It is not uncommon in the grocery isle to find someone with a notebook full of coupons. Men, women and grannies are all trying to save a few dollars. The rampant craze of extreme couponing has taken to new heights and everyone wants to get in the game. Beware bargain shoppers, the supermarkets are four steps ahead of you. The blinkies in the aisles, the double coupons, the buy one get one deals and course the infamous ten for ten dollars are all designed to suck you in. The grocery retailers are counting on you and your impulses. They are also counting on your inability to see through the muck. You also fail to realize you have been had until you get to the register and realized you have spent too much. Allow me to help you circumnavigate the grocery store maze.
When you head to the store, make sure you bring along a pocket calculator and a shopping list. Your smart phone has the ability to be your best friend, but you must make it work for you. Instead of buying the biggest package on the shelf that is on sale, look at the medium size, divide the cost per unit and here is where you apply the coupon. It is just like shopping at a wholesale club, bigger does not equal better, especially if it will go to waste before it is all used in a household of two.
Hot food bars and salad bars are very tempting especially if you are buying for a household of two. However, the snafu comes in these items are sold per pound. You can buy boxed mac & cheese then and add cottage & cheddar cheeses to make it taste gourmet. An item on a hot bar that requires eight or more ingredients to make like chicken parmesan is a good buy whereas buying ham from a hot bar is not. Equally a bad idea is buying packaged deli meat. It is far more cost efficient to buy a small turkey breast, cook it and slice the meat off for your sandwiches and salad for the week. The same can be done with ham and chicken. One meat, several meals is really the way to save money.
Another item that people are usually wasting money on is bottled water. Invest in a water filter. You are paying your local government to pipe relatively clean water into your living space, it is drinkable as is, and you just need to get an inexpensive filter from Wal-Mart and you can refill your own water container. If you put it on your sink, it will also filter through to the fridge for your icemaker. You can almost calculate your savings.
Finally, my favorite is the three for five and ten for ten sales. These sale items can be tricky. Ten apples for $10 sounds great until you realize you are paying a dollar for each apple. Just buy a bag for $3 and be done with it. Add the apples to salads, desserts and other meals to ensure they do not turn or go bad. You can find a really good deal is the bags of frozen vegetables at $1 each. Spending ten or twenty dollars for frozen veggies can stock you up for a month.
I have found that the best ways to really save is to have a coupon on the items that you are buying one and getting one free. This is doubly valuable it you have double coupons. It also works well to have a game plan and review the weekly circulars to match your coupons with the best deals. Look for coupons that save you $1.50 when you buy two and if it a buy one get one, you have just racked up. Shop smart and make these sales work for you.
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Next June will mark my 22nd wedding anniversary. Hubby and I are planning a really cool vacation and I plan to fully enjoy myself without cumbersome worries of how are we going to eat when we get back from this lovely little trip. I have begun to save large chunks which mean there is little room left for play money. I thereby had to put myself on a cash diet. I can only use my credit card or debit card for emergencies. This past week I have truly learned the value of a dollar. I have also learned that there are something’s that I will not buy, not even for a dollar!
As I previously stated in one of my early post, I have begun to coupon. I am now a step below extreme couponing and hovering around extreme value shopping. I have become, what I consider, to be very clever. I am recycling everything from pieces of left over roast, which are transformed into taco night, or in this weather, a hearty stew. The stews are great to also use up the leftover peas and carrots in the fridge. I am even stocking up the pantry and deep freezer. Let me tell you how.
As I was leaving the house to start my bargain shopping, I noticed the planters on the front porch needed fall plants. Normally, by this time, I would have added some Mums, but I wanted to stretch what I have until it is time to put in the Icicle Pansies. I head over to my friendly neighborhood Lowes. Instead of shopping in the front, I head to the rear of the garden center to THAT rack. Yes, the rack of shelves with sad, lonely, and deserted plants. I have found the ones on the ends are the healthiest and easy to revive. I picked up two hanging Tahitian Bridal Veils for $1 each. They need to be repotted so next I head to Roses. Instead of purchasing the name brand bags of potting soil for five bucks, I opt for the local no name bags for $1. Hey, it’s dirt. I am going to add some plant food when I repot them anyway. Now it’s time to get really busy.
