I am reading the Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half, by Stephanie Nelson. CouponMom.com is a cool site for savings on groceries (in the U.S.) and I like the easy way she has it set up. It is not quite the method I use, but it is a great way to do it. I still use her site to see what’s on sale and how to stack coupons for the beat deal.
Basically her advice boils down to: shop sales, use coupons where you can and combine them with sales whenever possible, and plan your trip. If it’s not on sale, don’t buy it. If you have a coupon, wait for the item to go on sale and use it then. Compare prices to see which shop (grocery, discount, dollar store…) has the best prices, and create a price book to track sales and compare across stores. You don’t have to travel all around town if you don’t want to, but at least get to know the prices of things so you know when an item is truly on sale.
She advises shopping weekly so you can hit all the different sales. Eat before you shop so that you’re not as tempted by snacks and things not on your list. Also, create your weekly meals around the store’s loss leaders. If it’s a really good sale, stock up and freeze or store the excess somehow for later weeks.
Once you get a bit of a stockpile going, you won’t have to buy things at full price ever. Buy enough when an item is on sale to last you until the next sale. For the first several weeks, your grocery bill will not go down because you are cteating your stockpile. After that, you should see significant savings because you no longer need to buy things at full price.
Pick about 20 items to track to start. She advises tracking your big items first. Things like meats and cereals. You can realize big savings there if you shops sales and stock up. Cereals usually have coupons as well. I had been doing this in a desultory way, but it’s time to really focus on it again. My problem is that I had been stocking up when there was a sale, but with no idea how good a sale it was. I had been saving some money and enjoying the fact that I was never running out of things, but I hadn’t timed the sales at all. Poor planning. When I did finally run out, I ended up paying full price for it again. Oops. So this time, I’ll be more systematic about the whole thing. It really is possible to save a ton of money.