We’ve all heard the stories about how some woman went to the grocery store and walked out with a cart of groceries that cost only $7.23. And when asked what the trick is, the answer is always the same: coupons.
Although I’ve never gotten my grocery bill down that far, I do save around 60% on my groceries every week. I just went this morning and my $203.65 worth of groceries to feed my family of 6, with the grocery store’s savings card and coupons, only ended up costing $89.72. Not quite single digits, but a respectable savings.
The secret to coupons is not just cutting out coupons, it’s knowing when to use them. The fact is that if you don’t use coupons properly, they may actually cause you to buy products that you really don’t need, and more often than not, not at a very good price. And if you’re only saving 2 or 3 dollar with your coupons, it’s not really worth the time it took to clip them out. So here’s some tips on how to use coupons effectively.
The only time a coupon should be used is in conjunction with a sale. Each week, when the weekly grocery ad comes out, match each sale item with its coupon. For items you buy frequently, keep in mind the price a particular item costs with the sale price and coupon. This is the highest price you should ever pay for that type of item. Items that you use frequently, or have a long shelf life such as canned goods or toiletries, should be bought even if you don’t need it immediately.
Here’s a small list of some typical products and the most you should spend on them with coupons and sales. Keep in mind that these are brand name products, I rarely buy generic:
Toothbrushes/Toothpaste – free to $1.00.
Canned goods – 50 cents
Feminine products – $1.50
Cereal – $1.50
Frozen Vegetables – no more than $1.00 (often less)
Boxed goods (rice, stuffing, pasta etc) – never more than $1.00 (often less)
Bottled water (24 pack) – no more than $3.00 (often less)
Frozen meals (Lean Cuisine, Hungry Man) – no more than $1.50
Shampoo – no more than $2.00
Body soap/wash – free
Scented spray/candles/fresheners – free
Items you might not typically buy at the grocery store, such as sponges, Rubbermaid containers, gloves – free
Finally, it helps to compare grocery chains. There’s a grocery store right around the corner, but my savings there were rarely over 40%. I switched to one that’s two miles further down the road, and that’s where I get my 60% savings. The difference is that this second store offers double coupons. In addition, they always have phenomenal deals like Mix and Match.