To many, coupon clipping is a way of life. For these people, there is nothing like the thrill of watching that grocery total plummet after they have whipped out a stack of paper. For others, there is nothing worse than clipping coupons and the accompanying groan from people behind you in line when they see them.
If you absolutely hate coupons and still want to start saving money ASAP, there is hope but you have got to be smart. Here is what you need to do.
Choose The Right Stores
I like to divide my shopping up to four main stores. This allows me to shop the store with the biggest savings on the items I need. Sounds like a lot of shopping but it is really not that bad. When I shop each store, I generally buy a lot there so I hit most of them only twice a month.
- Sam’s Club
I like Sam’s Club but you can easily use Costco if that is your choice or if it is closer. Here I buy all of my cleaning supplies like dish and laundry soap. This is also the place to buy all of the individual snacks for the kid’s lunches and any food that stores for a long time like rice and dry beans. This is also my go to place for spices like garlic powder, paprika, etc.
Related to Sam’s Club but without the emphasis on bulk. This is where I buy things like chips, canned goods and any dry and frozen foods that do not make sense buying in bulk.
- Local Grocery Stores
These will vary depending on where you live. For me, this means Kroger, Tom Thumb and Brookshire’s. I check the circulars and just buy the loss leaders here. Those are the things that they heavily discount to lure you in so that you can buy more. This is usually meat. I buy as much as I can and take it home and freeze it.
- Farmer’s Market
If you have a local farmers market, that is great. It will allow you to buy produce grower direct and save a ton. Only buy as much as you can use in a week to keep it from going to waste. Also know where to store produce to make it last the longest. Utilize the separate vegetable and fruit drawers in your fridge and know which foods are best stored in a dark pantry.
Learn to shop the right store for the right item and you can save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year if not over the course of a month.
Join The Rewards Program
When all of those rewards programs rolled out years ago, I resisted as much as anyone. I hated the idea of having to use a card to get the savings that I was already used to getting. Well, there really is no choice nowadays, if you want the sales price, you have got to get the cards.
Suck it up and get the cards and if it makes you feel better, don’t use your real address and hone number.
Once you have that card, you get a number of perks.
You of course get to take advantage of the sales price, that is a given. In addition, you will usually get points that you can use towards fuel discounts and we all love saving money on fuel.
One more perk that you might not be aware of though is digital coupons. Not the same ordeal as the print variety, you can often simply go online, click the savings that interest you and they will be automatically applied next time you check out. Easy right? Between the sales prices, fuel rewards and digital coupons, I probably save at least $200 a month.
Shop By The Ounce
When you are looking at two identical products, it can be tough to determine which one really is the better deal. Luckily, nearly every store now gives you both the price and the price per ounce on the shelf price tag.
Take advantage of being able to see the price by the ounce to really know which product is the best deal. The ounce price is usually just below the full price, in smaller print of course.
If there is no ounce price it will be a bit harder but luckily we all carry calculators these days. Open up your phones calculator app and divide the price by the number of ounces in the product. A few seconds of extra work can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Suck It Up & Clip
If you really want to save money, the best piece of advice I can give is to do all of the things above and also just suck it up and clip the coupons. Yes, it is tedious but the rewards can be amazing at times. Imagine seeing a bill of 400 dollars roll all the way down to 200 dollars or even less. It can happen.
To top it off, it is not that hard anymore. The use of paper coupons has become easier with time and the advent of self check. Now, you can scan them yourselves without the pressure of other shoppers breathing down your neck. There really is no reason not to do it if maximizing your savings is the goal.