What if every week I handed you money to go shopping? You probably would use it right? You wouldn't say "oh thanks" and toss it in the trash would you? Nope, not a chance. What if I told you that every week you are doing just that?
My grocery bill this week should have been $39.67. Instead it was $20.32, here's how it happened.
My dear college aged cousin is learning how to coupon to help a young friend who is pregnant. This is, I have to say, the best possible reason to learn how to coupon. I have sent her to read the intro to couponing page at thekrazycouponlady.com and I suggest you do the same, but the thing is, you don't have to be crazy, poor, or extreme to use coupons, you just have to shift your thinking a bit. The receipt that prints at the grocery store is not a normal receipt. It is your "grocery bill", and just like you would take steps around your home to reduce energy waste by turning off the water and lights when you aren't using them, or caulking a leaky window, you can use coupons to reduce your grocery bill so that you have more money for things that are important to you, but you need to think of coupons as "cash" or a "payment method" rather than "a discount I have to work to get". Because it's not hard. At all. And you can save your family big money, or coupon to help a friend in need, or use it as a way to donate to charity, or teach your kids about money and budgeting. And it is NOT HARD.
If you only take a couple of coupons with you to buy things you need, then you are already ahead of the curve. Good for you! But if you want to rev up the savings, you will need to shop your pantry first, shop for what is on sale (before you need it), use multiple coupons, and plan your menu.
So how did I manage to get my grocery bill down to $20.32 this week? I did all of the above.
Last week Turkeys were on sale at two competing grocery stores for $.17 per pound with a minimum purchase of $25. The Hubster volunteered to do the shopping, so after planning the week's menu, I asked him to spend the first $25 at one store, and the balance of the list at the second store. That way he could pick up two turkeys. He spent about $100 on the weeks groceries, and some pantry staples. Once he got home, we realized that there was room for one more in the freezer, and with the holidays coming we would be able to use it, so I went out the next day and stocked up on more pantry staples like flour, dried beans, noodles and get one more turkey. The average savings per turkey was $17.50. In total, we spent $130, saved about $52 just on turkey, re-stocked the pantry, and used no coupons.
This week I planned my menu around what we had. Above is both weeks, (main dishes only) just to prove we are eating well.
Turns out for next week I only needed hamburger or sausage for chili, canned tomatoes, and drano. The website that I follow Lady Savings, announced (nearly) free toothpaste, and free frozen veggies, and told me what coupons to clip from my stash. When I got to the store, cider was on sale 2/$4.88, tomatoes were 5/$4, and a value pack of sausage was less per lb than the normal package. I ended up buying enough food for 2 large batches of chili, cider for at least two weeks, 6 packages of frozen veggies, 5 tubes of tooth paste, and valu drano.
The frozen veggies were $1.25 each. I "paid" for them with 6 copies of a $.75 off 1 package coupon which the store doubled.
The toothpaste was $1.19 each. I "paid" for them with 5 copies of a $.50 off 1 package coupon which the store doubled, plus $.95 on debit.
After all the store discounts and coupons were totaled, I saved $19.45, bringing the total bill to $20.32.
The total for two weeks was about $150, or $75 per week, but I have at least 3 crowd sized meals in the pantry/freezer, (Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas turkey, and chili fixin's), and I won't need to buy pantry items until about January, which will reduce my grocery bills for the next few weeks. In total, I probably spent 30 minutes planning all three trips, which saved me over $70. Not to shabby.