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I am not paid or compensated in any way to write product reviews posted to this blog. There are affiliate links posted throughout this blog. So, when you click through on links and buy something, I may receive a commission. I pay for the products with my own funds. Product reviews always reflect my own experience with and honest opinion of the product as a consumer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coupon tips to help you save money on groceries

I commented in an earlier blog post on some helpful couponing basics. Here are some additional tips that I suggest to maximize your savings. Couponing is like a game. Once you learn the rules of the game, you can play with strategy and win.

1. Never use a coupon just because you have it. Remember, the main purpose of a coupon is to induce people to buy the advertised product. The best time to use a coupon is when the product reaches the lowest price. Most products go through sales cycles, so that the sale prices are easily monitored and timed. Products go on sale about every 6 -10 weeks.

2. Create a price list of all of the most used products in your household. In this way you will have a firm grasp on what your favorite products retail for, as well as the sale pricing. By creating a price list, you will also become more aware of the sales cycles for your favorite products. You can make a price list in an MS Excel spreadsheet format, in MS Word, or with paper and pen. Stick to whatever method works best for you. The most effective way to make sure you are getting the lowest price is to keep a price list going for each retailer you shop at.

3. Using the price lists on www.couponmom.com or www.thegrocerygame.com are a great way to track sales. This can be used in addition to your own price list. Registration is free at couponmom.com. From what I understand, there is a free trial for thegrocerygame.com, and afterwards there is a fee to use the service. At any rate, both websites track sales on products at popular retailers like Walmart, Target, Publix, CVS, and Walgreens. The price lists are designed to alert visitors to whether there are also coupons available for the products on sale, and how much you are actually saving as a percentage. Basically, the two websites do coupon match-ups for visitors. The neat thing about couponmom.com is that you can select the items that you want on your list and then print your list from the website.

4. There is another alternative, if you don’t want to be bothered with creating a price list or tracking sales on the internet. Pick up and look through the sales circulars of retailers, then plan your trip around the items that are on sale. Winn-Dixie and Publix usually advertise many items for buy one get one free. CVS and Walgreens offer instant rebates on products in addition to good sales. Sometimes Target rewards shoppers with free gift cards for purchasing select products.

5. Organization is key to success with couponing. How many times have you arrived at the checkout, only to realize that you left your coupons at home? How often have you let good coupons expire? With proper organization, these mishaps are avoidable. Plus, you will save yourself some time, headaches, and embarrassment. Organize your coupons in a coupon binder or index card file. Tailor your organized coupon stash according to your own personal tastes. Some people organize their coupons alphabetically, while others organize according the where products are located in the retail store isle. Take some time to sit down and think about what works best for your situation. Get creative.

6. Buy more multiple copies of the Sunday paper and use multiple internet printable coupons from reputable websites. In this way you can stockpile on items that are on sale and use a coupon for each item that you buy. I don’t like repeating at the risk of sounding redundant, but I mention how to get coupons in another blog post. You can read about it

7. Stack your savings. What is stacking savings? Well it is the practice of combining one or more coupons with sales and/ or promos. Many retailers will allow customers to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. One of the best ways to save money is to wait for the product to go on sale and then use both a store coupon and manufacturer coupon with the one item.

Another way to stack savings is to catch a product on sale, use coupons, and take advantage of any manufacturer rebates available. In a hypothetical example, Neutrogena has a rebate running on it’s line of Neutrogena skin care products: Spend $50 and get a check for $25. Incidentally, your favorite retailer has a sale within the same time period. Plus, you found some nice manufacturer coupons for each Neutrogena item you buy. You buy $50 worth of Neutrogena products and you use $10.00 in coupons. You send off for your rebate and get a check in the mail several weeks later for $25. Your net cost is $15. Not bad for an hour or so worth of work. This is just a hypothetical, but the possibilities are limitless.

7. Try and arrive at the store early and on the first day of a sale. If you wait until the last day of a sale, more often then not, the supply of sales items might be depleted. In the event that a store runs out of an item on sale, ask if you can get a rain check on that sale item. Rain checks are the store’s guarantee to sell the item to you at the sale price, even after the sale has ended.

8. Don’t get caught up in buying a product that is not on sale. Preferably, don’t buy a product if you don’t have a coupon for it. Retailers like to play psyche games with customers. They know what they are doing. Retailers print ads with sales, with the intent of getting customers in the door. The retailers are willing to eat revenue “lost” on items that are put on sale. In the same token, the retailers are hoping that customers will purchase other items that aren’t on sale. When customers fall for this tactic, the retailers recoup the lost revenue on the sale priced items. For example, CVS always has excellent sales weekly. I stopped in to buy something on sale, and started observing the pricing on other items which weren’t on sale. I noted that a 32 oz. bottle of Gatorade that normally retails for $1.00- 1.05 at other retailers, was priced at $1.99. Nearly double! CVS is not the only retailer that does this, however.

9. Sign up for rewards cards at retail stores.  Membership cards are free for most rewards cards and it is very easy to sign up.  Retailers are more in tune to your spending habits when you regularly use your rewards card.  The retailer will alert you to special deals available on products that you normal buy.  Also, you will get the benefit of buying products at sale prices when you use the rewards card. 

I hope that these tips help you save some money. When I think of some other tips, I will make another post.

Related Posts:

The Basics of Coupons: What are They and Where do you Find Them?

How to Get Free Coupons in the Mail

I Got a Free Bayer Contour USB Blood Glucose Meter with The CVS ExtraCare Program

Thoughts on TLC's Extreme Couponing Series

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