If you don’t have time to clip, sort, organize and carry coupons with you when you shop, you can still save money. Here are a few tips:
- Only buy items on sale, preferably “buy one get one free”. That way, you start out saving 50% without making any effort at all! If you don’t have time to research this before you go to the store, pick up a store flyer when you walk in the door. Just look over the flyer and pick out the best deals. Of course, not every item you need will be at this price. That’s why you stockpile … when something is “buy one get one free”, buy enough to last you and your family until it comes back around on sale (6 to 12 weeks).
- Log onto each store’s website and load the electronic coupons onto your store’s loyalty card. That way, you don’t have to bring any coupons with you, you can save the money just by using your store’s loyalty card at the checkout. For Bi-Lo, go to bi-lo.com and click on the “ways to save” tab. Under that directory list, you will see “e-coupons”, click on that and follow the instructions. And do not forget to show your Bi-Lo Bonus Card at checkout! For Publix, they have a new program that does not use a card, just your phone number. Go to publix.com and click on “coupons” in the top menu bar. Then click on the heading that says “Publix Digital Coupons” and follow the instructions. For Target, you can use your cell phone. Text “OFFERS” to “TARGET” (827438) and you will be texted back with a link to the coupons you can use right on your cell phone at the store. Bed Bath and Beyond, Hobby Lobby, and many mall stores also do text links to online coupons that can be saved on your phone and scanned at the checkout without you having to carry any pieces of paper.
- Always check the clearance and markdown areas of the stores while you are there. You’ll find them, they are always tucked out of the way a bit, and might be discontinued items, damaged packaging, close to expiration date, or other flaws, but still useful. Also, towards the end of the day, the same-day fresh items like cooked deli items and breads are always marked down anywhere from 30-50% off.
- Don’t buy things when you need them, buy them when they are at their lowest price, and you will have them when you need them and you will have spent the least amount of money. This takes some discipline, and you might have some awkward moments at first while you are adjusting your stockpile, but this will save you 50% or better on your grocery bill over the long run if you stick to it.
- If you have to have something, and you don’t have any coupons, at a minimum check for the lowest price before you leave to buy it. You can save the sales flyers for each store by the week and spread them out on the table and compare the lowest prices and make your list by store, or you can check online by clicking on the “store flyer” option on each store’s website that you are willing to go to.
- Last resort … no coupons, it’s not on sale anywhere, not listed in any flyer, and you HAVE TO have it today. Pick one of these two options (these are my last resorts!) one, the no-name brand at Dollar Tree or Aldi’s; two, go to Bi-Lo and pay full price because at a minimum you will be accumulating Fuel Perks credit for your purchase so it is not a complete waste of money.
If you have even a minimum of time (2-4 hours per week) and have no desire at all to clip coupons, at the very least, keep track of prices of the items you buy most often with your Price Tracker. If you were at the meeting, you had the copy I handed out that you can make as many copies as you want and use. If you weren’t at the meeting, email me and I’ll email you back a PDF you can print out and use. But it doesn’t have to be fancy anyway. What you do is just put a heading that has the name of the product you use (be careful that you note whether it is brand-specific or not because that will seriously skew your results!), and then have columns for date range, store, item size, price, adjusted price for the size (per ounce, each, etc.), and brand (if important). Keeping track and staying in that habit even just for a few months will get the low price in your head so you will know if you are paying the right amount or not. After practicing this very faithfully for several weeks, I was able to just keep track of it for a few things that I bought most often, because I started to get used to the price cycles. I actually only pick up my Price Tracker sheets once every several weeks now when my stockpiles are getting low and I’m getting ready to do a big buy. Since I’ve been at this a few years already, the price trends are in my head and I can look at a sales flyer and know if it’s a good deal or not. The same will happen to you, pretty soon all of us will be able to knock them dead on The Price Is Right!