Secrets To Grocery Shopping Savings

From 24/7 MOMS Live Web Cast 6-30-09

Why Saving Money at the Grocery Store Is Important:
Many of us grew up watching grandmothers, aunts and moms clipping coupons and shopping the sales. We can also remember being little girls clipping out coupons for free or nearly free stuff along with signing up for every freebie birthday or other offers out there and taking them to the store to redeem.

Now we’re the moms, raising kids who like to consume. Finding ways to save money on our family grocery bill is now our task. It’s an opportunity to mentor our own children in money saving methods, and for some of us, improve upon this if it was not taught to us.

Couponers will agree, it takes time to assemble your weekly list (matched with coupons and what you plan to buy where) but the benefits of knowing how much money you can save is worth the effort when you realize more “breathing room” in your budget every month. Any new process or hobby takes learning; make it a goal, one step at a time to save a little every week. You’ll soon see the fun and benefit (and become more efficient) in couponing.

If your not a couponer or sale-shopper you might be asking so where do I begin? Our June 30th 24/7 MOMS webcast shared how to become a savvy grocery shopper and we heard from our viewers with their ideas. Following this introduction are some of what our viewers shared about where they find great grocery store savings.

3 SIMPLE steps to Grocery Store Savings
Step #1 Getting Organized

There are several methods/systems we have discovered that MOMS use to organize there couponing and grocery shopping savings

Grocery Savings Price Book- Starting a price book takes a little organization and time. Once it is together though, you can save a ton. It takes about 10 minutes every week to go through the ads and note the prices in your book of the items you buy most. It will take you a couple months to start seeing the trends and know when you are truly getting the BEST price.

So you have one price book sheet per item, YES per item! Then you list the store, and the price on each line you will start to see a trend.

For instance, boneless skinless chicken goes on sale every three weeks at Albertsons for $1.89/pound. But every six weeks it goes on sale for $1.69/pound. So that is when I stock up!

More description and an example of price book pages (download & print):
http://www.stretcher.com/stories/09/09apr06j.cfm

Coupon Filing –Accordion File or Canceled Check files –
There are several types of accordion files you can use; ones that are designed for coupons and ones you can create to use for organizing your coupons.

There are many companies that are now selling these specifically for couponing (there are even some that will attach to your grocery cart while shopping). Using a smaller one allows you to also toss it n your purse to take with you shopping. Once you’re more accustomed to shopping with coupons, you may find it necessary to move into a larger coupon file.

Organizing your coupons in an accordion file can be done by name brand or product type. Couponers may also choose to file coupons in common grouped categories (cereal/snacks, beverages, condiments, etc). File them the way YOU THINK so that you can locate them.

If you choose the accordion or check-files method, be sure to purchase a sturdy one and one that has tabs you can easily see and label your categories.

Envelope System– This system works well for the NOT so serious couponer who is not collecting a large amount of coupons as well as the beginner who is just staring to coupon.

Use any size envelope you choose
Label each envelope by either product type/category or name brands
Ideas to hold your envelopes: a zippered pencil case, Shoe box, recipe file box.

When I (Tanya – co-host) use the envelope system at home I also use it for budgeting. Many of us don’t realize how much we spend on food. Every month we would set aside let say $200 for food. We would put that $200 in an envelope and WATCH us spend it. It goes quickly! But once you pay attention to what you are spending you will eventually stop using this system but it will help you realize how much you are truly spending.

Binder System– This system is usually chosen by serious couponer – it allows the ability to store and organize large amounts of coupons.

The best choice is a full size 3 ringed zippered closing one often called a trapper keeper. Finding one with inside pockets is even better. This allows you to keep your coupons and supplies in side without them falling out. This will become your complete coupon center to be used while clipping, creating your shopping list and you can even take it along while shopping.

Tools to place in your binder to assist you are:

Zippered pencil holder that goes inside a 3 ring binder
Small scissors
Coupon clipper
Pens/Pencils
Small pad of paper
Calculator
Pocket calendar
Price book if you have created one
Baseball Card protectors or photo protector sheets 9 various sizes)
3 hole punched pockets to old coupons to be sorted later or sale ads.
Folders with 3-ring hold (for ads, notes, etc.
Tabbed dividers for 3-ring binders- you can also order these pre-done from www.smartspeningresources.com

Organize your coupons by categories or manufactures names.

Place your weekly sale ads in the side pockets for quick reference when out shopping

Place your store preferred shopping cards in one of the sheet protectors for quick access at checkout

Make a section to hold larger coupons and coupons for the shopping mall and dinning out (or use a separate accordion file for these, kept in your car and ready to go when you are!).

