PDA

View Full Version : How do you save money at the Grocery Store


jenrose66
05-23-2007, 05:19 PM
Seriously :confused3

I try to clip coupons, though I don't religiously, (I know..problem one). I just don't know why I spend so much money at the store. It's just me and DH and DS. DS eats baby food and formula so that gets expensive...but what I'm worried about is the actual food I'm buying. I'll spend a good $130 at the store and within a week we don't have anything to eat.

I shop at the local Wegmans store. My mom says that's my problem. They switched to the consistent low prices, so nothing ever really goes on sale. Though the prices do seem consistently low. I mean we have a Tops near us and I'll look at the ad and they have something on sale for $2 and I know it's always $2 at Wegmans so why bother with Tops.

We also have an Aldi's and Save-a-lot but I really hate those stores.

I mean I guess I need to quit whining and change something. I just don't know what. I'm trying to start meal planning...but it's so tedious. I used to love to cook, but ever since I had the baby 10 months ago, it's like my cooking went down hill.

So anyway, I'd like to know...what do you do to stay on budget at the grocery store?

Thanks,
Jen

MrsPooh
05-23-2007, 05:48 PM
My #1 key for saving is to plan menus and then make a list of what I need to make the meals plus whatever else we need. This is key for me because then I know I have what I'll need to make the meal so I don't run to the store and end up spending more, plus, if I can't decide what to make than we end up eating out and spending a ton more.

I look at our local ads and what I've got on hand before planning the menu and plan my meals around sale items/what I've got. I finally made a list of meals my family likes so I just choose items from there. I try to plan two weeks worth at a time and just make a stop in the middle for extra milk, fruit and veggies. I do clip coupons and match them with sale items for bigger savings. I also buy extras if something we regularly use goes on sale so I don't have to pay full price later. For example, frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts are usually about $9 for 3lbs but go on sale for about $5/3#. When they are on sale I buy as many as I can afford since we eat lots of them.

I know you said you don't care for Aldi's but you might give them another try. I used to not think to highly of them but now they are my first stop. Some things we don't care for from there but there are some items that we actually prefer in the Aldi brand rather than some name brands. The fresh fruits and veggies are usually good too. I don't buy everything there but save more than enough to make it worth the stop.

I'm sure others have some good tips too. I can't wait to hear.

chocovrdmicears
05-23-2007, 05:52 PM
1.I clip coupons religously and use them weekly. Also be willing to try new brands. Some things I won't mess with like Kraft Mac & Cheese. But some of the inexpensive brands work just as well.

2. I shop alone! Seriously. That way I can concentrate on sales vs. what coupons I have without any distractions AND it prevents items that were not on my list from ending up in the carriage!

3. Make a menu plan and a shopping list. This has seriously helped us save the most. When I make my menu plan I always try to add a couple of 'new' recipes to keep myself (and family) interested. Plus it eliminates the 'what am i making for dinner' game mid-week.

4. This one may be a HUGE help to you with a new baby. USE A CROCKPOT. You can make all kinds of inexpensive meals and all you do is throw the ingredient together in the morning & they are ready at dinner time. I use mine 4-5 times a week. I LOVE it.

5. On my shopping day I usually take the time to prepare things to have in the fridge. Like I chop up a bunch of fruit and make a fruit salad for my husband and kids to take to work/lunch. I also cut up carrot & celery and keep them in a container. I often make a big bowl of pasta salad (no mayo) to keep on hand too. It takes a little planning and effort for 1 day but this keeps us from feeling like there is "nothing to eat."

All that being said, when my kids were really little(infants) we ate out and did take-out a LOT. I just didn't have the energy to do what I do now! Now that they are both in school I am MUCH more organized so don't be too hard on yourself! :)

IluvKingLouis
05-23-2007, 06:22 PM
I read the weekly ads online and plan around that. I second the crockpot recommendation. An average cut of meat will turn out tender and flavorful with very little effort. When there aren't any good meat sales, I fall back on a handful of good vegetarian meals (spinach lasagna, pasta and pesto, quiche, etc).

