Grocery shopping is one of the first places you can learn how to be frugal. Here are just a few ways you can learn to cut back on your grocery bill.
There are many people who use coupons, but do you have them organized in such a way that they get used? Also, start a Price Book to keep track of what items cost at the different stores you shop.
The most important areas of the grocery store are around the perimeter of the store. Go there first to pick up your high priority items: produce, bread, dairy, meat. Keep track of how much you're spending on those items so you know how much of your grocery budget you have left to spend on other items.
Ever wonder why you have to reach so high for that "not so well known brand" of mustard? Or why the store brand green beans are on the bottom shelf? It's because manufacturers actually pay for product to be placed at eye-level on the shelf. They know shoppers can be in a hurry and will grab the product that is the easiest to reach -- or the one they see first. If you want to find better prices you have to look up or down.
Many grocery stores have tags below each item on the shelf showing the unit pricing cost. For instance if a 15 oz. can of chili is $1.50 the unit pricing tag will show it's $0.10 per ounce. The unit price is a great way to see if you're getting the best deal. Watch these tags carefully: they can show that larger sizes are not always a bargain.
Many products have an expiration date printed on the packaging. Always look for the longest expiration date so you don't end up throwing away half your pantry items before you use them. This is REALLY important if you are buying large quantities of an item while it's on sale. It's not a sale if you end up wasting half your money.
Make shopping list, and stick to it.
Research and learn regular prices and how they compare at competing stores.
Match up your pile of manufacturer and store coupons with current or upcoming supermarket savings club benefits, weekly sales, manufacturer rebates, and in-store rebates.
Combine as many offers as are allowed.
Keep track of items you use frequently (check your price book) and buy extra if the price is right. If prices are too high, wait it out.
Coupons are designed to influence consumers. Let them, but for the better! Purchase items if the price after sale, coupon, and other promotions create significant savings.
Don’t assume that every offer is going to save you money. Evaluate each one on its own merits. Stores can raise prices to make sales seem better, and make coupons less of a bargain.
It is not uncommon for an 89 cent can of tomatoes to show up in a sales circular as 10/$10. Or for the ad to make it appear that you need to purchase 10 to receive the sale price, when in reality you only need to buy one can. It is very common for a sale price to be reduced to the manufacturer’s maximum price provided on a free after rebate offer. Sometimes the reduced price is pushed up higher than the rebate offer, to account for the value of coupons available to consumers. Occasionally retailers play the “bait and switch” game by offering products that do not meet the requirements of specific manufacturer’s coupons, banking (literally) on the consumer to purchase the products anyway. An example is toilet paper, where a coupon specifies the number of rolls per package, or even number of sheets per roll, and the retailer does not carry that specific package.
These are a few of the “tricks of the trade”. Don’t let them scare you off or dissuade you from finding the best ways to use coupons to save you money. You just need to keep them in mind as you shop.
The overall goal is to team up the sales, promotions, coupons, and rebates, to reap the highest possible savings.
Sound overwhelming? It can be at first. You have to give yourself time to learn how to do this well. Your savings at first may not be huge, but over time they will increase if you are diligent.