Who doesn't like to save money? That's why I am writing this series on “How to Save Money and Shop Smarter”! In the first three posts I've focused on saving money at the grocery store- since grocery expense is such a large part of the family budget. I shared with you my tips on how to create a grocery price list, so that you know the best possible price of each item that you regularly buy. In the second post I talked about using the weekly grocery store sales flier so that you knew when items you want to buy are on sale, and how to create a stockpile of 8-10 weeks of supply of that item- so that you never buy it a full price. The third post took our grocery savings one step further, by combining sales prices with a coupon to get the absolute best rock-bottom price! Today, I am going to show you 4 more tips on how to save money at the grocery store!
Tip #1: Use a Great “Deal Blog” to Help You Find Sales Prices and Coupons
Did you know that there are “deal blogs” out there where the blogger has carefully researched the sales flier of your local grocery store, and has matched up any relevant coupons (both printed and online) with that deal to help you find the absolute best-deal at the store? Well there are many fantastic sites that do this- but my absolute favorite site is Cindy Livesey's “Living Rich with Coupons“! You can subscribe to her site and receive every deal and coupon that she writes about- but that may be as many as 10-20 posts a day- or you can just go to her site and use the menu at the top to locate the current deals for your grocery store.
Here's an example of this week's Shop Rite match-ups from Living Rich with Coupons:
You can see that not only does Cindy tell you what's in the ad, but she provides links to the coupons, and in some cases gives you ideas on how to “work the deal” as she does with Barilla Pasta Sauces this week. And if you look, she mentions that there is a catalina for Barilla this week… which brings me to my next topic:
Tip #2: Take Advantage of “Catalina” Deals
Next to most registers in the grocery stores are little printers called Catalina machines. These machines will print in-store and/or manufacturer’s coupons that are targeted to you based on what you purchased during this shopping trip. Sometimes these machines will also print recipes, or will let you know about a future sale or deal that this store will be offering. But the best thing that this machine prints are the $ off coupons that go along with a “deal” that you have purchased. Here’s an example: last week ShopRite had a “deal” in their sale circular for certain Proctor & Gamble products- that if you purchased $40 worth of these products (shelf price, before coupons are applied) , you would get a $5 coupon for a future order, and a $10 mail-in coupon where P&G would mail you back a $10 prepaid Visa card. So here is the deal that I did:
2 Tide detergents $11.99 each (less $2.00 coupon for each)
5 Bounce Bars at $3.99 each (less one $2.50 coupon, and four $1.50 coupons)
I qualified for the $40 catalina (the total shelf price came to $43.93), but I then took off $12.50 in coupons, making my out of pocket price $31.43)- and I received $15 back to use on future shopping trips (a $5 catalina, and a $10 prepaid Visa card which is on its way to me). That's $16.43 for $43.93 worth of products that my family uses- not a bad deal!
Catalinas are a great way to save money on groceries. But the key is to make sure that you have purchased the exact products called for in the “deal”, and that you met the minimum price threshold (in this case $40). However, I will tell you that there have been many, many times when I have executed a deal correctly, and the darn little machine did not print my catalina! It can be very frustrating, because your only in-store option is to go to the customer service desk and have them manually print the catalina- but this usually involves waiting in line and explaining the deal, finding it in the store circular, and then finding the items on your register receipt, and then finding an open register to print the catalinas. y this time I am usually worn out! So I have found that the best way to fix the problem is to contact the catalina company directly:
Tip #3: Buy Only What's On Your List!
One of the biggest ways we end up spending more money that we intend to at the grocery store- is by not sticking to our lists! Grocery store displays are designed to entice us- to make us want to pick an extra item here or there because it looks delicious or it seems to be a great deal. While it's great to take advantage of deals to add to your stockpile if it truly is a rock-bottom price… don't be swayed into throwing a few extra items into your cart here and there, thinking that they won't add up to much! (And in my house, this is what makes me limit how often I take the kids along- they have a habit of asking for items that are not on my list!)
Tip #4: Go to the Grocery Store Only Once a Week- Or Less!
Here's a fact- the more often you walk into the grocery store- the higher your monthly bill is going to be. So commit to only going to the store once a week- buy everything you need for the week and add to your stockpile items that are at their best price- and then that's it. If you run out- then do without until the next week.
I've even read about true money-saving mavens who limit their grocery shopping to once a month! For me, that feels too unrealistic- but I admire their ability to plan a month in advance! And I know that skipping those three additional trips a month would definitely save me money!
Rather Watch Than Read?
How often do you grocery shop? And do you think you could reduce the number of times you go to the store in a month? Please leave a comment and share!