Heather writes a family friendly blog http://apassionforsavings.blogspot.com/ dedicated to finding fun and frugal ways to cut costs from your family’s budget. From coupon match ups to scratch cooking to DIY projects, she has a true passion for savings. She lives in Texas with her husband and two children. Come visit her at http://apassionforsavings.blogspot.com/
Have you ever found yourself with more month than money? Or have you ever walked around a grocery store with a number in mind only to be blown away when it comes time to pay? I have. I would walk into a store without a list, without a plan and walk out $200 poorer. By the end of the week, we’d be out of milk, out of bread, out of meat and I would wonder where in the world that $200 disappeared to? It certainly was not in my pantry. When I realized we were spending close to $1000 a month just in grocery and household needs I sat down and realized something needed to change.
It took some time and some patience to get to where I am today. Now my pantry is well stocked, my freezer is full of good meat and veggies, and I have more room in my budget for household needs and for better quality food. All it takes is a bit of planning, a Sunday paper and willingness to compromise.
First things first though, if you want to save money you need to have coupons. The best source (not the only though!) for coupons is in your Sunday paper. Buy one. Find an organization system that works for you and store your coupons somewhere. Now hold onto those coupons, because the next part of the equation is the planning.
Find out when grocery stores and drugstores (drugstores are hidden gems when it comes to health, beauty and household items!) in your area mail out their weekly ads. Or go online and check the store website. Don’t just look at your old standby grocery store; look at all of them in your area. Sometimes the “everyday low price” store is not the cheapest. In fact, sometimes the most expensive store in your area is the place where the really great sales and deep discounts pop up, sometimes these stores even double and triple coupons. They can afford to go very low because all of their other prices are very high. Now that you have the ads, check them to see if there are any special promotions going on. Look at what items are on sale that your family needs/wants and circle them. Check your coupon file and see if you have a coupon for any of the circled items. If you don’t, evaluate if it is a need right now. If it is, than you will need to buy it of course. If not though, wait a few weeks (and hold onto those coupons!). Most items in the grocery store go on sale about every 6-8 weeks; this is where patience comes into play. When you see a rock bottom price, don’t just buy one…buy several. Buy enough to last your family until the next sale. This is where buying multiple papers can come in handy; multiple coupons mean multiple stockpiling items at a deep discount (personally I buy 3 papers…3 coupons for most things are enough for me). Write out a list and pull out your coupons to take to the store with you.
Finally learn your store’s policies. Do they accept internet coupons? If so, how many will they accept for the same product? (most accept 2 without much hassle, 2 internet coupons is what most online retailers will allow you to print per computer) Do they double or triple coupons? How many will they double or triple? Do they have a frequent shopper card? If so, can you register that card online and add coupons to it? Try to learn one store at a time and when you have one store down, add another. You don’t have to shop at multiple stores, but many times you will save more money if you do.
When you can combine a store loyalty program with a big store promotion that includes a brand name item that is on sale and you have a coupon for it? That is how you get a $200 grocery bill for $25. There are a few things to keep in mind when you start couponing. The desire will be strong to not buy it if you don’t have a coupon for it. There are some things that hardly ever go on sale or have coupons, but are necessary for proper nutrition. Don’t compromise your family’s nutrition to save money. For instance, I buy one specific kind of bread. I buy it no matter what. It rarely ever has a coupon and sales are far and few between. My kids eat a lot of bread though, and this bread doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup on it. I won’t compromise my family’s health to save money in this case. It’s not worth it to me. Just because you have a coupon for something, doesn’t mean you need to use it.
I walk into a store now knowing almost to the penny how much I am going to spend. Now there is always more money than month, in fact I joke with my husband about how I have doubled our income simply by buying the Sunday paper. It does take time, but it is an investment that’s worth my time. Every minute I spend planning comes back to me and my family in savings (and then some). I have such a desire to help others learn how to save money and eat healthier that I even started my own blog devoted to the subject. I am passionate about savings, and I hope you will be too.