I try to stay away from convenience food, and when I do buy them they are usually the Walmart house brands (stuffing, flavored rices, etc).

I like Walmart for staples, but I don't care for their meat or produce. I've also scaled back on our protein/meat portions so that we consume 3-4 oz at most. Which is perfectly adequate, as we don't need a half pound of meat on our plate every night. :rotfl2:

Good luck! And as the previous poster said, don't be hard on yourself with a baby in your household. It's tough to find the time and energy with a little one in the house!

Frantasmic
05-23-2007, 06:24 PM
Since just you and your husband eat, are you actually cooking each night? If so, I bet you throw out more than you think because you don't like leftovers.

You can probably split recipes in half or make something and put it in two small 8 x 8 pans and freeze one.

Don't shop when you are hungry.

Make a menu and list and stick to it.

Does your $130 include only food or is the grocery store also where you buy other non-food items (tp, paper towels, etc.)? If you are also buying non-food items, your $130 a week isn't that bad.

How do you handle work lunches? Does the $130 also include sandwich meat and other lunch items or do leftovers get eaten for lunch? Again, if the weekly budget also pays for lunch, then you aren't doing bad at all for two people.

$130 for 2 people for 3 meals a day for 7 days a week is 42 meals. 130 divided by 42 is about 3 bucks per meal, that's not bad especially if your
grocery purchases also include non-food items.

So, your budget may be fine and your perception may be skewed a bit. Or you may be throwing out more food than you think you are or your freezer is stuffed with leftovers that you don't eat.

formernyer
05-23-2007, 07:16 PM
I'm one of those crazy people who can "buy" $600 in groceries and only pay $5 for it. Coupons play a HUGE role, but they are not the be all and end all.

Assuming you are not going to clip coupons (which you definitely should), here are some ways to save:

(1) I completely disagree with all the posters who make menus as a way of saving. Not only is it time consuming and hard to believe that people know in advance what they will feel like eating in a week, but it's also not a good way to save money. Shop the ads and buy what's on sale. If you make a menu ahead of time and the items on the menu aren't on sale, then you aren't saving!!!

(2) Buy only marked down meat and bread. They are normally as perfect as the fresher packages. Every once in a while you might find a package that looks a bit old...just don't buy those ones, lol. Most of them are perfectly good though...and 40% off. An even better bet is to stick to the markdowns on meat that was already on sale. For example, if boneless chicken breast goes on sale for $1.99, then it's going to be around $1.20 per pound once it's marked down...that's a HUGE savings off of the $3.99 per pound regular price!

(3) View the ads ahead of time and figure out what items you use are on GOOD sales (this doesn't mean $.10 off). If an item is 50% off or Buy One Get One Free, then stock up on it. Don't just buy what you need for this week. Buy things you know you'll use in bulk. You might end up spending a little more up front, but within a few months you'll have a nice stockpile of food and your bills will be cut to almost nothing.

(4) If you need and item and it isn't on sale, then buy generic. It's a huge savings and the generic foods are packaged by the same name brand companies you love...you just don't necessarily know WHICH name brand you'll be getting because it's hidden by a generic label.

(5) Best saver of all is the coupons though - you'll get name brand foods a LOT cheaper than generic if you start using them. Learn to "save" your coupons for times when you can combine them with a sale. Find out which stores in your area have the best doubling policies and stick to those stores.

(6) BE FLEXIBLE! Be willing to buy what's on sale, rather than sticking to a rigid plan. And if you're the type person who buys premium cut meats, organic veggies, etc. either start eating "normal" foods or surrender to the fact that you're going to pay through the nose for things which may or may not have any real benefit.