Places to purchase ready made coupon binders – Mrs A’s http://mrsascouponorganizer.com/products.php

Making Your Own Coupon Binder – Second-hand stores, school supply sales and office supply/discount stores sell a wide variety of 3-ring notebooks. Some are super-efficient with attached accordion file folders attached for store ads. Baseball-Card style pages can be purchased at Kmart, Office Supply Stores (buy with their discounts/frequent shopper programs), second-hand/thrift stores and yard sales. Separate the categories with tabbed notebook dividers. Add the necessary tools from the list above, and you’re ready. Using a label machine or thin-line permanent marker makes reading your file tabs clear and easy.

Storing Your Coupons, Box-Style – Another great coupon organizing system is using boxes you can choose from recipe file boxes, index file box, plastic ones with lids to recycling a show box into a coupon organizer.

Use dividers to organize and separate your coupons into categories that you choose.

You can us this system at home and on the go. If you want to leave the box at home then choose your coupons for your shopping trip and place in an envelope (recycle one and write your shopping list on the outside) Keeping a coupon file box at home gives you a place to keep the unused coupons until you have time to file them again.

You can even have section for soon to expire coupons as in USE these ASAP

Couponizer – The Couponizer® is an organizing and shopping system for coupons and other discounts.

Benefits of the Couponizer:
* Enables spending less money at grocery store and other places
* Reduce paper clutter associated with coupons
* Save time clipping and sorting coupons by category
* A fun activity for the whole family
* Teaches kids the value of money
* Provides a way to track spending to help stay on budget
* Compact enough to store in car and carry in purse or diaper bag
* Never miss another opportunity to save money and enjoy the brands you love!

Product Component Details:
Customer Loyalty Sleeves- Place your customer loyalty cards, punch cards and gift cards here. Located inside The Couponizer booklet, these card sleeves enable easy access to your rewards for being a loyal customer!
Shopping List

Stick to your plan and stay efficient while shopping! Our shopping list helps to keep you on track while shopping and has an item-by-item listing with check marks so you remember your coupon for each item.

CoupTracker – Track your savings with this handy list pad. Adding up your savings over time will motivate you to keep saving!
Scissors

A pair of scissors to carry with you for clipping coupons anytime, anywhere!

CoupStacker – Clip & Organize in one step! This “Patent Pending” feature of the system makes organizing coupons fast and easy. Just clip a coupon and lay it down on the category it belongs. Then after clipping, the coupons are easily transferred to the pockets in the Couponizer booklet. The categories on the CoupStacker correspond in exact order and color with the Couponizer category pockets.

Carrying Bag – Put the coupons in The Couponizer booklet over the weekend and store it in this carrying bag in your car. You’ll never be without your coupons again!

Where to buy –
on sale 9.99 at http://www.vermontcountrystore.com
on sale 14.99 at http://www.christianbook.com
purchase at http://www.couponizer.com/

Step #2 Finding -Grocery Sales and Deals

Loss leaders – are the products usually found on the front page of grocery sale ads that are being sold at a loss to the store to get you to come in and shop. Take advantage of these by stocking up and freezing them if needed.

Buying ahead and in Bulk – purchase ahead using loss leaders, coupons and buying items in bulk that you know you will use. This allows you to get a better price when it is on sale rather then purchasing in it at full price. This also means buying closeouts/clearance items. Buy what you can afford and use within their shelf/freezer life (or until they come on sale again).

Multi store shopping – to get the best prices each shopping trip may mean shopping at multiple stores to pick up their loss leaders and sale items. Each week, write a list for each grocery store of the sale items and loss leader so that when you’re out grocery shopping or other errands you can quickly stop in and pick up the items on sale. Multi-store shopping does not pay off if you have to travel a distance for each store.

Tip: Whichever coupon filing system you use, it’s a good idea to carry a small inventory of coupons for the items your household uses the most. When unadvertised or clearance sales occur, you’re ready to stock up at a great price.

Finding Coupons: we discussed how to organize them now where do you find them

Online – various web sites have free downloads, you can also purchase coupons on line.

Magazines

In store Coupons – Look for “blinkie machines” on store shelves, Catalina coupons printed at check-out, free sample stands, etc).

Newspapers – Sunday papers (in the newspaper part), coupon inserts, and in newspaper supplement magazines.

Friends Swap – Start a coupon swap at church, playgroups, daycare, etc. Organize an occasional coupons-coffee social, mom’s groups, Craigslist/Freeycle.org.

