If you missed the introduction to this series, you can read it here.
Let me first start out with how you can use coupons, BUT NOT save money.
Get the Sunday paper, cut the coupons for the items you want to buy, make a menu based on what you want to eat that week, head to the nearest store, and buy all the items on your list and the ones you have coupons for regardless of whether they are on sale.
This is what I did when I was first married. I shopped mainly at Wal-mart and was excited if I saved $8-10 off my shopping trip using coupons (which usually totaled $75 –100 a week! This is not how to save 50% off your shopping trip!
Let’s discuss why you won’t save money in the method above:
#1 – You are using the coupon on the item regardless of whether it is on sale or not. The best way to maximize your savings is to use a coupon on an item that is ALREADY discounted 50% or more.
#2 – You are shopping at the nearest store (or even Wal-mart), not the store that has the best sales that week.
#3 – And you are basing your menu on what you want to eat that week instead of what is on sale that week (or from the previous week.) I will discuss menu planning another week.
So how did I change from spending $75-100 a week (buying everything from food, laundry, toiletry items, personal care items) at Wal-mart to spending $40 a week at Kroger/Publix/Aldi for food and other items and $10-15 (in tax and balance after ECBs) a month at CVS getting personal care items?
There are 3 major ways:
#1 – I ONLY buy what is on sale at the lowest price possible each week at the store. (With the exception of maybe 1-2 things that we have to have that week – flour, sugar, milk)
#2 – I switched from shopping at Wal-mart to shopping at grocery stores that will double my coupons AND also put things on deep sales each week. (Wal-mart usually just keeps everything at their everyday low price.)
#3 – I base what we eat on what I buy on sale that week or what I have bought in previous weeks on sale.
Here is an example:
Walmart granola bars - $1.88
Quaker granola bars - $2.50 (at Wal-mart and other grocery stores)
You head to Wal-mart and need to buy granola bars. You have a coupon for $0.50/1 box of Quaker and buy the Quaker bars (since you will be saving money by using that coupon, right?) $2.50 – $0.50 (since Wal-mart does not double) = $2.00. If you had just bought the Wal-mart brand box you would have paid $1.88. Are you saving money?? NO!
BUT, two weeks after the coupon comes out, Publix puts Quaker granola bars on sale for 2/$4.00 ($2.00/box). You buy a box, use your $0.50/1 coupon (which doubles to $1.00!) and pay $1.00 for that box! Now you are saving money!! :)
And you will save even more money if the week that you can buy them for $1.00 a box, you don’t just buy the 1 box that you need for lunches that week. BUT you buy as many boxes as you have coupons for, maybe 4 or 6 boxes that will last you 4-6 weeks and hopefully until the item goes on sale again!
6 store brand boxes at $1.88 at Walmart = $11.28
6 Quaker brand at Publix on sale week = $6.00
That is a savings of 53%!
That is how you save 50% or more on your grocery bill!
Here’s what coming up next:
Next week - Where to get your coupons and how to organize them at home and at the store.
In two weeks – How to find out what is on sale each week and if it is at the lowest price possible.