From 2011 to 2013, we watched a tv show about extreme savings using coupons, we watched coupons change (for the worse) because of said show, food prices continue to rise, stores changing policies and store deals decline. It’s made many folks stop using coupons all together or use them less. It’s been a tough few years for many trying to stretch a dollar. Remember when gas hit $5 and food went up? The price of gas came down but the price of food did not. The price of groceries still remains on the uptick. I have had readers ask me, “Can I save money at the grocery store without coupons?” In one word, YES! We can get back on the road to savings and don’t have to cut coupons! Actually, I prefer these methods on most days.
Not every coupon in every circumstance will get you the best deal. In many instances, buying the non-brand names will be cheaper. If you really need an item and using your coupon still doesn’t bring the price lower than a non-brand item, then by all means buy the non-named brand. When your checking prices, look at both options. This would ring true for anyone who’s grocery store doesn’t double coupons as well. Not remaining brand loyal can significantly cut our food costs and the items, in many cases, are so similar you really can’t tell the difference.
The clearance aisle:
Always check the clearance aisle. My Dillons store puts all of their bakery items they don’t sell the day they were baked in the clearance section, so I buy those. I would MUCH rather get their cinnamon rolls for $1.49 as apposed to $3.50. They’re ONLY a day old. My mother in-law bought green sprinkles for 75% off after St. Patrick’s Day and was able to use them at Easter and Christmas. I have been able to score awesome deals on things like panty-liners for 50 cents a box! They may have been the store brand but it’s challenging to find deals like that with a coupon on a brand name. When I find a deal like that, I buy as many as I can. Those are stock up prices. That means, when the price is rock bottom, buy several and stock up! That’s money in your pocket when you know you won’t have to go out and pay full price for that item next month or even for a few months. I’ve found shampoo, soap, cough medicine, coffee filters, feminine products, cereal, toilet paper, makeup, snacks, you name it – for dirt cheap!
I always keep my eye out for damaged packaging. These can sometimes be found in your clearance aisle too. I don’t mean bent cans or sliced open food packaging, but on paper products like toilet paper and paper towels. Once in a while during shipping, a forklift or box cutter can damage packaging. I’ve seen this on cereal before and the plastic bag inside was perfectly fine! I’ve even seen my store markdown bent boxes of pasta. The item is still usable so the store will mark it down. Looking at packaging and special reduced price stickers can save you big time, and can possibly be on more than one item. You know what that means…. stock up!
When you see a marked down price at your store, most likely it’s because the item is either discontinued or the packaging is discontinued. This happens when manufacturers have decided to change the labeling on their product and the store needs to move it quickly to make room for the newly labeled products. These are not found in the clearance aisle all the time but in their regular place on the shelf. As you’re walking down an aisle, keep your eyes open for closeout or reduced markdowns!
Shopping at Aldis:
A couple of years ago, I tested Aldis to see if I could really save money with them. I had shopped at Walmart and then two weeks later bought the exact same items at Aldis. To my suprise I saved $80! You can really save money on canned vegetables and staples like flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and cooking oil. In some cases you can save more at Aldis then you could at your local grocery store using a coupon. Their produce is almost always cheaper too.
If you have never shopped at Aldis you do need to know a few things first. Most of their grocery items are in a warehouse type setting. They keep everything in boxes instead of having them stocked nice and neat like you’d see at your regular store. When you make it up to the cashier, they will scan your items, then place them back in your cart. They won’t bag your groceries and they do not accept coupons, (at least that’s how it is at my Aldis). When you pay, they do not take personal checks or credit cards, only debit cards and cash. Once you’ve paid, you move to a long counter where you can bag your own groceries, or put them in boxes they have discarded. This saves them money and they pass those savings onto the customer. Granted this may not be for everyone, but if these things don’t bother you then it may be worth a try!
If you don’t have the time or patience to cut coupons, using e-coupons may be for you. With my local Dillons store, (a Kroger owned store), I have a shoppers rewards card. On the Dillons website, I can download coupons they offer right onto my shoppers card. You can also download coupons onto your shoppers card at Cellfire. Stores supported by Cellfire are: Kroger and Kroger subsidiaries, Safeway subsidiaries (excluding Dominick’s), Shop ‘n Save, Lowe’s Food, Foodtown, Harps, D’Agostino, Marsh, and MainStreet Market. At the register, the coupons I loaded onto my card will be taken off of my receipt as soon as I scan my card. When your looking over your store’s circular, it might be worth it for you to see what e-coupons they have that will match any of their sale items. If you see an e-coupon you know you’ll use in a week or two, be sure to load it onto your card when you see before it’s taken off their site. When you do, print out the list of coupons you loaded onto your card. That way you can keep track of which ones you have and want to use.
Out of stock items:
It can be very irritating when you’ve done your homework and are prepared to shop, only to find out your store has been cleared out of that sale item you wanted to purchase. If the sale price is really good, the one thing you can do is get a rain check. Then the next time you go back, the store will most likely have that item restocked and you can get the price you missed the first time.
Now that stores like Walmart and Target will price match an exact item from another store, you can save a lot of time running from store to store. Price matching is easy but only works IF: you have the other stores’ ad with you that shows their sale price. It cannot say the percentage off , it needs to say in print what the actual sale price is. You can score great deals by price matching.
Saving money can be time consuming when your checking every store in your areas for prices and coupons. Naturally this doesn’t fit in everyone’s schedule. I suggest setting aside at least one hour per week. For every dollar you save, you’ve earned! If you save $10 in one week, you paid yourself $10 for doing your homework. Simply using our tips here can add up in one week. Additionally, print the match-up page off your favorite frugal website and take it with you when you shop! This is a great way to save time on having to type out or write out a long list and having to remember what coupon went with what deal.
Don’t waste your time driving 30 miles out of your way to save $1. Your gas will eat that and then some. So don’t sweat it! Even doing small, easy things can bring your grocery budget into a more tolerable range. The idea isn’t to go out and conquer every deal, or make your head spin- but to save you money.
Costco and Sam’s club.
The very best things I save on at Sam’s club are toilet paper and paper towels. Their prices are far better than any other stores, I won’t run out in a week and any coupons are such small amounts it’s not worth me even cutting them. If you’re saving more at the big box store on items you know you’ll use, by all means shop there. Be aware of stocking up on items you won’t use very frequently. Those items will cause you to spend more money up front, only to sit on a shelf.
Stay on a plan that is realistic for you.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to save on every single thing you buy each time you step foot in a store. Becoming and extreme couponer out of the gate isn’t realistic either. Here’s the skinny…those gals spend upwards of 40 hours every week on finding, cutting, separating, organizing and using coupons. Most people can’t do that. I don’t do that! My area isn’t as coupon friendly as it used to be so it doesn’t pay for me to spend too much time on it.
Once you get accustom to using these tips, you will get better at it. It does take time to get used to shopping this way. The idea that you can get something cheaper will open your eyes to the savings staring you in the face you would have missed otherwise or just wasn’t aware of. Once you get your money saving mojo, then you can ramp it up.
Having a stockpile will give you peace of mind. It’s also a great feeling when you’re saving so much money on items you know you’ll use and got them at rock-bottom prices. You can learn more about stockpiles HERE. Scour the clearance aisle or every store you go to as often as time permits. You never know what you may find!
If you’re stumped on how to begin using coupons, check out our page to get you started HERE!
If you’d like ideas for organizing your coupons visit our You Tube video.
Even without coupons, you can still save money. Happy Savings!