Dinning out Coupons- Sign-up for your favorite restaurants e-news to receive the latest special and coupons ‘Prior to dining out, do a google search for the location or restaurant you plan to visit. Use Restaurant.com to purchase immediately printable, gift certificates for yourself – or for a gift. Check news papers, mailers etc. for dining coupons. (Be sure to file your dinning coupons in the car so you can access them last minute.

Maximizing Coupon Savings: BOGO – Buy Get one Free (some stores will let you use two coupons, some will only let you use one). Get to know the store guidelines.

Double Coupons-Do stores in your area double the savings value of manufacturer coupons? .

For how much and when? Store coupons- find out if you can use manufacturer coupons with these. Sign up at the store website, find coupons on their website. Join preferred customer programs; look for rebates or cash back offers.

Step #3 Time to Shop – Go Get Those Grocery Savings!
Before You Shop:

Create your lists /preparing for the trip- Shopping lists save you time and money (think fewer impulse buys).

EAT – yes eat before you go shopping so that you are not hungry!

Meal Plan; a day, week or month at a time. Create a menu including Breakfast and lunch. Consider using what you have on hand as a start. Menus4moms.com can help with menu planning tools and free weekly menus. Add to your list items needed for menu items and what basics you need replenished such as catsup, milk eggs etc. so you can buy them on sale not full price when you run out

Match what’s on sale with what you have in your home pantry or freezer. Keeping an inventory and making a grocery list visible for other family members to add what you’ve run out of saves on emergency trips later. Add on your list items needed for menu items and what basics you need replenished such as catsup, milk eggs etc. so you can buy them on sale not full price when you run out. Ask family members of their needs and wants.

Utilize money-saving websites and/or blogs which make matching coupons to sales easier and less time-consuming. Check their blogs and/or subscribe to their weekly updates. Each has stores that they follow, forums of updates from readers and links to freebies. Some of our favorites:
MyGroceryDeals.com
AFullCup.com
SurvivingtheStores.com
MoneySavingMom.com
HotCouponWorld.com

EAT – yes eat before you go shopping so that you are not hungry!

Schedule TIME – Choose a day and time to go. Consider trading childcare with a friend or neighbor, to be more efficient and less likely to shop “off-list”. Early in the morning is better for finding marked-down items.

Get your coupons ready to go depending on which system you use will depend on how you do this. Write down stores you need to stop in to grab those loss leaders

At the Grocery Store – Most deals and sale items are on bottom or top shelves…most expensive items are usually at eye level. Keep your eyes open for the unadvertised deals. If you don’t have coupons for those deals, make a list if you plan to return with coupons.

Be sure to pay attention when checking out so that you are not over charged for items that are supposed to be on sale Know your prices (and your coupons) at check out (watch for errors and politely persist to get a correction)

Ask for rain checks if they are out of sale items you wanted.

Healthy side note: did you know the healthiest foods are on the perimeter of the store? Think about it the meat, veggies and dairy are normally on the perimeter of the store, with the exception of the bakery

Websites & Blogs For Grocery Deal Information and Tools (suggested from viewers of the chat last night. Check their blogs and/or subscribe to their weekly updates. Each has stores that they follow (they do the sales & coupon matching for you), forums of updates from readers and links to freebies. If your favorite is not listed here, please let us know and we’ll feature it in the near future):

AFullCup.com
(a great source for printable Target coupons, which you may be able to combine with manufacturer coupons to double your savings).

Shortcuts.com (Load coupons onto your preferred shopper card online, for use at participating grocery stores)

Kingdomfirstmom.com
Frugalcouponliving.com
Pinchingyourpennies.com
Mygrocerydeals.com
Mightybargainhunter.com
Thriftyfloridamom.net
Frugallivingnw.com
Niftythriftyhomemaker.blogspot.com
Restaurant.com
Vocalpoint.com
BeingFrugal.net
Moneysavingmaddness.com

And, The website of your local stores.

Easy Actions You Can Take to Find Coupons:
Call, write or e-mail manufactures with a question, compliment or valid complaint. Making this a part of your weekly routine can net you lots of great coupons and free samples. Sign up for e-newsletters from manufacturers and visit their websites often to find new promotions. Print store coupons from retailer websites. Google “coupon code”, “discount” “printable/print coupon”, etc with the name of the product you wish to purchase (or retailer you’re going to visit) to find unadvertised savings.

Expansion on these ideas and more money-saving ideas will be presented every Thursday, as we present “Thrifty Thursday” links and topics. We’d love to hear what you want to learn to save money on, and how saving money is done in your household.

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2 Responses

  1. As a professional organizer and avid couponer I find the binder system the best for me. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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