Good planning is the key to saving money at the grocery store. Sometimes I think I spend more time planning my shopping trip then I spend at the store. Using envelopes for my shopping list is a must. They are great for holding the coupons and a quick glance through the envelope can serve as a double check to see if you picked up all the items on your list. (To save money on envelopes, I recycle junk mail. Credit card are always sending envelopes for your reply. Save one big envelope and stick all your shopping envelopes in there for easy access.)
I use one envelope per store. I start by looking through my favorite grocers ad. Make a list, stuff my coupons in the envelope and go to the next ad. Most of the stores around here have the same items on sale, one place being a few cents cheaper. I compare and shop where I will save the most.
Some stores offer Value page coupons. This can be a huge money saver. You go to Valuepage.com, print the list from your favorite store. Buy items on the list and check like coupons are printed out with your receipt. The coupons are good on any item except alcohol and cigarettes. They are like checks off your next visit. Plus, you can still use your coupon off the item you are buying to qualify for the coupons to print out.
I don't do it all in one day. I plan my shopping around my schedule. On Mondays, I have to go by this store, so I go there. On Wednesday I have to go to the bank so I hit those stores on that day. This saves on gas. I have a huge purse and one pocket is only for coupons. It helps to have the majority of your coupons with you at all times. I can always find a clearance and store sometimes offer unadvertised sales.
Stores like Rite aid offer monthly rebates. Now, you can even rebate online and save the cost of a stamp and envelope. Rite aid is great. Not only do the offer tons of items free a month, they accept coupons. Sometimes I get paid to buy an item. The down side, you have to have the money up front. But in the end it really pays off. I hardly ever buy shampoo, soap or luxury items. They're free!
This may sound like a hassle but I budget $60 a week for groceries, (shopping weekly insures stock up on great prices.) after my coupons my weekly bill is around $50, plus I average a $20 monthly rebate from Rite aid. Together a $760 yearly savings. Not to mention my overflowing cupboards and endless supply of free body wash!
Chantelle is a freelance writer.
My Story is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have information that can help others save time or money please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with "My Story" as the subject.
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