Saving at the Grocery Store (Part 3)

A lot of my friends and family ask how I save money at the store. When I tell them, they often tell me that they “don’t have the brain for math” or “I don’t have time to do that”.  I do spend roughly an hour planning my trip and looking for coupons. The math I do at the store is typically limited to figuring out which size package is a better deal. Most larger stores have the information on the tag that shows the price per unit (although that unit isn’t always the same.. one size may show price per ounce, while another shows price per pound).

How can I save money with little time and preparation?

Register your store card online

Almost all stores these days have some sort of loyalty card. Many of these you can receive and use without providing much if any information, but if you do, you can get extra perks.

giant-load-to-cardMy store has “digital coupons” which can be loaded directly to my store card (after registering my account on their website). These are great because when I buy the product, the discount comes right off my total and I don’t need to do anything else. I log on once a week, typically the day before I shop, but sometimes the morning of my trip, and add everything I might use.

 

I can load as many as I want, I don’t have to print anything, and the savings are instant. Sometimes they even offer dollars off a type of purchase (like $2 off $5 of produce) or $5 off my total order.

Sometimes these digital coupons can even be combined with manufacturers coupons for even more savings.

My store also has kiosks inside the store where I can scan my card for offers good for that week. Sometimes I can get $1 off $10 in a specific department or brand. I use these when I can and it only takes a few minutes to see my offers and print anything I can use.  If they offer a meat coupon and I’m not buying meat that week, I just don’t print it. Do NOT buy meat if it was not on the list JUST because you have a coupon. The coupon savings will almost never offset non-sale pricing.

Sign up for SavingStar

savingstarAnother site I love is SavingStar. Once you set up your account, you register your store cards. By doing this, they can see what you’re purchasing and apply savings when you buy certain items.

Most new offers are published the first of the month. Some offers are limited, so log as close to the first of the month as possible to activate savings. They also email me when new offers are published throughout the month. I activate offers for any products I regularly use. I don’t earn a lot, but it adds up over time and I only had to click a few buttons AND I can use manufacturer coupons in addition to these savings.

savingstar-redemptions

Organize

There are a lot of ways to organize coupons. What works best varies from person to person. Here are just a couple of links with suggestions on organizing.

http://forthemommas.com/articles/how-to-organize-coupons

http://thecouponproject.com/how-to-use-coupons-keeping-your-coupons-organized/

I tried the binder idea. My kids already had some binders laying around from their Pokemon Card collecting days, so I emptied on out and spend most of an afternoon figuring out how to put coupons in the little sleeves.  Some coupons fit fine, others didn’t and had to be folded.. I like things alphabetically by category so this was a major frustration for me. I hated the binder. I don’t think the binder ever left the house. It was tedious and frustrating.

So, next I tried envelopes. Lots of envelopes. One of category of product. That worked better, but the envelopes start to wear through and fall apart after several weeks of use.

Next I got the “photo box”. This is just a long rectangular box with a magnetic clasp. I got mine at AC Moore. I added divider cards to separate my categories. This worked well, but if I didn’t have the box at least half filled, then my coupons would slide around and flip upside down and shuffle themselves.

Then for Christmas, my kids got my a nice little canvas organizer. It’s just a little pouch, with divider cards to fit. It’s long enough for most of my coupons (every now and then I have to fold one). So, now I have a really crazy system that works for me.  I have an envelope with my coupons I plan to use on this trip. Any other coupons I’ve clipped go into the pouch organizer. Both organizers go inside my box so everything stays together. Now, if I drop my box, my coupons don’t get all mixed up (worst case it opens and I pick up my envelope and pouch). It works for me.  For awhile, cashiers would ask “Are those your tissues?” because my box has a flower pattern and it’s just close in size to a tissue box. I’d show them what it was an they’d laugh at the mistake.  Now my box is a bit tattered and a lot of the seams are held together with patterned duct tape so no one asks anymore 🙂

Finding an organizational system that works for you is important to being successful with coupons.

I typically spend less than an hour looking through my weekly flyer, making my list and finding coupons I can use for my weekly trip.

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