy, cleanliness of the stores, helpful staff, clear aisles, etc.
- Kroger – You can find great savings at Kroger too. I just don’t get there as much as I used to because of time constraints. I’m thinking about starting making an effort to get a trip in because of all the potential ECoupon savings – Shortcuts.com, P&G ESavers, CellFire, and Upromise ECoupons.
- Walmart – Walmart does not double coupons but they do price match, which can be useful. I cover any Walmart deals I find but you can find an extensive Walmart coupon match up at DealSeekingMom.
- Kmart – Super Double Coupons. End of Story. Can’t Wait until the next round.
My Shopping Routine: (At least how I want it to be. Sometimes I’m rushing and clipping and just throwing all my coupons into my binder.)
- Use my “printer friendly” version of my deal page.
- Look through the pages and mark out the items I know I don’t want/need.
- Search for the coupons by insert and then clip the coupons of the items I’m interested in.
- Write the # of items I want of each item by the item, check off the coupon to use as I find them so I know they are clipped.
- I then organize my coupons by aisle. I paper clip the multiple coupons together and then put the list and the coupons in an envelope.
- As I am shopping, I gather the items I want to purchase. As I am doing this, I find my coupons and place them in a separate envelope so I will be ready for checkout.
- I do a quick double check of my coupons as I’m standing in line just to make sure I didn’t miss any coupons.
Here’s the coupon wallet I use while shopping. I leave my purse in the car and put cash or my credit/debit card, loyalty cards, gift cards in the outside pocket. I have extra coupons in different sections in my coupon wallet in case I find something that isn’t on my list that I need, unadvertised sale, or clearance.
You may find a different method works better for you and that is fine. Do what you feel comfortable with to help YOU maximize your grocery savings!
Please contact me with any questions as I LOVE to hear your questions and help you save money in any way possible. Your question may even be featured in a “Reader Question” segment.