1) SAVE THE CIRCULARS:
Almost every week, up to 200 coupon offers arrive with your
Sunday paper, in circulars from two companies -- SmartSource
and Valassis -- which make up 88 percent of all grocery
It would be mind-numbing to clip and organize all those
coupons every week, so don't. Instead, Nelson says to label
the circulars with the date and set them aside in a drawer or
a box so you have a full ''library'' of coupons. Items often
go on sale several weeks after a coupon has appeared. A number
of Web sites, including Nelson's, www.couponmom.com can help
you match coupons in recent circulars with in-store specials.
''Nobody wants to look like grandma with a great big coupon
organizer,'' Nelson said. ''And you don't need to. All you
need is a list and your coupons.''
2) SHOP LIKE A PRO:
Study your store's weekly advertising circular and plan to
eat what's on sale. This will mean thinking ahead and planning
some meals. Look for coupon matches on discounted items, make
a list of what you need and stick to it.
Learn the coupon policies where you shop. Does your store
double or triple coupons? Will it match competitors' prices or
honor expired coupons? These policies can vary within chains,
so ask the store manager. Combining manufacturers' and store
coupons during a sale can add up to huge savings -- you might
even get the item for free.
This might sound like a lot of research, but Nelson says
once you get the hang of it, it takes just 15 minutes to cut
your grocery bill in half.
3) DON'T BUY WHAT YOU NEED:
As you start to recognize patterns -- when coupons appear
and when things go on sale -- you'll find opportunities to
stock up on your favorites. To do this successfully, you might
need to change your approach to shopping, because you'll be
buying based on price, not need.
This doesn't mean stockpiling enough conditioner to see you
through the apocalypse. Three to six weeks' worth of anything
is usually good, Nelson said, because that's about how long
the coupon and sales cycle goes at most stores.
4) CHECK YOUR RECEIPT:
Handing over your fistful of coupons and watching the
cashier subtract them from your total will feel great, but
make sure everything rings up the way it should. Studies have
shown that overcharging at the register happens three times as
often as undercharging, so always check the store's math. Some
grocers have price guarantees, which promise to give you an
item for free if you're overcharged. If you don't recognize a
mistake until you get home, don't be shy about taking the
receipt back to the store at your next visit.
5) STEP AWAY FROM THE CART:
Almost nobody leaves the grocery store with just a carton
of milk. Resist the impulse to stop in between regular trips;
instead, try to make it for a couple more days and stick to
Food is the second-biggest monthly expense for many
American households, right behind housing. And while it's a
great place to cut back when you're on a budget, it's very
easy to underestimate your grocery bill. You might think you
spend $100 a week, but if you go to the store every four days,
your bill is probably much higher.
''If you can plan a good, comprehensive list, you might not
have to go for another seven to 10 days,'' Nelson said.
''The best way to save money at the grocery store is not to
an excerpt from:
RICHARDS, Associated Press (ASAP)
© March 20, 2007