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Grocery shopping is a necessary evil. Nobody particularly wants to do it, and looking at the receipt afterward is even more depressing. One way to make the experience more tolerable is to save a ton of money, like the individuals featured on TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Can normal people save as much as the people on that program?
No, as the show intentionally covers the most successful runs of the most successful couponers. However, saving 60+ percent on your weekly grocery bills is possible if you follow the steps below.
1. Abandon Brand Loyalty
It is important to recognize that you cannot pay for any particular brand name if your objective is to lower your grocery bill as much as possible. If you love Coca-Cola but you have a coupon for Pepsi, you’re not getting your preferred soft drink for awhile. The same principle applies to where you do your shopping. You will probably need to visit multiple stores per week if you want to save on every item you need, taking advantage of the best offers in each flyer.
2. Acquiring Coupons
The first step to saving at the grocery store is to acquire a ton of coupons. Many offers are available in the Sunday newspaper, so do not be shy about acquiring multiple copies to get a lot of a coupon you like. Websites such as Coupons.com and RedPlum.com also offer coupons you can print out, so get in the habit of checking them regularly to take advantage of any new promotions. Many sites cap how many times you can print a coupon out per computer, so using multiple computers is a great way to maximize online offers.
3. Join Rewards Programs
Many retailers now offer digital coupons as part of their membership cards, so join as many as you can to maximize your savings. Some offers are applied automatically whenever you purchase a promotional item, while others require you to manually select them before heading to the store. Be sure you understand how each one works to avoid missing any deals.
4. Use Discount Blogs
Finding every coupon, rebate, and sale item is too time-consuming for most shoppers. Thankfully, there are blogs that do most of the homework for you, identifying sale items and providing links to downloadable and printable coupons you can use to get the best possible price. The best way to find one in your area is to type “store name coupon matchup” into your preferred search engine. Just make sure that the offers are valid in your area if you shop at a large chain such as Safeway, CVS, or Publix.
5. Get Organized
A big pile of expired coupons on your nightstand is of no use to anybody. Once you have a good stockpile of coupons, they need to be sorted in a manner that allows you to see exactly what you have. Binders and/or envelopes have worked for many people, with the coupons sorted by product category or expiration date. The exact mechanics of your organization system matter less than whether or not it works for you.
6. Learn Coupon Policy
Every retailer has its own coupon policy dictating what you can do with coupons. How many coupons are allowed per item? Are internet coupons accepted? Are coupons doubled? With what exclusions? Are rain checks available for out-of-stock sale items? Knowing the answer to questions like these will help you determine which store(s) will give you the most value for your current coupon collection.
7. Focus On Shopping
When you make it to the store, concentrate on what you are doing. Do not get suckered into impulse buys, as they serve little purpose other than increasing your final bill. You should also avoid purchasing items you have no need for, even if you can get them for a great price. Finally, leave the kids at home if at all possible. Not only can it be hard to say no when they REALLY want something, keeping an eye on them can also prevent you from grabbing the precise sizes and quantities necessary to use all of your coupons.
8. Buy In Bulk
The products you use most frequently are not always on sale, so it makes sense to stock up when they are. This is especially true of products that do not expire, such as bath tissue and paper cups. You should try to dedicate an area of your home to a “stockpile,” a holding area for all of the goods you purchased when they were discounted. It doesn’t have to be huge, just large enough to ensure that you never need to pay full price for an essential.
9. Be Courteous At Checkout
It is harder work for your salesclerk than the typical transaction when you use a bunch of coupons. You can make it easier for them by announcing your intention to use coupons, asking if they want them all at once or by item, and handing over only coupons you can use for this transaction. It is beneficial to have a hard copy of the store’s coupon policy to help resolve any conflicts. You can also help your cause dramatically by paying attention to every item scanned, as there will never be a more convenient time to correct any errors.
The process will require a substantial time commitment on your part, so it may be best to slowly integrate these shopping tips into your routine. You will be saving significant sums of money in no time!