Every person out there responsible for buying groceries notices the difference in their bill. $100 store trips have gone up to nearly $200 – and the saddest part is that food costs do not even count as inflation, so we can expect zero government action in order to help level out the market.
In order to keep feeding your family healthy food and avoiding having to go the junk food route, many people are going to extremes, as pointed out by TLC’s hit television series Extreme Couponing.
The premise is simple: Hard-working Americans refuse to spend all their money at the grocery store, so they go to extreme lengths to clip and store coupons, sign up for store-specific discounts, and to ultimately save anywhere from 50% to 90% with each grocery store visit.
A young mother on the show recently ending up paying around $30 for a grocery trip that, without coupons, would have cost over $500; that’s an “extreme” discount and then some!
Maybe clipping that many coupons and purchasing that many food items—a lot of it was soda and frozen pizzas and other unhealthy options that you might want to avoid—is not right for you, but the fact of the matter is that going a little crazy with the coupon clipping can certainly ease the burden on your wallet and allow you to stock your home with healthy choices that won’t break the bank.
Tips on Shopping with Coupons
Diversify Your Methods
A big reason a lot of us aren’t saving 50% or more at the store is because we’re only looking in Sunday’s paper for coupons. Well, you can find coupons in a lot more locations than your favorite paper. For example, you can get a subscription to a few different papers and get the coupons out of them. Most papers cost anywhere from a quarter to a dollar, so it’s a rather small investment to receive the coupons.
There are also various coupons books that you can receive via mail if you sign up for them, and there are dozens of websites out there offering legitimate coupons that you can print out and take with you to the store. Creating an email alert for discounts is a great way to have the coupons come to you instead of running around searching for them.
Learn the Lingo
Not every coupon is a straightforward few pennies off of a particular item. Coupons are complex in this modern age, and you will need to learn about “stackable” coupons (coupons you can use along with the store’s initial sale), double coupon deals (a coupon worth twice its value at the register), and other specialty coupons. Only by going the stackable and double route will the savings really begin to add up.
You’ll also need to learn the acronyms/initialism in order to experience the best savings. Terms like On Your Next Order (OYNO), Mail-in Rebate (MIR) and Buy One Get One (BOGO) will tell you what you can expect – money in the mail, money saved on your next order, or two-for-one items at the store.
Make Room for Food
With a lot of coupons out there, you will only save real money if you purchase a lot of an item. For example: Let’s say you have a double-coupon that’s stackable with a store’s discount but you need to buy 8 boxes of wheat crackers in order to get them all for the price of one. In this instance, you will definitely need to buy all 8, so you will need to make room in the pantry.
The best way to save the most money is to go into the store with plenty of coupons and actually ring up a few hundred dollars at the cash register. The savings will drop off and leave you paying only a fraction of the original price, but you’ll be left with a lot of product to store.
Plan around the Clipping
This is where you have to be diligent. You will need to get to the store to get the items before the store’s sale and/or your coupons expire. This means you will need to stay on top of your game. A great way to stay out in front here is to store your coupons in a book of some sorts—a day-planner, for example—and always make sure that you’re stocked up and ready to go while the store’s sale is still happening.
Make sure you plan around the expiration dates of the coupons and the sales in order to maximize your savings. It may seem odd to go to the store on a Tuesday, but the money you save will be worth it.
Be Gentle and Cordial
Navigating the store and checking out with all those coupons is going to be an hour-long—or possibly more—adventure. It’s going to be tough on the other patrons and the store clerk. Going in the mornings or evenings to avoid a crowd is always in your best interest, and thanking the person at the register and being polite with everyone will ensure that a coupon doesn’t “accidentally” fail to scan.
If you can follow these coupons tips, you should be able to save at least 50% on your next store trip. As you begin to hone you craft, you just might become an extreme couponer, saving upwards of 90% on your groceries.