Sunday, June 21, 2009

How To Spend Less On Groceries

I was asked recently how to spend less on groceries. She's already couponing and she's using the Grocery Game but she wanted to know how you spend even less without going crazy - in other words, without shopping the sale at every single store, every single week.

I thought I would start at the beginning and answer the question whether you've been couponing a while or haven't even started.

1. Use coupons! Sounds simple but believe for a LONG time I didn't and I regret every second of that - what was I thinking??

2. Pick a method to help you coupon - DON'T reinvent the wheel. There really isn't a reason to sit down with 6 different sales ads and match and find your own coupons. Use The Grocery Game or use The Coupon Mom or read blogs - don't waste your time :)

3. Make a list - know what you need before you go so you don't make impulse buys (most of the time...)

4. STOCKPILE - this is probably THE most important thing. THE thing that has saved me the most money. But you must realize that this takes time. I have come across women who spend just $35 a week on groceries or even $800 a year. Truly I'm not sure how this is possible unless they don't buy milk which costs me at least $15 a week alone. That being said you have to start somewhere - add a few things on sale here and there but as you go you will realize that your list has less needs and more sale items which is the biggest way you will save money over time. As you continue to stockpile you will need less and spend less.

5. Set a budget - It may be your goal to spend $50 a week or less but you can't start there. At the beginning of the year I had hoped for $100 a week but just starting out that wasn't feasible so I adjusted it to $125. Now that I have been stockpiling for months I am able to spend less per week - down to around $100 or less. As the weeks progress I plan to challenge myself even more - to spend even less and use what I have but I can only do this because of my stockpile.

6. Set price points - I now have so much cereal that there's absolutely no reason why I need to spend more then $1.50 a box (generally less). I don't buy toothpaste unless it's $0.50 or less. I don't buy storage bags unless they are under $1.00 - usually around $0.70 or less. At this point I often ignore items that are over $2.00 and instead hone in on items that are less then $1.00 and stock up on those items. This keeps my costs down and my savings up.

For example: tonight I bought Aquafresh toothpaste at HT:

Original price: $3.11 each
On sale: buy 1 get one free
Coupon: $0.75 off one (S 6/21) - doubles to $1.50 - used 2 coupons
Final price for 2: $0.11

Clearly within my toothpaste price point so I buy it whether I need or not and store it until I do. Means next week if toothpaste is on sale buy one get one with no coupon it's not cheap enough for me to buy!

7. Go once a week - this way you will be able to shop the weekly deals. Shopping once a month means you will run out of more food faster, have to run back for things you need that may not be on sale. And even if you go off of a list there will things you need for the month that aren't on sale - items you could've saved money on if you had bought them when they were on sale a previous week.

8. Use CVS or other drug store that gives bucks back - I'm still learning this one but I'm getting better at it every week and do agree I should've started this sooner and stuck with it longer. This allows you to purchase drug items like shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, pain relievers and even food for free or next to it.

Tonight I bought:

I spent: $6.89
And saved: $33.08 (after using my $14 ECB's I earned last week)
And earned: $18 in extra care bucks back!

The SoyJoy bars are actually a money maker:

They are on sale for $1.00
You can earn $4.00 for every 4 you buy (so free)
If you use a coupon from S 5/31 which is a buy one get one free coupon - you spend $1.00 less. I had 4 of these coupons so I spent $4.00 and earned $8.00 in ECBS!!

The Tylenol was free or $0.50

Tylenol extra strength tabs on sale for $3.99
Use coupon from R 4/5 $3.00/2
And earn: $2.00 ECB's back
Total price: $0.49 each

If you use the arthritis coupon from R 5/17 which is $2.00 off 1 then the Tylenol arthritis is free since you earn 2 ECB's back.

As for the rest of my groceries at Harris Teeter.

This is what I bought:

Not pictured: 4 gallons of milk (great sale!)

I spent: $56.36
And saved: $103.60
And earned: $4.00 off my next shopping order thanks to Kraft cheese

Best stock-up deal: Hefty Bags

Regular price: $2.59
Sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
I used various coupons from different places:
R 6/7 $1.00 off Fresh Extend bags
R 3/29 $0.55 off One Zip bags
R 5/17 $1.00 off One Zip bags

Cost for each bag:
Varied between: $0.20 to $0.30/box

I hope the tips help. Please let me know if you have any other savings tips you'd like to add!

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