Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shopping and Saving Money

Since my extreme couponing days are now over, you might wonder if I have given up coupons and trying to save money all together.  The answer to that question is a big, resounding, "No Way!"  It looks a little bit different but is less work and still saves us a large amount of money.

Here is a summary of what it currently looks like for me:

1.  I read several money saving blogs each day.
I spend about 20 minutes each afternoon checking money saving blogs that direct me to the current deals at the stores I shop at.  If there is a coupon as part of the deal, these blogs direct me to the needed coupon and I print it immediately.  Good coupons often disappear quickly and if I don't print them each day, I will likely miss out.  Here are the blogs that I read each day:
There are many great sites.  These are just the ones I have settled on and the ones that I feel do a good job of covering the deals.

2.  I do not cut coupons that come in the Sunday newspaper.
This was a BIG change for me.  I used to cut and file every single coupon, every single week.  However, the trend that I have observed is that the online coupons are generally higher in value.  That meant that I was cutting a lot of Sunday newspaper coupons and really wasn't redeeming very many of them.  Only printing the Internet coupons that correspond to a deal, saves me A LOT of time and saves me more money.  Once in a while, I miss a deal by not cutting the Sunday coupons, but the time savings far outweighs the occasional missed savings.

3.  Price matching
There are three competing grocery stores in my area.  One of those grocery stores, is willing to price match the advertised prices of the other two stores.  Each week when the ads arrive, I scour the ads for the best deals and then take all three ads with me to the one store that is willing to price match.  As a side note, when looking at grocery store ads, there is a sure fire way to figure out the best deals.  Usually the great deals are on the front page or if they are on a different page, the items are significantly enlarged.

4.  Take advantage of special, limited time sales.
Many grocery stores are notorious for running special sales on particular days of the week.  In my area, these sales are generally sometime between Thursday-Saturday.  I check the ads each week when they come out and intentionally plan my shopping on the special sale days.  These savings are often very deep and are well worth rearranging my shopping day.  

5.  Menu planning
There are many different ways to menu plan, but no plan at all will almost guarantee that you will spend more at the store.  I make our menu based on what I have on hand and the sale items that I have decided to purchase on any given week.  My grocery shopping trips consist of deals for the week and produce...and no impulse buys, as a general rule. Click here for more information on menu planning from Money Saving Mom.  A quick search on this site will give you all kinds ways to menu plan.

6.  Stockpile
When you think about a stockpile, don't think extreme couponing style or preparing for the end of the world.  This simply means, when an item that you use is a great price, or occasionally even free, I stock up on it.  How much do I stock up, you might ask?  As much as I am fairly certain my family will use before the product expires. 

7.  Just do it
It takes a while to determine what makes a great deal.  I have learned that over time, you start to develop a pretty good idea of what makes a great deal.  But you have to be willing to jump in and just get started!