(7) For the baby - join those baby clubs under lots of names/addresses. I had so many coupons coming in back when my kids were babies that I almost never needed to actually pay for formula. The key is to KEEP joining them, because the first two month is when you get the "good" coupons ($12, $10, $8). As for baby food, shop with sales and coupons, or (your best/cheapest option), just put whatever you and your DH eat into the blender. It's soooooooo easy and much healthier for the baby than anything they get from a bottle. Even if you think it's too spicy, it's normally ok for them and exposes them to a bigger variety of tastes early on. When you blend up too much, freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and once they are frozen transfer them to ziploc bags. Then on those nights when you're either not cooking for the adults or you're eating something too spicy, you can just pop a few cubes in the microwave for the baby. This will cut a lot of cost out of your grocery bill, because it's basically just feeding the baby your own leftovers!

formernyer
05-23-2007, 07:22 PM
$130 for 2 people for 3 meals a day for 7 days a week is 42 meals. 130 divided by 42 is about 3 bucks per meal, that's not bad especially if your
grocery purchases also include non-food items.



$3.10 per meal is exceptionally high IMO, even if it includes non-food items. First, it's unlikely that there are even 42 meals there since most people either skip breakfast, eat lunch out, eat dinner out, or some combination of those things during the course of a month. And let's keep in mind that breakfast is VERY cheap! Personally, I think $3 per person is about the most it should ever cost per person for a single meal, and that's on days when you're serving a nice cut of meat. Most meals cost substantially less.

Nicolepa
05-23-2007, 10:40 PM
$3.10 per meal is exceptionally high IMO, even if it includes non-food items. First, it's unlikely that there are even 42 meals there since most people either skip breakfast, eat lunch out, eat dinner out, or some combination of those things during the course of a month. And let's keep in mind that breakfast is VERY cheap! Personally, I think $3 per person is about the most it should ever cost per person for a single meal, and that's on days when you're serving a nice cut of meat. Most meals cost substantially less.


I have to agree. I just calculated what I spent the last 2 months. I averaged $500 for April & May. April was very expensive because we had company who have lots of special requests (and they aren't cheap). Even so that is $17/day for my family of 4. So I spent probably $700 in April, but I only spent $300 in May. That includes everything, paper items, cleaning etc.

Last month I also did a month of meals. I did over 30 meals (for 4) for $120. That is $4/day (or $1 per person). We had flank steak, manicotti, spaghetti, chicken curry, cherry pork chops, etc. In other words, we are eating very well. You do have to add in veggies/sides. But that is probably another $20 for the month, tops.


As far as saving. I cook for a month (or two) at a time. I base my menu on things that I was able to stock up on during the month. Or when I see chicken really cheap I will buy a ton and throw it in some marinades and freeze. Ground beef, brown up for tacos etc, make spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes etc. I don't necessarily pick when I'm going to have the meal, it's just nice to have in the freezer so I don't have to cook every night.

I rarely have to shop for things I need (except milk & bread). I buy things as they are on sale (and use a coupon) and stock up. When I need something I go to the garage and shop rather than the store. I rarely pay for shampoo, toothbrushes and such. I watch Walgreens and Rite Aid for their free after rebate (or free after rebate and coupon).

teamagic
05-24-2007, 02:02 AM
Coupons, Coupons, and Coupons!! I started this year clipping coupons and trying to comine them with the grocery store sale. Also, buy extra papers when there is alot of good coupons that you will use. I have already purchased 3 or 4 newspapers just for the coupons. :rotfl2: When the items that you use alot go on sale, buy more than the week and stock up. As another poster stated, have a large stockpile! At first you will spend more per month, but in the long run you are saving money. Once you get a stockpile, you can be more selective on if an item is a good deal or a great deal. Also, don't forget about Target. There web site has their own Target coupons which you can print out and combine them with the sale for great savings. I was at Target today and purchase sour cream for .90 versus 1.60 on sale at the local grocery store. Also, as another poster said, I hardly pay full price for shampoo, asprin, cold meds,toilet paper, diapers. I watch for Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid for the free after rebate. I have Dh signed up with a card and take advantage of the free items. Dh was not very interested when I first started because he did not think I would have any real savings. Now, he is totally with the program.

MrsPooh
05-24-2007, 07:50 AM
I'm one of those crazy people who can "buy" $600 in groceries and only pay $5 for it. Coupons play a HUGE role, but they are not the be all and end all.

