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Best tips for saving money when grocery shopping

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

Save money on groceries

Groceries make up the single largest expense for many households, aside from utilities, rent or mortgages. Follow these guidelines to save a little extra green during your trip to the supermarket.

Woman Grocery Shopping with Coupons

Coupons

Almost every grocery store advertises in the local papers, with weekly specials and coupons. So many people just throw away the coupons, but you may as well throw away money. Take the time to cut out the coupons and put them in an envelope or small expanding file so they are easily accessible and well organized for quick use. Then put the coupons in the car so that, the next time you run to the grocery store, they are there waiting for you.

Make a list

How many times do you find yourself wandering through the grocery aisles and grabbing items you don't need? Grocery store chains spend millions of dollars every year researching and planning how to lure people into buying certain products. The antidote: A list. Make one ahead of time and stick to it. It will help you resist those end-of-the-aisle displays that are meant to sucker you into buying things you didn't intend to purchase. Check items off the list as you gather them in your cart.

Frequent shopper programs

Almost all the large grocery stores have frequent shopper cards. You can sign up for free, which usually gets you a little card you can attach to your keychain. You'll be amazed at how much money you can save when you purchase items that are discounted with your frequent shopper card. Most registers even tally how much money you've saved and announce the total to you at checkout. Challenge yourself to see how much money you can save from week to week.

Know your stores

The fast-paced world of one-stop shopping also can lead to one-stop ripoff. Some grocery stores have great meats at unbeatable prices while others have an incredible vegetable and fruit section. Be smart about what you purchase and where. Make a schedule so you can pick up what you need at the store offering it for the lowest price. Grabbing the pricey paper towels or expensive bread, even just once a week, adds up. Remember also to look for specials like double-coupon days or bonus discounts.

Most importantly, bring your own reusable bags. This not only helps the environment by cutting back on plastic bag usage and waste, but you can often get five or 10 cents back for each bag you bring in.

Happy shopping and remember: To keep the green in your wallet, take advantage of everything your favorite stores offer.

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