Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cutting Your GROCERY Bill Down!

My Tiny Kitchen
"I was wonderin if you could give me hints, tips, advice whatever its called, on GROCERY can I bring the grocery bill down some more...I'm doin ok but wanna do even better...I'm getn personal items practically free at times but my groceries aren't exactly as low as i would like...thanks so much!!!! "- From a Couponing Mommy reader

Coupons are great and drugstores are super fun, but it's when you cut that grocery bill down from 200-250 a week to less than 40 that is when you really go W-O-W! Some weeks this is reasonable to do, and some weeks it is almost better to skip the coupons and grab the necessities. The first thing I want to mention, is that you need to have a realistic goal. Do NOT expect to be like the show, saving over 90-100% and sometimes getting money back. That is so unrealistic it makes me cringe. Here's a few tips I've learned along the way that ARE REALISTIC:

1. Learn to stockpile more than your toothpaste. When that box of cereal (or whatever it is) goes on sale at rock bottom price, you are going to want to grab up as many boxes that your family is going to need for the next 6-8 weeks. Now, I know this can be hard for some people, because I have an itsy bitsy kitchen myself. Then, you won't be buying it again till it goes on sale again. So, basically, you need to create a price point list of sorts on what you consider to be that rock bottom price. There is a link there to one list that I used when first starting, but I recommend making your own  based off of this one that is according to your stores that you shop at and your area...Everyone is different!

2. The BOX Syndrome. Or at least that's what I like to call it. I've noticed that a lot of coupons are for not so healthy boxed dinners and such. It's hard to feed a family the healthy things, like fresh produce, with coupons. There is a couple things you can do to get make sure you don't have The Box Syndrome. First, you are going to use overages to your advantage. Overages are when an item is on sale or sometimes regular price, but your coupon is for more than that! So, if you (at a store that doubles) have a coupon for 50 cent off a box of pasta and the past is buy one get one free at 1.69, you are getting 15 cents in overages back! I know you are thinking "seriously, 15 cents?!", but you have to remember that 5 boxes at that price will give you 75 cents back. If bananas are on sale that week at 49 cents, you can get 1.5 lbs of bananas for FREE! Also, when doing overages, remember that competitor coupons work really well with this, too! The second thing you can do with meat, produce, and milk is take full advantage of when there actually is a coupon for it. Sign up for emails from your favorite stores and make sure they have your address correct for mailing information to you. Occasionally you might get a coupon for 5 off 50 worth of groceries or 2 off 10 worth of produce. I ALWAYS print any and all bread, milk, meat, and produce coupons and I rarely let them expire without using them (see next point). Third, you are going to want to only buy these things when they are on sale at the same low price as the first point. When ground hamburger goes on sale for 1.99 a pound, don't buy 2 pounds! Buy what you are going to need for the next 6-8 weeks. For example, this week at one of my favorite grocery stores, Springer Mountain Chicken was on sale buy one get one free. I got 6 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts for 2.83 a pound making my total before the coupons, 17.00. That seems kind of high right? Well, I had the SS 8/07 $1.50 off coupon for it, and since I had 4 packs, I got to use 4 coupons. So, now it is 11.00 for 6 lbs or 1.84 a pound. Not too bad! Make your household meals around what fruits and veggies are in season...Like right now, we have a huge bowl of apples constantly on our counter for everyone to snack on! This is also where you might need to consider having an extra freezer to store some of these things.

3. OMG! I have about 300 hundred million coupons expiring this weekend! This is the absolute WORST coupon habit I have seen. Just because you have a coupon for it, does not mean that you have to buy it. I absolutely can not stress this enough! Coupons come and go, but once you spent that money buying it, you can't get that money back. There are a few high dollar coupons that you obviously will want to use before they expire, but ONLY if they are things that your family are going to use. You do NOT have to buy something simply because you have a coupon. Matter of fact, you don't even have to buy it if it is free. If it is something that is going to not be used or you already have plenty in the cabinet, SKIP it. Throw those coupons away or send them to the military to use. Move on.  Coupons are not given to consumers because they want us to save, they are MARKETING techniques to get us to buy. If you are buying simply because you have a coupon for it, then they are winning, and your grocery bill will never reach your realistic goal.

4. Make your list and don't go hungry! Shopping from a list can be the best way to save on your groceries. You avoid impulse buying. This can be pretty hard to do, especially if you have kids with you, but if you find that you simply *need* to buy some things that aren't on your list, let each person/child shopping with you pick out one thing they want. If you go down each aisle and are grabbing something on each aisle, you are bound to spend hundreds of dollars. This also goes with the weekly meal planning...which can take time to get used to as well. This is an example of what my meal planner looks like:
Mon- (hubby's night) Spaghetti, Salad, French Bread
Tues- (Soccer practice) Pizza, Salad
Wed- (hubby's night) Lloyd's BBQ Sandwiches, Peas & Carrots, Pasta Side Dish
Thurs- Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn, Biscuits, Gravy

Fri- (Soccer practice) Crockpot Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, & Onions
Sat- (Soccer game/Lunch out) Steak & Shrimp Stir Fry
Sun- (Church, Gamecock Soccer Game 1pm, Annabelle's Bday Party 3pm) Lunch-out, Dinner-bday party or snack on veggies & dip @home
Breakfast/Lunches- Ham Sandwiches, Leftovers, Bagels & Fruit, Cereal, Apples & PB, Soup, Chef Boyardee
And yes, all of these notes are on my planner because then I know what is going on and whether things need to be prepped before or meat taken out the night before. As for not going while hungry, well, that kind of just makes sense, lol! :D

5. Prepare ahead of time. Do NOT take your binder. Now, I know that seems like a strange idea...But, until you learn to stop impulse buying simply because you have a coupon for something, it is best not to have your huge stockpile of coupons with you. Plus, it will be a lot easier to stick to your list. Once you get established as a couponer, you can start taking it in with you again, but until then, at least leave it in the car. That way, you would have to make a special trip back in the store, so it must really be something you want, not an impulse buy. As for planning ahead, it goes hand in hand with making a list and a weekly meal planner. Get your list together, do your coupon matchups, look at the sales ad online (or hard copy if you get it in the mail). Prep! You will be a lot happier with your results if you can simply instill this rule with the #4 rule.

*Also, please remember that just because it isn't free, doesn't mean that it isn't a good price. It is not realistic to think that you will always be able to get everything for free. *

So, I hope this is helpful and answers some of the questions on how to get your GROCERY bill lower. A few other things to take in mind is to shop the stores that double and take competitor coupons. And don't forget RAINCHECKS!Pin It

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