Assuming you are not going to clip coupons (which you definitely should), here are some ways to save:

(1) I completely disagree with all the posters who make menus as a way of saving. Not only is it time consuming and hard to believe that people know in advance what they will feel like eating in a week, but it's also not a good way to save money. Shop the ads and buy what's on sale. If you make a menu ahead of time and the items on the menu aren't on sale, then you aren't saving!!!



I'm also one of those crazy coupon people who uses coupons to buy the cart full of groceries for almost nothing. Truly I've never gotten $600 worth for $5 (you do much better than I do) because I never use all my free item coupons at once and stores here don't double which makes it harder. My personal best was $320 worth for $26!

Perhaps you missed the point of my "menu planning" comment. I would spend a fortune if I didn't menu plan because without the menu I would not use food most effectively and also tend to eat out rather than cooking. Without planning I end up running to the store almost daily because I'm missing the "one" ingredient I need or fix more expensive meals just because that is what I'm hungry for that day. It only takes me maybe half an hour before shopping but then I don't have to spend time daily planning what we're going to have for dinner.

My meal list plan starts with an inventory of what is on hand from my stockpiles and what is on sale. The menu is built around that and my shopping list is just the odds/ends I will need but don't have on hand.

You are right - I have no idea what I will "want" to eat a week or more in advance but the truth is, every day each member of my family will want something different but we all eat what I make since that is all that is on the table. I make sure to plan something for each person so no one is unhappy all the time.

Considering the amount of time that I invest in clipping coupons, matching them with sales and going to different stores to use them best, the menu planning time is not much at all.

I tried the crockpot route but dh doesn't like his "flavors" mixed and hated every meal I made in it. He doesn't like casseroles much either. In addition, he really wants meat with his meals so the meatless dishes don't work well here. We are a family of 5 (two adults, one teen, one nearly teen and one little one). Breakfasts are cheap and lunches are not bad, especially since most they are often leftovers. I often try to see how much I spend to make a dinner meal just because I like to keep track and I want to compare what we would have spent to go out. We eat well and always have meat, two or more veggies, dinner rolls or nice bread, often fruit and a salad plus a dessert. We are big eaters and eat large portions. I find my cost for all, including adding in some for condiments and drinks, ranges from $5 - $15. Usually we are near the low end but some special meals just cost more and that amount includes the leftovers which go for future lunches.

minniemair
05-24-2007, 08:40 AM
This is a great topic. Keep the tips comin! I do agree with the poster about buing the marked down meat. I know it sound kind of gross, but our Acme marks it down every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. If you get there by 8 am you are getting meat just put out the day before at a pretty good savings. Just ask at the butcher counter when they mark it down at your store. My biggest help is our upright freezer. I break down the big packs of meat into useable portions and label them. Keep a running list so you remember what you have. Or take a chance and thaw a mystery meat meal! I do use my crockpot alot in the cooler months but haven't figured out many summer recipes. Any ideas?

grlpwrd
05-24-2007, 09:38 AM
I agree with planning a menu. $3 a meal per person beats out going out to eat for $10+ per person. I actually have a repertoire for each day or thereabout. Weekends I have more time to cook so I choose new recipes, Mondays are taco nights, Tuesdays I serve a crockpot meal, Wednesday is stirfry, Thursday is spaghetti or vegetarian night, and so on. I do mix them up or change the menu often to prevent boredom.

I also have soup night or breakfast for dinner night to mix it up a bit. Soup can be easily made with leftover veggies and breakfast food like eggs, pancakes, and waffles are inexpensive if homemade.

OAMC, or once a month cooking, is also a huge money saver. My favorite website: http://snider.mardox.com/OAMC.htm Even mini sessions would be economical. I usually do OAMC during fall and winter when I am super busy with my classes, but I have more time since I take only a few classes now.

Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper so I try to use recipes that use less meat. Beans and legumes are healthier for you anyway.

