Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grocery Shopping - My Money Saving Tips

It can be almost as easy as pushing a button!

I have finally decided to make a list of money saving tips for grocery shopping! We all know the economy is not great, and many people are spending less and less everywhere you turn. Groceries are no exception! Statistics are showing that more people are using coupons than ever before. Where it was once taboo, now it's the cool thing to do! With it becoming so popular I wanted to share some of my tips in hopes to help you save more AND get the most out of what you buy!

There are several tips and ideas to take in so don't feel overwhelmed! Read it all and then start a plan for yourself on what tips you'd like to incorporate for yourself starting out. It's not all going to happen over night so don't TRY to make it happen over night. Once you get one down comfortably, move on to the next. It can be really easy if you get organized and start planning time each week to gather everything together for your shopping trips. Plus you'll find with a more organized money saving trip, you'll spend less time in the store!

Where to get coupons: 
Sure sales are great, but they are even greater with coupons!!

1.) Buy newspapers for inserts or ask friends for their inserts if they don't use them
~ Sign up online for Ecoupons that can be loaded to your store card (examples: Kroger or Proctor&Gamble eSaver)
2.) Use a mailable coupon service to order the coupons you need if you missed purchasing an insert or need more of a coupon you have. (www.TheCouponMaster.com)
3.) Check Ebay for large quantity coupon auctions/sales.
4.) Check store websites for printable coupons (Example: www.Target.com)
5.) Check your magazines for coupons
6.) Check product websites for printable coupons & sign up for their promotional emails while you're there
7.) "Like" your favorite product company on Facebook 
8.) Organize your coupons in the best way for YOU - Some people prefer clipping coupons and filing in a binder with baseball card sleeves, other people prefer to date and file the inserts in a drawer or accordion file.You can find endless blogs, websites, and YouTube videos on how people organize coupons.
9.) Use this "Coupon Tracker" database to help you find coupons for products that are currently out there from inserts, digital (store card loaders), and online printable sites.This way if you have a need you can quickly search this database to let you know if that item has a current coupon and where to find it!

Here is link to a resource on where to find coupons online: Teri's Coupon Center

Food & Stockpiling:
 Stockpiling is the new "in" but nobody needs 100 boxes of cereal unless you're Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar. Less is more in this case because none of us want to waste food or money, right?! My pet peeve are these insane Extreme Couponers who practically clear the shelves and overload their homes with so much food it looks like they are waiting for the impending apocalypse or something.

1.) Think HEALTHY!!! - Stick to what is on the outside of the store and avoid inside isles when possible for processed food and other unhealthy things! It may seem like an awesome deal to buy 10 boxes of Hamburger Helpers, but consider making your own sauce mix packets with seasonings you have on hand. Do the research, there are so many healthier options for a lot of the unhealthy store bought baddies (get it?! opposite of goodies?! ooook I'm lame lol)
2.) Plan meals each week around what's on sale!
3.) Budget, budget... keep budgeting! Plan to spend only a certain amount each week and try not to go over that amount! You're not saving money if you go in with no budget plan and you spend too much! Over time as you begin to stockpile and have those needed items on hand your out of pocket expenses every week will get a little lower... it's awesome when you get to that point :)
4.) Stockpile only what you KNOW you will use before it expires! That may mean you only need 1, 2 or 3 of a specific item, or you may need 20... it just depends on your household usage!
5.) Keep an inventory list on paper or in Excel so you know what you need more of and the average amount of those items that you use in a 12 week period (more on the 12 week rule in a bit).
6.) Check out www.StillTasty.com for shelf-life information, and the best ways to store food. You would be amazed at the items you can stock up on and freeze with the right preparations!!
7.) Think outside the box, literally! Consider using containers to store foods in so you're not overloaded with boxes wasting space 
                                   Example: Store large quantities of pasta in baggies or plastic containers
8.) Label, Label, LABEL! Especially meats and things that are separated and not in their original container!! Put the name and date when purchased so you have a reference date for expiration....  maybe even stick a "toss by" date on there.
9.) Organize your cabinets, shelves fridge and freezer to where you can do a sort of "rotation" system. This way the things that will expire soonest are in the front.

Regular Household products:

1.) Consider making your own! You can make your own laundry soap (my blog on that coming soon since I need to make more anyway!). Some people use different household oils for facial cleansing and moisturizing. Vinegar and baking soda (do NOT combine them... bad science experiment!) can be used as amazing all-around household cleaners that are cheaper as well as safer and non-toxic for kids and pets.
2.) DONATE!!! (of course also a great tip with food items) Every so often, pick your own time-frame, go through your stockpile and purge items you have way too many of and may not use by the expiration date. I highly recommend a local Women's shelter but that's just me. They take is abused women and many times even their children. It's not cheap providing good every day items for them and they are so so willing to accept your donations!

My BIG Tip On Making the SHOPPING Process Easier:
Anybody can probably find a website that will list sales going on that week with the coupons to use for the item, even I have found websites like that. I even have a page "liked" on Facebook where a local lady teaches classes on how to shop at different stores and randomly chucks out great deals of the week. That's great and sometimes certain deals (like at clothing stores or something) help me, but what follows is an absolutely excellent resource I have used for a few years to help me get the most bang for my buck when grocery shopping. 

So far I have linked a couple of times to features of a favorite website of mine, www.TheGroceryGame.com. I found this site one night while cruising Yahoo! Answers, someone referred me to help me save money on my grocery shopping. At the time you had to pay $1 for a 4 week "trial" period of the site. Now the 4 week trial is FREE!! You're given a list (known as Teri's List) of stores in your area based on your zip code. During the 4 week trial you get all of the stores in your area available to use without charge. WAIT!!!!....

....Stay with me here! I know when you hear "money saving tips" you wonder why on earth I'd send you to a site that costs money? The charge of Teri's List is minimal compared to what you will save in one week of subscription. You pay $10 for the first store you subscribe to (after the trial, of course), and $5 for each additional store. So for example, I subscribe to Walgreens (great for H&B products) and Kroger, so I pay $15 every 8 weeks. Even when I'm not in my A-game and shopping intenseley I still can very very easily save more than $15 in ONE shopping trip, therefore making the savings well worth the cost of the subscription.


Each store has a comprehensive list that compares sales, advertised & unadvertised (<--- you and I can't really do that on our own unless we take the much needed time to cruise through the store and read all the sale stickers), plus what coupons to use for the items. The list tells you the percentage you're saving, shows you what items are best for stockpiling (in blue and with the lowest price), items that are still on sale but not at their lowest price (in white) and even items you can get for FREE (in green)! 

Remember when I said "(more on the 12 week rule in a bit)??" ...."5.) Keep an inventory list on paper or in Excel so you know what you need more of and the average amount of those items that you use in a 12 week period (more on the 12 week rule in a bit)." See?! I did say that! Here is why - Teri's List is all done based on an average 12 week cycle where they track categorical sales trends and determine when is the best time to buy a given item at its rock-bottom price, saving you from doing all the annoying dirty work of comparing your store ad sales with your coupons! So essentially you are stocking for approximately 12 weeks until that item goes on sale again for you to restock.

I really can't think of anything else to say aside from, definitely do your research in all this! How much you save depends on how "involved" you get. You don't have to do it all, but it really does pay to shop smarter and be more organized and prepared when you go out. 

Now get out there and save money!!

~ Lisa

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