You see the advertisements online for saving money at the grocery store. “Save forty percent off your bill!” or “Cut your grocery bill by eighty percent!” How on earth, you may wonder, do people cut so much off their grocery budget?
The image of the “Coupon Queen” from the 1980s is that of a woman who spends countless hours scouring newspaper ads, clipping coupons and keeping them in a big file, and collecting rebate forms to match and compare. When television shows used to feature these women and their shopping trips, the woman typically went to the store, loaded up two carts, had $300 worth of food, and used coupons and rebates to bring the total down to $17.
What viewers didn’t know was that this Coupon Queen didn’t shop like that every week. Her $17 shopping spree was a rare event, and carefully orchestrated for the cameras.
However, the Internet has helped us all become Coupon Queens or Kings, if we want to be. Saving forty percent on grocery bills is easy; just “shopping the sales”–buying only items on sale–can save you thirty to forty percent. Where the big savings come in–fifty, sixty, seventy or more percent off–is when you combine store sales with manufacturer’s coupons.
Here is a step-by-step plan for how to save fifty percent or more each week at the grocery store:
1. Buy only items on sale, and buy in bulk. If boneles chicken breasts normaly cost $3.49 per pound and they go on sale for $1.99 per lb, buy one or two month’s worth of chicken breasts and freeze them–you just saved nearly fifty percent! Why buy food at full price? Stock up and buy one to two month’s worth of items when they go on sale.
2. Use manufacturer’s coupons on items that are on sale. Some people erroneously think you cannot use coupons when grocery items go on sale. This is untrue! Match coupons to sales and you’ll save even more. Imagine that toilet paper normally costs $10.99 for a 24-pack. It goes on sale for $7.99 one week. You have a coupon for $1.00 off. Now you’ve gone from $10.99 to $6.99–a $4 difference. Buy two packs and you’re set for a while, and you saved $8 without even working hard.
3. Use eBay to expand your savings. Managing coupon inserts from the Sunday newspaper can be expensive and a pain. Paying $10 per month to get the Sunday newspaper and getting coupons you don’t need may be fine for some people, but for others, there’s eBay. People sell coupons in batches on eBay. You can buy batches of ten or fifteen or twenty of the same coupon from sellers on eBay. Step four explains why this is important.
4. Buy in bulk, buy on sale, buy with coupons–bring it all together. Each week, as soon as you get your grocery store sales flyer, circle the foods you want or that are cheap and you want to buy in bulk. Then, go to eBay and do a search for those foods, using “[insert food name] coupon” for the search. Using “Buy It Now” buy coupons from sellers close to you–you can sort by location in eBay, to see who is nearby. Buy only those coupons you will use for your sales.
The coupons should arrive before the week ends (this is why you want nearby sellers) and before the sale ends. Go to the store and stock up. For instance, imagine spaghetti sauce is on sale for $1 per jar. You buy fifteen coupons good for $.75 off one jar. You get fifteen jars of sauce for $.25 each–and the sauce is normally $1.99! That’s a savings of eighty-six percent!
These strategies can be used by anyone–students, retirees, stay-at-home-parents–and can really shave your grocery bill. When you understand how to use coupons and sales to slash grocery costs, you make your wallet fatter and your pantry full!