Here are some websites to help you along:

www.savingdinner.com menu mailers by subscription, but there are some free sample recipes there

www.mycoupons.com check out the forums for couponing help

recipe websites like www.hillbillyhousewife.com where you can even make your own yogurt, http://www.bbonline.com/recipe/ for 'bed and breakfast' type recipes, http://www.copykatchat.com/ , www.tasteofhome.com , and www.recipegoldmine.com

:hippie:

e2mom
05-24-2007, 09:41 AM
I have a coupon question. I have read many posts about people buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for $20 - $30. I remember when I was a kid my mom did this. My question is, where are you getting all of these coupons? I look in the Sunday paper every weekend and the coupons are rarely for anything we actually use. And the expiration dates on most of them are relatively soon. How do you all do it? I REALLY want to learn. I'm so tired of spending a small fortune on groceries. HELP!!!

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 09:50 AM
I have a coupon question. I have read many posts about people buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for $20 - $30. I remember when I was a kid my mom did this. My question is, where are you getting all of these coupons? I look in the Sunday paper every weekend and the coupons are rarely for anything we actually use. And the expiration dates on most of them are relatively soon. How do you all do it? I REALLY want to learn. I'm so tired of spending a small fortune on groceries. HELP!!!

The one person said she gets them from others recycle bins.

Most coupons are on processed foods and I try to limit them. Also what can one do with 100 boxes of brownies? One person said she sold them on ebay. Who buys them?:confused3

DawnM
05-24-2007, 09:52 AM
Grocery Game is awesome. It will match your local Sun. paper to your local store's sales and show you how to get things very cheap.

See if AngelFoodMinistries.com is in your area. Click on "host sites" to see locations.

Shop the circulars. We have one store here that every week has a long list of BOGOF items and if you shopped there and only bought that stuff your grocery bill would be pretty cheap.

Don't hate Aldi's! Seriously, shop there anyway. I used to hate it too, but have found that they have some things that we really like and if I go there every month or so and stock up, it saves.

Love your leftovers! We can eat a pot of Spagheti for several days! It actually tastes better the 2nd or 3rd day as the flavours seem to marinate into the noodles more.

Make meat more of a condiment. Small amounts of meat will add flavour but not the fat, calories or cost of large amounts of meat.

Dawn

formernyer
05-24-2007, 10:37 AM
The one person said she gets them from others recycle bins.

Most coupons are on processed foods and I try to limit them. Also what can one do with 100 boxes of brownies? One person said she sold them on ebay. Who buys them?:confused3

I'm the one who posted this. When I was a serious coupon addict (which I'm not right now, but I'm probably going to get back into it again soon), I would collect about 100 papers worth of coupons each week via the newspaper recycle bins.

The key is to clip EVERY coupon, and not just the ones for products you use. Just because you don't use a product, doesn't mean you shouldn't "buy" them if they are free! In addition, sometimes "buying" those items that you don't use can actually SAVE you money on your overall grocery bill. For example, if you "buy" a $1.00 item and save $1.20 on it in coupons, then you've MADE $.20 on that item...that $.20 will effectively be applied to the remainder of your grocery bill, plus you get the item you "bought" for free. Let's say you had 25 coupons for that item...well now you've just gotten 25 free items (even if you can't use them) and you've also reduced the remainder of your grocery bill by $5.00. If you can't use the free items, either have a yard sale, sell them on eBay, give them to friends/neighbors, or donate them to a charity. SOMEBODY out there wants them!

I'll never forget the time that I purchased about 50 packages of Depends, because they were free. I went onto a checkout lane with a teenage male cashier and a teenage male bagger. I could tell they wanted to laugh at my order, so I made a joke about it myself :rotfl: BTW, I put all those Depends out at my yard sale for $1.50 per package and they were all gone within an hour!

As for what people will/won't buy on eBay, they will buy ANYTHING! If the free items from my stockpile are lightweight personal items, I sell them in lots on eBay. I sell razors, deodorant, lotions, etc. this way. I've even sold certain food items on eBay this way. Most of the food items or heavier items like household cleaners I sell at a yard sale. I sell them for about 50% of their store value and they sell out VERY, VERY fast.

