Snipping and sorting and still can't get your grocery bill down? To help you celebrate National Coupon Month in style, here are 7 tips to help you save money before you even start clipping.
Shop with a list
If it's not on your list, don't buy it, it's as simple as that. When you shop with a list you always save money.
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to pass up great bargains. For example, what if you don't need laundry detergent this week but there's a great deal on Tide and you have a coupon?
When you make your shopping list have your store's weekly ad in front of you and know your budget. Go ahead and take advantage of that great deal but adjust other items on your list so you don't go over budget.
Go easy on the perishables
It's easy to go overboard in the produce department because everything is so bright and colorful, but you can only eat so many apples in a week no matter how pretty they are. Don't buy more than your family can eat before it spoils. The same goes for fresh meat, dairy and other perishables. It's not a savings if you have to throw it away because it's spoiled.
You'll pay extra for convenience
It's tempting to buy that chopped celery or the pre-cut watermelon and pineapple, but you pay extra for that convenience – always. You also pay extra for most frozen convenience foods. They may be on sale but look at the nutritional value before you buy.
Tame them or leave them at home
Go grocery shopping without the kids just one time and you'll notice an immediate savings. Why? Because your cart isn't loaded down with all the colorful cereals and gummy stuff your kids beg you for when they're with you. Your meals will probably also be much more nutritious – and your kids won't even notice.
Create a weekly menu
Your shopping list will have a direct effect on how much money you save each week. Don't just make a list. First, plan your menus for the week, based on what's on sale and the coupons you have.
Shop your pantry before you shop the store
Take a look inside your refrigerator and freezer and check your pantry and cupboards. How many times have you come home with 5 cans of spaghetti sauce only to discover you already had 5 in the pantry? Plus, knowing what you have on hand helps with menu planning.
Buy necessities in bulk
There are certain items you know you're going to need every week – toilet paper, toothpaste, soap. Buy these items in bulk when they're on sale so you're not forced to pay full price if you run out.
Use cash, not plastic
When you use a credit or debit card to pay for your groceries it's easy to walk away without ever looking at your total. Hit the ATM first and put cash in your wallet. You'll be more conscious of your grocery bill if you have to count out the money to pay for it. As a bonus, if you only have so much cash on hand you won't be able to go over your budget.
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
- Never use a coupon unless your product is on sale
- Why it pays to collect multiple coupons
- Don't buy something just because you have a coupon
- Know your store's coupon policy
- What to do when your store stops doubling coupons
- Can you really save money with a coupon clipping service?
- Coupon etiquette: Mind your manners while you save
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics