Sunday, October 10, 2010
Trying to Beat the Store at its Own Game (or If it's Free, It's for ME!)
Since I get a lot of questions about how I manage savings of upwards of 50 percent on my grocery bills, I thought I might try to put together a brief overview of my 'system'.
I work really hard at keeping my grocery bills to a minimum without sacrificing quality or quantity. A lot of the produce we eat comes from the garden and I cook most of our meals from scratch. I can and freeze and bake, but I have yet to figure out how to make toilet paper so off to the store I go. Now I hate shopping. Groceries, clothes, sundries, doesn't matter. The only store I enjoy going to is a craft store, and there are on-line coupons for them! To make buying staples a bit more interesting, I work on reducing my costs as much as possible.
Unfortunately, I have few stores in the area from which to choose. Walgreens is the only national pharmacy chain, plus Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly are about all I have to work with. NO double couponing here. For those of you with CVS, Rite-Aid, Teeter Harris and the like, I'm jealous! The more competition, the better deals there are available.
First I built my stock pile. This is the key to the whole system. Aside from extreme perishables like milk, bread or fresh veggies, I could probably avoid going the grocery for a few months. It's important to not need to buy an item, but to be able to purchase staples when they are on sale or clearance. Then you can add coupons (both manufacturer and retailer) to pay the lowest possible cost. Take the Hydro Razors, Walgreens had them on sale for $9.99. There was a $4 off coupon in the Sunday paper and Walgreens offered $5 in Register Rewards for a net cost of 99 cents. You can't buy disposables for that price. By picking up these kinds of deals as they are available and keeping them on hand, you can avoid paying full price. Don't be afraid to get multiples of items with a long shelf life.
I also get samples and freebies in the mail. It's nice to be able to try a product before you dish out hard earned cash. Sometimes a company sends a sample size product, which can be great for travel, other times a full size product or a coupon for a free product. Target has just gotten into the sample business, as does Wal-Mart and various website like sampleaday.
I get my coupons from the Sunday paper and various on-line printables as well as the manufacturers themselves. You can get a preview of the Sunday coupons at the creatively named Sunday Coupon Preview. I even save coupons for items I don't generally use as sometimes it pays off. For example, last week Piggly Wiggly had Greek yogurt in the reduced bin for 25 cents each. I make most of our yogurt, but I had clipped some 30 cent off one coupons and was able to buy it at a net profit of 5 cents each.
CellFire loads coupons directly to your customer loyalty card, so no clipping! Just choose the coupons you would like to use and they will be applied automatically when you use your card.
There are plenty of blogs and websites, Facebook pages, books and magazine articles full of tips for reducing your grocery bill. Here are few more helpful links (you can send me your favorite too!).
Because Cheaper is Better