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Guest Post: Couponning 101’s Heather on Money Saving Grocery Shopping

Posted by Hallee on Jan 19, 2010 in Budgeting, Housekeeping, Stewardship |

I’ve been following my friend Heather and her coupon classes for a while before she started her own blog last month.When I decided on this break, she was one of the first people I considered inviting to post a guest spot here because of her frugal shopping expertise.  I love learning from her and I hope you love it too.  — Hallee



Couponning101's Heather: Guest Blogger

Tips and Tricks for Saving on Your Grocery Bill

Hi, My name is Heather and I’m a super coupon junkie.  I have a really hard time paying full price for anything and beyond that, I’m in it for the rush!  There’s a thrill to stand at the checkout and watch the  total $$ go down as the total savings goes up…  I’m a huge fan of couponning and making every sale work for me, so much that I actually blog about it at http://couponning101.blogspot.com

Being a guest blogger on Hallee’s site is kinda like going to my first AA meeting – I’m sharing my addiction with you… but unlike AA, this addiction can save you tons of money a year on your groceries no matter where you live in the USA

$118.76 worth of groceries I purchased for $11.96

So, what do you need to know about saving money at the grocery stores?

  1. Shop the sales in moderation
    1. buy what you will actually use in a given period of time and what you need.  Don’t get sucked in by the flashy displays and promotions of new products that you won’t use… your pantry, fridge and freezer are part of your castle and why would you pollute your castle
    2. check expiration dates before stocking up
    3. ask yourself if the deal is worth the real estate – see # 5 for more details
    4. Watch the register
      1. Believe it or not, computers are programmed by people and not all sales items get put into the computer all the time and even regular priced items can be mislabeled.  Double check that the price you are paying is the one you expected… and that includes produce and meat
        1. i.      Many stores have a right price guarantee where you can get the item free if its priced wrong, but all should honor the shelf price/sale price
        2. Find out the policies at your stores
          1. Do they require you to buy 2 products for a BOGO deal, or when they have a 10/$10 sale, or will you get the sale price for buying one?
          2. Do they have double or even triple coupon promotions and what is the threshold (under $.50, $.99 or something else?)
          3. Do they have store coupons or online coupons to compliment their sales?
          4. Can you register for email alerts of their weekly specials?
          5. Do they price match or accept competitors store coupons and if so, who do they consider competitors?
          6. Do they accept online printable coupons?
          7. Get to know your cashiers
            1. If you shop at one or two stores regularly, take the time to get to know your cashiers and make sure that you are always friendly!  I have three or four favourites who I always talk to and who share good tips with me on deals and steals because I do the same.  They are also happy to keep me up to date on changes and info coming down the pike… and they know I coupon ~ so they expect me to have a pile of matching coupons and aren’t phased by it.
            2. Know when a deal is not a deal
              1. Is it free or does it make me money?
                1. i.      If it’s free or makes you money, its probably worth it if you don’t need to make a special trip, and you either have space to store it or somewhere to donate it.
  2. Do I need it and will I use it in the appropriate time?
    1. i.      If it’s not free, you are spending both your money and your pantry/fridge/freezer space on something – if you always use it, occasionally use it or have wanted to try it – its worth it.. if you’re not sure, its probably a bad deal… its taking money out of your pocket and its not a deal
  3. Can I get it cheaper at a future point or at a different store?
    1. i.      If its a NEED IT NOW, this question doesn’t pertain, but as you coupon you will learn the cycles that happen with products you buy regularly, stores will have a sale on some sort of cereal almost every week and that means your cereal will probably come up on special every 4-6 weeks- can you wait and stock up at the ‘best’ deal – which is usually a BOGO or at least a 40% off on most groceries
      1. As an illustration of good couponning I will give you an example from a few weeks ago… It was Harris Teeter triples week and I had a Betty Crocker $0.40 coupon which would triple to $1.20 making the $1.19 pouch of instant potatoes free – which would be a good deal… but I knew that at Publix, the same week they had the boxes (2 pouches) of BC instant potatoes and their Scalloped potatoes on BOGO from $1.59 so when you double the coupon to $.80 its also free, but you get more product for that non-expenditure

So how do you know whether you are getting an OK deal, a GOOD deal or a GREAT deal?  It’s all about becoming more aware of your shopping and purchasing habits – and a Price Book is a good way to make yourself more aware… it will also help you find your favorite stores rhythm for their sales…

  1. Related to the last question… am I buying the best value item?  Sometimes you have an open ended coupon that lets you buy any size of one item and many people would automatically look to either the largest or smallest item, but sometimes neither is the best deal.  That’s where your price book and calculator can come in handy…

Read on for How to make a Price Book:

comparing apples to apples…

To really have a sense of what items cost you per store, create yourself a price book per store. This can help you determine trends in sales as well as cost per unit.

A handy way to keep a price book is in Excel if you have it. Take your grocery receipt and start entering! Most stores offer online shopping anymore and you can also use that for pricing the items you buy most. Include the following information on your price sheet:

Date
Store
Item
Brand
Size
Price
Unit Price
(To figure Cost per Unit – Cost of Item divided by number of Units. For Example: $ 1.99/18 (ounces) =11 cents per ounce)

Most stores have a cost/unit price on their shelf price tags but it doesn’t hurt to double check new products with a calculator.

Good Luck and happy shopping!

Heather


I hope you enjoyed this guest post from the beautiful and very awesome Heather. Thanks again for filling in for me. It is really appreciated.

Hallee


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