By Mary Hunt shopper
If you think saving at the supermarket stops with clipped coupons, think again. From in-store vouchers to special sales, there are plenty of ways to stretch your dollar-that is, if you know where to look and what to do. Read on for 10 helpful tips that will make your next food run a little lighter on the wallet.
Don't assume you have to buy 10 when the store offers 10 for $10, for example. This is a trick to get you to load up your cart.
Do buy the quantity you need and can afford. If the deal is 10 for $10, that's often just another way of saying $1 each.
Don't assume the scanner is always right. Supermarkets adjust prices on thousands of items every day; sometimes prices are programmed incorrectly. According to a study by the Food Marketing Institute, 1.35% of the items scanned turned out to be overcharges.
Do pay attention as every item is scanned. If there's a question or error, stop the clerk to correct it on the spot. Then double-check your receipt before you leave-some stores make an item free if it scans incorrectly.
Don't assume you can use only one coupon per item. Though all stores have their specific rules, many allow both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item. Some stores even allow expired coupons.
Do know the detailed coupon redemption rules of the stores where you shop. Go to the customer service desk, where it will be posted, or ask for a copy. Or try the store's website.
Don't forget to use the instant-use coupons on items you put in your grocery cart as you go through the checkout.
Do make it your job to remember which items have the instant coupons. Pull them off and hand them to the cashier-don't assume she'll see them and pull them off herself.
Don't pay others to do what you can do quickly and easily. Prewashed chopped lettuce, grated cheese and chopped veggies are often double the price per unit of those same items unprepared.
Do buy the blocks of cheese, heads of lettuce and other whole vegetables, and chop or grate them yourself.
Shop the Right Section
Prices on very similar items can vary a great deal from one area of the store to another. Some common mistakes to avoid:
Buying cheese in the deli section. Cheeses found in the deli or gourmet areas of the supermarket can cost twice as much, or more, as similar varieties in the dairy section.
Buying nuts in the produce section. Nuts in the produce and the baking aisles of a typical supermarket carry very different price tags for the same thing, so check both sections and compare prices before you buy.
Buying salsa where you pick up the chips. Salsa is usually more expensive in the snack or deli aisle than in the condiments aisle. Check both before you decide.
Source: Stephanie Nelson, TheCouponMom.com
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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