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Money-Saving Mama: Save more at the grocery store

Posted: January 7, 2013 - 5:57pm
Karen Green
Karen Green

Whether it is a New Year’s resolution, a money crunch or just a desire to learn something new, now is the time to learn how to do the best at saving money at the grocery store.

The first thing you need to do is to find your coupons. The best way to save the most money is to have multiple copies of the coupons. You can achieve this in many ways. First you want to purchase The Augusta Chronicle every Sunday to get the coupons there. They even offer a multiple subscription service in case you want to get additional papers. You can ask family and friends for their extra copies of coupons. You also want to go online to print out coupons off of reputable sites such as smartsource.com and coupons.com. Signing up online to have them sent to your email will save you some time in searching for the coupons each week.

Whether you go to one or multiple grocery stores, you can go online to their websites and either print out coupons for their store or upload coupons to your savings card. You have to know which stores allow you to use manufacturer’s coupons along with their store coupons though. Kroger lets you upload coupons to your savings card but these cannot be used with manufacturer’s coupons. They will send you Kroger coupons in the mail but these are actually manufacturer’s coupons and cannot be used with other manufacturer’s coupons. With Publix you can print out coupons as well as ask for their coupons from the customer service desk and these can be used along with manufacturer’s coupons for extra savings. Bi-Lo has coupons you can upload to their savings card and, at this time, these can be used along with manufacturer’s coupons.

You also want to remember which stores will double your coupons. All three of the above mentioned stores double coupons-- Kroger up to 50 cents, Publix up to 50 cents and Bi-Lo up to 60 cents. This is a good way to maximize your savings by doubling the amount of the coupon.

The easiest way to start out saving the most is to make a list of those items you buy most often. These are definitely the items you want to try to stock up on by buying them with a coupon, if possible, when it is on sale. This might mean that you buy four of that item to get you through until it is on sale again, but this will save you a lot of money in the long run. Another way to save buying items this way is when they are on a Buy 1 Get 1 Free (B1G1F) sale. If you only have one coupon, at all three of these stores, you need only buy one item to get the sale price of half off.

Another good way to save money at the grocery store is to simply watch what you buy. What I mean by this is not to fall into the trap of seeing the brand new convenience item on the end cap of an aisle and think that it is a “good deal” because it is there. This is a marketing ploy to get more sales by that manufacturer or the store. Even though it may only be $2.50, over time this adds up. If you stick to the tried and true items that you know your family will eat or use, you will wind up saving a lot of money over time by not throwing out a box of cereal that one bowl was eaten out of or throwing out that box of cookies that no one liked. Sometimes this means buying the generic brand because it is less expensive and you don’t have a coupon for the main brand, but there is normally no real taste difference between the two. You have to be the judge of this, but don’t turn your back on the generic brand just because it is generic.

If you have also wanted to start eating healthier this year and think that coupons are only on food that is “bad” for you, that is not necessarily true. While there are a lot of coupons for so-called not so healthy items, there are plenty of coupons for organic items, dairy and frozen items that are good for you as well as coupons for produce and meats. You can do a Google search for organic food coupons, look on their websites, and check out the store’s websites as well. Organics are becoming more of a normal than ever so there are more savings opportunities than ever before. If there is something that you really want to try that is organic or cost a little more than you would normally pay, it doesn’t hurt to first contact the manufacturer of that item and ask for a coupon. They generally will send you a coupon or even a free item so that you will try their products.

I have had people ask me how much time I spend working on my coupons each week. The answer varies by week due to how many coupons are available and how much shopping I have to do but I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours plus shopping time. This includes cutting & sorting coupons, checking out the sales flyers and making a list from them as well as checking out websites for coupons and sales. The idea is that basically, if you want to start really saving money at the grocery store this year in an attempt to have more money in your pocket, you may have to do some legwork to get the most savings, but it doesn’t have to be hard and it is well worth it.

Karen Green can be booked to teach coupon classes and can be reached at budgetcoupons@comcast.net.

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