By Katie McCaskey, Geezeo.com
How is it that some people seem to get ridiculous savings with coupons - and some of us can barely remember to take our canvas bags to the grocery store, let alone remember to bring coupons? The answer is simple. It takes time to plan a grocery shopping trip. But the time invested can yield big savings!
Here are some tips shared in the free e-book, "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half" from CouponMom.com:
1. Know Your Top 10 Grocery Items.
What do you consume the most? For example, growing up our household always had milk, eggs, and bread on the shopping list. Make a list of the items you regularly consume. If you track just the prices of these specific items you can reap major savings. Make a list of your "top 10″. Then compare the prices, apples-to-apples and week-to-week, in the stores you shop.
2. Does Your Store "Double Coupon"?
Common sense says that the store brand is generally less expensive than the name brand. But, if your store doubles coupons a name brand item can end up costing less than the store brand. The secret is to track your top 10 items so you know first when the price is the lowest and second, if/when a coupon will be doubled.
3. How Is "Buy One, Get One Free" Calculated?
Ask your store manager how the "buy one, get one free" is calculated. Does one item ring up full price and the second item free? Or are both items rung in at half price? If the latter you can legitimately use two coupons for the purchase, thus saving more!
4. Can Coupons Be Electronically Delivered to Your Loyalty Card?
Some stores will automatically add coupons to your loyalty card so there is no need to cut them out of the paper, or remember to bring them with you! You can find out by going to the website of your favorite grocery store. If you use Upromise to save for college or pay off your student loans you can also link coupons electronically to your debit card.
5. Will the Store Email You Coupons or Weekly Circulars?
If you subscribe to several grocery "weeklies" you can quickly see who has the best prices for your Top 10 items. Sometimes stores will email you coupons you can print at home, too. Keep all your coupons in an organized folder.
6. Can You Join Specific Programs Like "Pet Care"?
Some stores will provide coupons for different shopper demographics. For example, new mothers can sometimes get emails for discounts on baby care items. Pet owners can get discounts based on the pets in a household.
7. Does Your Store Accept Competitors Coupons?
If so, it makes it a lot easier to choose which store to patronize. Choose the one with the best deals for you.
8. Are There Additional Loyalty Card Perks?
Will you get a money-off coupon if you spend a certain amount at their store? If so, know the threshold and factor that into your shopping decisions.
9. Can You Use Both "Store Coupons" and "Manufacturer's Coupons" on the Same Item?
Some grocery stores allow you to double up. If so, you can use the coupon issued for the store AND a manufacturer's coupon and double your savings. Buy when an item is already reduced and you've got greater savings.
10. Are There Coupon Limits for the Same Order?
Some stores impose a coupon limit for each visit. No problem. Just send your kid, friend, spouse, or partner through another line with the other items to take advantage of deep discounts. Consider splitting large bounties with the person who helped you buy at a discount.
Is that all? Hardly. There's a reason some coupon clippers are self-described "fanatics". Even casual coupon use can save you some money if you're buying something you regularly use. Meet One of Our Very Own Coupon-a-holics.
By Katie McCaskey, Geezeo.com