If you don't like the idea of collecting coupons from recycle bins, you can buy them online or you can trade online.

KKB
05-24-2007, 10:54 AM
DH, me, DS12, DD9, DS6 (human garbage disposal) $500-600/mo. for FOOD.

Religiously us the ads to guide my shopping. I have a store I like very well. Local warehouse store cuts their sale prices by .01:confused: But it doesn't have all the items I want & meat and produce aren't as good.

Buy store brands for most items. Cereal is one are I will NOT buy store brands...I strive to find cereal for $1.99-2.49/box.

STOCK up when items we use regularly are on sale.

I buy practically nothing from deli or bakery.

Meat is mostly lean hamburger, chicken breasts & salmon or talapia. Produce is guided by what is on sale. Though bananas, apples (in season), bagged salad & mini carrots are weekly staples.

Coupons only for items we use regularly. Have replaced most those items w/ store brand for MUCH less.

I feel we eat quite healthy.
Breakfast--cereal & juice. (eggs, turkey bacon & homemade waffles or pancakes on weekends sometimes)
Lunch--cheesy quesadilla, sandwiches, chix nuggets, fish sticks, Totinos pizza (though we are hooked on DiGiornio or Freschetta now!)
Dinner--one of above meats, salad, veggie, fruit, sometimes pasta/rice/rolls
Snacks--micro popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese, fruit, lite ice cream

I work full time, go to store once a week, with NO kids, if possible. (both of those are BIG money savers!)

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 11:08 AM
I'm the one who posted this. When I was a serious coupon addict (which I'm not right now, but I'm probably going to get back into it again soon), I would collect about 100 papers worth of coupons each week via the newspaper recycle bins.

The key is to clip EVERY coupon, and not just the ones for products you use. Just because you don't use a product, doesn't mean you shouldn't "buy" them if they are free! In addition, sometimes "buying" those items that you don't use can actually SAVE you money on your overall grocery bill. For example, if you "buy" a $1.00 item and save $1.20 on it in coupons, then you've MADE $.20 on that item...that $.20 will effectively be applied to the remainder of your grocery bill, plus you get the item you "bought" for free. Let's say you had 25 coupons for that item...well now you've just gotten 25 free items (even if you can't use them) and you've also reduced the remainder of your grocery bill by $5.00. If you can't use the free items, either have a yard sale, sell them on eBay, give them to friends/neighbors, or donate them to a charity. SOMEBODY out there wants them!

I'll never forget the time that I purchased about 50 packages of Depends, because they were free. I went onto a checkout lane with a teenage male cashier and a teenage male bagger. I could tell they wanted to laugh at my order, so I made a joke about it myself :rotfl: BTW, I put all those Depends out at my yard sale for $1.50 per package and they were all gone within an hour!

As for what people will/won't buy on eBay, they will buy ANYTHING! If the free items from my stockpile are lightweight personal items, I sell them in lots on eBay. I sell razors, deodorant, lotions, etc. this way. I've even sold certain food items on eBay this way. Most of the food items or heavier items like household cleaners I sell at a yard sale. I sell them for about 50% of their store value and they sell out VERY, VERY fast.

If you don't like the idea of collecting coupons from recycle bins, you can buy them online or you can trade online.
I guess if it works for you.

We never do yard sales, live in the country and are not big into ebay either. B

This does seem like too much work to me. If I did it I would donate all the free stuff to charity.

I guess my time is work more than all the work to get the extra coupons, clip them all, keep them organized, go to the store just to use them, cart them home and store them. I must be lazy.

How many hours did you spend doing this to basically eliminate your food bill?

formernyer
05-24-2007, 11:09 AM
Buy store brands for most items. Cereal is one are I will NOT buy store brands...I strive to find cereal for $1.99-2.49/box.

Coupons only for items we use regularly. Have replaced most those items w/ store brand for MUCH less.


I will never knock a person for buying store brands because they really ARE the name brands...you just don't know which name brand you're getting. For people who won't take the time to clip coupons, this is definitely a good way to shop.

