I know, I know, couponing is so much work and seems like a big time suck. But grocery shopping is super expensive these days. Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com savings expert, tells us, “By shopping with what’s on sale at the store and using coupons, a family of four can save on average $50 a week.” $50 a week sounds pretty good to us, and we know it does to you too, so we have a few tools to help you ease into it so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
1. The weekly ads and store circulars
We always ignore the weekly ads and circulars — we get them in the mail, and they go right into the trash. That is a big mistake. When you get your weekly ads or store circulars, look inside to see what’s on sale. Your local grocery store usually has a specific sale start date, or specific ingredients usually go on sale once a week. This is something you should pay attention to. You should also plan menus around items that are on sale. If the chicken looks cheap this week, then spring for that instead of the pot roast you wanted.
2. Set time aside
Take out a few minutes every week to dedicate solely to couponing. You can make a list of what you want to buy, try to find coupons for those specific items, and it gives you time to get organized. This is well-needed time — don’t just throw all your coupons in a binder and run with it. Strategize!
3. Loyalty programs
Become familiar with the loyalty program at your nearest grocery store. What savings can it get you? Is it savings just on groceries, or on toiletries as well? You can save a few extra bucks this way.
4. Ask for a rain check
Just because the sale item is out of stock doesn’t mean you can’t still get it. You can ask for a rain check. What this means is that when the item you wanted is back in stock, the store will notify you, and you will receive the item at the sale price. Just make sure to read the fine print for expiration dates, and always make sure you’ve listed the quantity you wanted.
5. Organize your coupons
Make sure to keep your coupons as organized as possible. Pavini says, “Organize your coupons in a simple, small coupon file. Once you print the coupons, add them to the file. Keep the file in your car so you don’t forget them when you get to the store. Organize by category, and in each category section, file by expiration date.” This way, when you get to the grocery store, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and what you have coupons for.
6. Use apps, and set up email accounts
You can use apps such as Coupons.com, Grocery iQ and Snap by Groupon to learn about other items that may be on sale. You should also set up an email account that is specific to your groceries, and register the account to your local grocer so you are in the know about deals, coupons and sales.
7. Online shopping
If you buy groceries or any other products online, do a quick Google search to see if there are any coupons out there. You can try RetailMeNot, Coupons.com and Living Social, just to name a few.
8. Don’t buy something just because it has a coupon
When you work this way, you’ll end up wasting money. Don’t buy tuna just because you have a coupon for it if you and your family actually hate it. Use and buy only what you need when you go grocery shopping.