Grocery Shopping On a Budget
Grocery shopping is one of the first places you can learn how to be frugal. I am amazed when I go to the grocery store how many times people are spending so much more money than myself and getting half the amount of stuff I have within my cart. Here are just a few ways you can learn to cut back on your grocery bill. Cut and Organize Your Coupons: There are many people who take the time to cut their coupons, but there are few who have them organized in such a way that they get used. Here are a few suggestions for learning how to be an effective coupon-cutter. First, if you do not possess an organizer for your coupons I would make a run to your local dollar store and purchase one of these along with a small set of scissors that you can carry with you for any surprise coupons you might run across while you are out.
Once you have your organizer you can began clipping your coupons and putting them within their appropriate section. I found that by splitting my coupons into sections though I would end up with lots of expired coupons and it also created another chore for me which was to clean my organizer out. If you find this system works for you, by all means, continue with it. If you are like me, however, and you don’t have time for extra chores like organizing then I would suggest my organizational method. What I do is cut all of my coupons and group them into one pile and organize them by date so that I know that the coupons on top are the ones that need to be used the soonest.
It does make it more difficult to find one particular coupon because it is not in a category, but you also end up using more of your coupons because you are more aware of their time frame. After you have cut all the coupons out of your local newspaper you can begin going to online coupon sources for more coupons. There are a couple of great sites that you can go to for extra coupon savings. The two sites that I frequent the most often are www.coolsavings.com, www.smartsource.com, and www.valupage.com.
All of these sites also offer additional savings if you complete surveys about certain food products and this allows you to often double or triple your savings. Another great place to look for coupons is on the actual web site for the items you use the most. This is especially handy if you are buying diapers, baby food or formula. If you sign up with many of these companies they will in turn send you lots of coupons and magazines through the mail. Don’t limit yourself to just baby items though because many of the foods you buy have coupons you can print for free on their web sites. Once you have all the coupons printed and cut out you can proceed onto the next step. Flier Research: Yes, this doesn’t sound like a very exciting task, but once you get the hang of it you might start feeling the excitement I do when I run across the grocery fliers. In order for you to do truly accurate flier research it is good to do cost comparison charts on groceries that you frequently purchase. Items that you could list on your chart might be milk, bread, flour, sugar, or pasta. When you go to a store all you need to do is whip out your Cost Comparison cheat sheet and write down the store you are at, what item you are comparing, the amount that is within the item (ounce, pounds, gallons, etc.
), and the current price. Then take this sheet to other stores you go to especially the wholesale clubs you frequent and start keeping track of the price for each place. Once you have this in front of you, you will know the cheapest place pound for pound where you should purchase your item. This also gives you a good background to find out if something really is on “sale” within your grocery fliers. Go through all of your fliers and mark the items that you find to be a particularly outstanding buy. With this information you can do one of three things. One would be to go to each of these individual stores just to pick up what you feel is an extremely good deal. This would take a lot of gas and a lot of effort. As a mother whose time is limited this might not be the best option. Two would be to find a store that matches prices on certain items.
All you would need to do would be to bring your flier into the store and ask them to meet the price on the items you are purchasing. One national chain I know who does this would be your local Walmart. Third would be to simply pick the store with the absolute best deals and make that your shopping destination. The third option is what I usually end up doing because for me it is the simplest although I have been known to run cross-country if someone is running a particularly good deal on diapers, for example. Some of the really great grocery stores do not advertise in fliers so I would suggest that you do a little research in these places. The Dollar Store is a great place to find many of your household cleaners, paper products, and spices at a fraction of the cost. Be wary around the canned goods though because a dollar for some canned goods is still not a better deal then the supermarket. Another factor that can affect your choice in grocery stores is the double/triple coupon factor. You can save so much money if you go to stores that offer this.