Keep on Clippin'
More tips for saving in the self-checkout line
As you might remember, a few months back we talked about coupons. And how are you making out with your coupon clipping?
Could you use a few more tips for saving at the supermarket? (Of course you could, who doesn’t want to save more money?)
Know your grocer’s coupon policy. Does your store accept competitors' coupons? Do they limit the number of coupons you can use per transaction, or the number of like coupons you can use? Are you allowed to pair manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons on one item, or do you have to purchase one item per coupon? What are their rules for accepting buy-one-get-one-free or printed coupons? Being familiar with your store’s coupon policy will allow you to make the most of your savings without the expense and embarrassment of breaking the rules.
Stack sales and coupons. This probably sounds familiar (from the coupon article), but it bears repeating. When an item is on sale, and you have a coupon, buy it. This is especially true if you have more than one coupon for an item that’s on sale, say, a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon. This is how you snag those free deals. (Package of napkins: Regular price is $2.99, it’s on sale for $1.99 and you have a $1 off manufacturer’s coupon and a $1 off store coupon. Total price? Free.)
Wait for sales. If it’s not on sale, and you don’t really need it, wait for it to go on sale. This goes for things like cookies and shave gel, not milk, bread and eggs (which rarely go on sale anyway).
Stock up. And when it goes on sale, stock up so you can avoid having to buy it at regular price before until it goes on sale again. Laundry detergent, shampoo, cereal, canned items and paper products are all good things to stockpile because they’re things your family probably uses frequently, and they don’t have short-term expiration dates.
Look at the store flyers that come in your Sunday paper. Or visit your grocer’s website, which will most likely have a link to the weekly circular. Compare local stores’ sales flyers to find out who is offering the best deals this week, without having to leave your living room.
Make a weekly menu plan. Before you make your weekly shopping trip, sit down one day each week and decide what you’ll have for dinner each night. Then make your grocery list up according to what you’ll need for each of those meals. This will save you from unplanned visits to the store during the week, which can add up fast. Another benefit to planning ahead is you’re never wracking your brain at 5:30 p.m., trying to come up with a quick idea for dinner, and you’re not resorting to take-out or fast food in a pinch.
Shop generic. Often the store brand of an item is cheaper than the brand name, even when the brand name item is on sale and there is a coupon for it. Sometimes there is absolutely no difference between a generic product and a brand-name product. Consider buying generic groceries such as pasta, canned soup and vegetables, block cheese, flour and sugar, and cereal. In most cases, your family won’t know the difference, but your wallet surely will.
Don’t shop hungry. If you’ve ever shopped hungry – and who hasn’t? – you know that at some point you’ll look down at your cart and realize it’s half full of items you don’t really need, that weren’t on your list. You’ll be more likely to stick to your grocery budget if you have a meal or a snack before hitting the aisles.
Use a savings or bonus card. Almost all grocery stores offer those little tags that hang from your keychain, and swiping one at the checkout can save you big time. Store sales, special prices and buy-one-get-one-free deals are often only available to bonus cardholders, and if you don’t have one you could wind up paying full price. If you don’t have a savings card, visit your store’s customer service desk and apply for one. They usually don’t need much information – just your name, address and phone number – and can probably set you up with a bonus card on the spot.