I am headed to the buy one get one sale at Food Lion. I have already added the sale coupons to my MVP card buy downloading the digital coupons to my frequent shopper cards. The hard copy of manufacturer coupons in hand, I have a $1 off of two boxes of Cheerios, which just happen to be on sale for buy one get one. Armed with my sale ad in hand, I pick up bags of chicken breast, shrimp, Doritos, and a large 39 oz container of coffee. I save $1 on the coffee, which I purchased for $7.99. I am on a roll. I purchased high end ice cream at buy one get one along with high end butter crackers. Zesta Whole Wheat Crackers at buy one get one box is great deal; grabbed two of those.
I load up the mama mobile and make my way to Kroger. They are having a ten for $10 sale. Here, you have to be very careful. Last week, the same store brand vegetables I got for $.88 per bag are now in the 10 for ten sale; this is not good friends. I did pick and choose which items were a good deal for a buck, but Lipton Rice mixes are a dollar anyway, so this is not really a good buy. Staples purchased, I now have my local independent grocer’s ad, or the local IGA. These stores are great for pantry items. There is a five for $5 sale going on so I stock up on two pounds bags of rice, hot sauce, ketchup can goods and dry beans. I also grab a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $6. I do have a freezer safe bags in the trunk for my cold items. These wonderful bags keep food cold for 3 hours.
My last stop is to the local Bakery outlet. Tuesday and Friday’s at the John Derst bakery outlet has bread on sale for $.79. Wheat bread, cinnamon raisin bread, Kaiser Hamburger buns and hot dog rolls are all for $.79; with no buying limits. I have found that you can freeze bread for up to 3 months and when you defrost, it is good as new.
My pantry is stocked. My fridge and freezer is full and my bank account is not empty. I have a full tank of gas, my hair is done, and I have a few bucks left in my working account for just in cases. I did all of this today, including my hair, for a mere $160.00. It’s okay, you can say, “ooohhhh!” I know I did.
I must close out now because my new issue of All You arrived in the mail. The cover says there are $94.55 worth of coupons inside. I have work to do.
I am addicted. I am not shame and I will shout from the rafters that I am hooked. I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and once I saw how much money they were saving, I said, “I can do that!” I started clipping and I also started saving money. I am far from extreme, but I am, unequivocally a coupon clipper.
Ironically, I can remember a time when whipping out a coupon was considered low class and made the bearer appear to be a cheapskate. People who clipped coupons were rumored to live in a house full of cats, made quilts and homemade jams. In essence, they were regarded as a step above being a hippie. Not anymore, welcome to the new breed of savvy shoppers and coupon clippers. Let me help you get started. It is easier than you think.
First we must determine what kind of shopper you are. If you are not organized enough to have to deal with a little purse of coupons, or have hours to spend price comparing in the grocery store, then we can start here. The easiest way to save is with your frequent shopper cards and make them work for you versus just having them dangling on your key chain. Kroger and Bi-Lo offers you Fuel Perks. The money you spend in the store earns you a few cents off your gas purchase at each visit. You can also download coupons to your rewards card and when you check out, they automatically take the savings off your final purchase! BiLo even offers you double coupons so you can save twice the money. I know right! No clipping, no coupons and you don’t have to seem like a crazy cat lady who makes quilts and jam.
Saving at the grocery store isn’t your only option. Crafters have long been saving at Michael’s, Joann’s and Hobby Lobby. The great thing about craft stores, if you have a coupon from another store, they will honor the discount. We can take it one further. If you are a teacher, you can also get teacher discounts at Joann’s and save an addition 15%. These programs are also available at Staples and Office Max. No matter what you are into, if you look, there is a coupon, a Groupon, and Living Social break. If you have a smart phone, you can download coupon apps and have discounts and bargains at your fingertips.
Now, I can understand if all of this couponing is far too much of a commitment, then here is the perfect solution, just price compare. Use that smartphone to help you make some smart decisions. There are several bar code scanners that will scan the price, and give you the best deals in a 50 mile radius, including online.
There are all types of coupons to help you save money when you want to dine in or dine out. Find out if your favorite location has a frequent shopper program or a loyalty program. I am one who believes in getting my money’s worth and each day I am out looking for ways to save money, cut lost and reduce my back end, literally and figuratively. You can find the savings approach that works best for you or you can search on Twitter and search under coupons. You can get real time updates on savings.
I have looked into Coupon Suzy and a few other sites, but those are more regional. The economy isn’t going to turn around on its own and in the meantime and in between time, I am working on some Christmas quilts for my great nieces and some jam from some pears my friend send over from her tree. Happy savings!