I am obsessed. With saving money at the grocery store. I started a few months ago after N. went to school and I decided to start shopping myself again after years of using the Peapod delivery thing. I read some websites of those coupon clipping guru's and bought a coupon holder and the first trip I saved $50 on a $250 order. I was hooked. The obsession had begun.
Here are my tips:
1) Clip every coupon you think you would possibly ever use, pull them out of the dispensers at the store, take them from your Mom if she doesn't need them. Even if it is something you can't imagine wanting but if it were free you would take it. Clip Clip Clip.
2) Organize the coupons in one of those cute little folder things that fits in your purse. Cute is important. It makes the whole thing much more fun. Mine is by Mary Englebreit. I got it at Michael's... with a coupon. But I digress... I organize by aisle. Every few weeks I go though and discard expired ones. I also try to take note when one I really should use is about to expire so I don't miss my chance.
3) Read the store circular. I will not go store hopping. Maybe when I am retired and wearing orthopedic shoes I will have time for that, but for now, not so much. I go to Stop and Shop. That is the only circular I look at, with one exception (see tip #4). I use the circular to make my shopping list. I rarely buy anything that isn't on sale, never unless it is something I need that exact week. The longer you shop this way, the easier this gets because you will start to stock up on the things you use when they go on sale. My goal is to only shop the center aisles for sale items. It doesn't work as well for perishables since they are harder to stock up on.
4) Clip any "$5 or $10 off your entire order" coupons from competing stores. Most stores take them from competitors.
5) I make my list on a big sheet of paper, I start it a few days ahead of time so I am not rushing. I list anything at all that is on sale and I have a coupon for. Often those things can be almost free so if you might use it or a friend might use it, buy it. I also list anything in the circular I need and anything with coupons I need. I list my perishables. Lastly I list things that are not on sale, that I don't have coupons for, and that I need right away. I often star these so I can keep my eye out for brands that might be on sale that I wasn't aware of. I also star anything on my list that I am afraid I will miss (because I do that a lot and time is money, is it not?)
6) Take advantage of any store promotions. Stop and Shop had a deal where if you earned a certain number of points you got a coupon for up to 20% off an order. I collected my coupon as soon as I was eligible and set it aside for my big Christmas shopping trip (more on this in a moment). In the meantime I qualified for another 10% the week the program ended and collected that and used it on a regular shopping trip.
7) Stock up on items you know you will use that do not go bad, when they are on sale. I buy four boxes of wheat thins at a time when they go on sale and I have a coupon. I know we will eat them. I store them in the garage. The trick is to remember what you have down there. I think one day I will make an inventory list, but so far I just remember.
So, here is how it works out. Usually I save about $50-$75 off of a $300 order bringing it down to around $225 or $250. Today though, I made Paul dig us out of a blizzard, left the kids home with my mother in law, and made Paul come with me to the store. We used two carts, stocked up big time on needed things like detergent and bottled water, and got almost everything I need for Christmas dinner. I did not get all the perishable stuff but I got everything else.
The total was $605.87. I saved a total of $214.70. I paid $394.56.
For the win!!! It is not always that dramatic, but it adds up. And it makes me really really happy!