HOWEVER, if you become skilled with coupons, you'll almost always find that it's MUCH cheaper to purchase name brands!

There are some items which it's hard to find good coupon deal for...things like flour, sugar, etc. For these items, definitely stick to store brands. You'll save money and never know the difference.

To comment specifically on your cereal issue...

I never, ever pay more than $1.00 for a box of cereal and I never buy store brands (not because I don't like them...just because it's cheaper to get the name brands). There are two ways that I get cereal cheaple:

(1) Collect $1.00 off coupons (you can frequently find them stuck to the outside of cereal boxes on the shelves...just peel them off). Save the coupons for the next B1G1F sale. The B1G1F sale will bring the price per box down to around $1.50 to $2.00 each. Apply a $1.00 coupon to each box and your ending price is $.50 to $1.00 per box. If you're lucky enough to live in an area where you can double $1.00 coupons (I don't :( ), then you'll make money on every box you "purchase."

(2) When I'm not in the middle of one of my coupon obsessions, I get my cereal at Big Lots. They almost always have some decent selections for $1.00 per box. Last week the $1.00 choices were Kellogg's Cinnamon Swirls, Kellogg's Peanut Butter Swirls, and Captain Crunch Chocolate Peanut Butter. Sometimes they even mark them down further if they are within a couple of months of the expiration date. About a month ago I got Organic Rice Krispies for $.65 a box. These are all big boxes...not the tiny ones!

teamagic
05-24-2007, 11:10 AM
I'm the one who posted this. When I was a serious coupon addict (which I'm not right now, but I'm probably going to get back into it again soon), I would collect about 100 papers worth of coupons each week via the newspaper recycle bins.

The key is to clip EVERY coupon, and not just the ones for products you use. Just because you don't use a product, doesn't mean you shouldn't "buy" them if they are free! In addition, sometimes "buying" those items that you don't use can actually SAVE you money on your overall grocery bill. For example, if you "buy" a $1.00 item and save $1.20 on it in coupons, then you've MADE $.20 on that item...that $.20 will effectively be applied to the remainder of your grocery bill, plus you get the item you "bought" for free. Let's say you had 25 coupons for that item...well now you've just gotten 25 free items (even if you can't use them) and you've also reduced the remainder of your grocery bill by $5.00. If you can't use the free items, either have a yard sale, sell them on eBay, give them to friends/neighbors, or donate them to a charity. SOMEBODY out there wants them!

I never understood the concept of clipping every coupon and buying things that you know that you are not going to use until this year. When I started becoming very serious about cutting our total budget, I tried this concept. At first I would buy items at CVS that were free or a money maker for me so that I could use the save $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase. In a very short time, I was able to purchase $20.00 of merchandise for under $2.00 every week.

As for what to do with the items that you don't use. I am involved with a non-profit foundation and we have a fashion show every April. I was able to take my unwanted items and put together a basket of toileties - shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothpaste, asprin, vitamins, etc..... When I was done the basket had a retail value of over $500.00, which I purchased for free. The basket was used as a special raffle and made over $350.00 for the foundation. My sil, who was at the fashion show said that any time I have a stockpile of items to let her know and she would be willing to buy them from me for around 1/2. As the other poster stated there is always something that you can do with the stockpile of items that you have - friends, family, or charities. Many churches or private schools also do a basket raffle and would love to have a basket of toileties!

Nicolepa
05-24-2007, 11:18 AM
A note about menu planning. If you take the time to do it for a month, then you don't ever have to do all that work again. Just use the same menu every month. Especially if you have 20-30 meals you won't get bored because you will be eating each meal only 1x a month.

Start w/a week and use that one week for a month, the next month add another week. Use those two weeks for a month (or two), etc. In a few months your monthly menu will be done.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 11:19 AM
How many hours did you spend doing this to basically eliminate your food bill?

At the point when I was most obsessed, I was "buying" about $1,000 in groceries every week. My out of pocket cost ranged from nothing to about $40, depending on what I was buying that week. Most weeks I spent about $20.

