How to Save with Coupons Without Going Crazy!
Extreme couponing can be a fantastic way to save money, but it irks me. I mean 75% of the time you’re getting stuff crazy cheap or free, but do you need all of it? And who doesn’t love the word free? But extreme couponing is a lot of work and it doesn’t take much to get burned out. Plus most of the things you’re going to find with coupons aren’t going to be the healthiest thing ever (such as junk food, pre-packaged food, and other stuff). So I wanted to talk about how you can still save money at the grocery store without spending hours a week clipping, sorting, and planning. Because every bit of savings helps!
Download free money saving apps to your phone
There are a ton of free apps out there like Ibotta, SavingStar, Checkout 51, Shopkick, and more. Check them when you’re making your weekly or monthly grocery list and star or highlight which items are on the app. Then when you get home scan the item and your receipt for extra cash. You can cash out to things like PayPal or in gift cards which make great gifts for Christmas and birthdays! If you’re a Target shopper, then you can use their cartwheel app to help you save while you’re in the store.
Make use of printable coupons
Just because you aren’t buying 3 newspapers per family member each week doesn’t mean you should never use coupons. Check out websites like smartsource.com, redplum.com, and coupons.com for printable coupons that you can use for your weekly shopping trip. We even have many listed on our coupons page. You can print these right out on your computer and take them to the store with you. You don’t need to buy a fancy paper just for the coupons anymore. Most manufacturers have them online for all of us to use!
Stock up when something is a good price
You don’t need to buy 50 bottles of mustard just because you can get it for 25 cents with a coupon. However, if something is on a really good sale and you use it often, you can load up. For example lets say your family eats a lot of oatmeal that’s normally $3 a box but it goes on sale for $1 a box. You normally eat 1 box a week. If you buy 10 boxes at the sale price instead of your normal 3 you’ve purchased 10 weeks worth of oatmeal for the price of three. That’s just smart shopping.
Only stock up on items you can eat completely, because food waste is a very real problem. Also, purchase items that can store for a long period of time or have a long shelf life. Don’t buy 50 pounds of apples just because they are on sale. That would be a waste!
Know your local store, its sales, and policies
Does your store do a monthly or bi-annual 2-day mega sale? Do they sometimes double coupons? Do they have their own store coupons like Target? When you know your store and their sale cycle you can plan to do bigger trips a couple of times a year and save hundreds of dollars on groceries. It will take some practice in the beginning if you’re not a regular coupon user but a couple hours of planning to save hundreds a couple times a year will be totally worth it.
I’ve heard at some stores you can call them and just ask when they do their big promotions. Some stores will give you the inside scoop for just asking. What do they have to hide? People will find out about their sale cycle eventually. You never know what you can find by just asking.
As you’re looking over the store and trying to figure out when they have sales, make sure you brush up on their coupon policies. Nothing upsets cashiers and managers more than people misusing coupons. Even if you’re not misusing it on purpose they still won’t like it. You can find most coupon policies on store websites or coupon education sites like krazycouponlady.com. There’s power in the know! And most policies aren’t more than a page or two.
Find couponing groups
The best way to find out about a deal is through a coupon group. There are tons of groups on Facebook and many are store and location specific. These groups are a great way to learn new things, find out about hidden deals, and ask questions. You can also use these groups to swap coupons. Be careful about engaging in selling, it’s illegal in 90% of situations.
You will need to ask to join many of the groups, but Facebook makes that very easy. You just click the “Join Group” button and wait for a group administrator to approve you. Once approved, you can interact with other members of the group and read the threads.
There can also be opportunities to find local coupon groups just for those places around town. They might be harder to find, but use social media to ask. The power of social media is ever reaching and just one question can be answered in seconds now. Use your network to find other local couponers and then get in touch with them. They could be a powerful money saving asset for you.
Don’t be married to a brand
Did you know that most store brands are actually manufactured by a name brand and packaged with the store branding? Store brands are almost always cheaper than the name brands and are a great money-saving option if you don’t have a coupon. While some might have a different flavor than brand-name products, most are very close. You really can save money switching to the generic, store brand items. I have done this with almost everything I purchase and I save a lot of money each and every week.
You may think “going generic” is not for you, but test it with products you enjoy and purchase on a regular basis. For example, when I shop, I get the store equivalent of Cheerios. The Cheerios box is $3.49 for their large box. The same size box in the store brand is only $2.80. That’s a good savings for the same amount of food and the quality is pretty similar.