Recently TLC began airing its new series “Extreme Couponing.”I don’t like to call myself an Extreme Couponer, I prefer the term super couponer. But unlike the people in the show, I have balance in my life. I don’t spend 20-80 hours a week clipping coupons, I only purchase things my family will use, and when I do get freebies, I only get what my family will use within a reasonable time frame.
With the popularity of the show, friends and family are using it as an icebreaker to ask me about it and I’m always hit with “I want to do that, I just don’t have the time.”Ok, I could come up with many legitimate arguments that you do have the time. Some of my friends fail to see the irony in telling me “I don’t have time to clip coupons”and then sending me 500 Farmville requests or posting that they’ve just watched an entire season of Lost on DVD. Anyone has the time to clip coupons; just not everyone chooses to do so. Which is ok.
7 Ways to Trim your Grocery Bill
- Get a shopper’s club card. If you don’t want to give out your personal information, don’t. When you register the card, use a fake address and “Loyal Customer”as your name. Or, when you checkout, ask if they can scan the store card for you. Most stores offer this, but they won’t offer if you don’t ask. They want some people to pay full price, don’t let it be you.
- Try to shop on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesdays. These are the slow days for grocery stores. Why does this matter? Because you’ll find lots of clearance deals on perishables like meat, produce and dairy. It didn’t sell over the previous weekend and they need to move it out before the next weekend and meat can be as much as half-off it’s usual prices.
- Consider buying store brands. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I’m not a huge fan of generic items. With store promotions and coupons I can usually do much better on the name brand items. Test each item before stocking up on it. But if you like the items, they usually are 20-30% less than name brands.
- Look around the store for coupons. I’m not suggesting you clip them and bring them with you, but look around for them. Couponers have terms for themâ€”blinkies, the coupons that spit out of the little blinking machine attached to the shelf; peelies, the sticker-coupons stuck to the product, and tearpads, coupons found on little tearpad tablets near the item. If you’re not terribly brand loyal to an item, look around and choose one with the coupon.
- Shop everywhere but eye-level. Products are strategically placed at eye level because that is what most shoppers go for. Make sure you all around at the commodity you are choosing. The best buy may be above or below your eye-level.
- Have an idea of where each item is going to fit into your meal plan. A dollar a pound is a great price for green peppers. But if you get them home and have nothing to cook them with and they get thrown out, that’s money down the drain. Make sure you are going to use the item.
- Scale back. Ask yourself-every garbage day, do you find yourself tossing out a bit of milk, some lunch meat, a rotten banana or two? Then buy less. Buy six bananas instead of eight. Buy 3/4lb lunchmeat instead of a whole pound, but a half-gallon of milk instead of a whole. It’s not the end of the world if you have to do a quick pop in to the store mid-week for some milk and bananas. If you run out of lunchmeat, use up those leftovers or take PB&J.
Using these simple tips you can save at least 30% off your grocery bill if not more! All it takes is a bit of planning ahead and thinking through your purchases before you head to the checkout aisle.
What are some ways you save on your grocery bill? Do you consider yourself a super couponer?
Lisa Lightner is author of the blog Smart Spending Spot where she shares