I spent about 30-60 minutes per week collecting coupons, 3 hours clipping/sorting, and about 3 hours in stores (most of that time on line since the cashiers always ran into trouble ringing up my orders :rotfl: )

So for about 6-7 hours of work each week, I would get close to $1k in groceries/cleaners/personal items. About half of it I'd add to my stockpile and/or give to family and friends. The other half I'd sell for about 50% of its retail value. So in the end, I come out with $250 in cash, plus about $500 in groceries for 6-7 hours of work...that's about $100 per hour, give or take...and it's TAX FREE.

So IMO if you know how to play the coupon "game" correctly, it's definitely worth the time and effort involved. I guess some people would prefer to work in an office for $20 an hour, but I think this is a much better way to pay the food bill.

jenrose66
05-24-2007, 11:20 AM
Thank you for all of your replies. This is great :thumbsup2 Something for me definately has to change because we are just wasting, wasting, wasting. We do not do good with our leftovers, we don't eat breakfast (except for the baby of course) and we usually eat lunch out. So we spend a lot on takeout on top of my grocery bill. Besides cutting coupons I am going to switch to the store in my area that actually does BOGO sales etc... I'm also going to try to menu plan to an extent.

Also, I can't remember who posted this, but what are Cherry Porkchops Those sound good.

ncbyrne
05-24-2007, 11:24 AM
I agree with your mother....WEGMAN'S? Yikes, their prices are about the highest around. I shop there only for specialty items or if I'm having a dinner party, etc. I don't know where you are in NY, but I live in NJ in as suburban area, in the metropolitan area of NYC. We have a plethera of grocery stores in this area... ShopRite (best prices of all), Pathmark, A&P, Acme, Food Town... Kings and Wegmans (two with the highest prices) are all an easy drive. I look at all the weekly ads and make a detailed list of what's on sale at any two stores. From that list I make my weekly menues. IF a coupon happens to be on a sale item, I make sure to combine the savings. Although there is an Aldi's not too too far, I don't shop there. We do not have department superstores, so buying all my groceries in Walmart or Target is not an option.

dhardawa
05-24-2007, 11:37 AM
I'm one of those crazy people who can "buy" $600 in groceries and only pay $5 for it. Coupons play a HUGE role, but they are not the be all and end all.

Assuming you are not going to clip coupons (which you definitely should), here are some ways to save:

(1) I completely disagree with all the posters who make menus as a way of saving. Not only is it time consuming and hard to believe that people know in advance what they will feel like eating in a week, but it's also not a good way to save money. Shop the ads and buy what's on sale. If you make a menu ahead of time and the items on the menu aren't on sale, then you aren't saving!!!

(2) Buy only marked down meat and bread. They are normally as perfect as the fresher packages. Every once in a while you might find a package that looks a bit old...just don't buy those ones, lol. Most of them are perfectly good though...and 40% off. An even better bet is to stick to the markdowns on meat that was already on sale. For example, if boneless chicken breast goes on sale for $1.99, then it's going to be around $1.20 per pound once it's marked down...that's a HUGE savings off of the $3.99 per pound regular price!

(3) View the ads ahead of time and figure out what items you use are on GOOD sales (this doesn't mean $.10 off). If an item is 50% off or Buy One Get One Free, then stock up on it. Don't just buy what you need for this week. Buy things you know you'll use in bulk. You might end up spending a little more up front, but within a few months you'll have a nice stockpile of food and your bills will be cut to almost nothing.

(4) If you need and item and it isn't on sale, then buy generic. It's a huge savings and the generic foods are packaged by the same name brand companies you love...you just don't necessarily know WHICH name brand you'll be getting because it's hidden by a generic label.

(5) Best saver of all is the coupons though - you'll get name brand foods a LOT cheaper than generic if you start using them. Learn to "save" your coupons for times when you can combine them with a sale. Find out which stores in your area have the best doubling policies and stick to those stores.

(6) BE FLEXIBLE! Be willing to buy what's on sale, rather than sticking to a rigid plan. And if you're the type person who buys premium cut meats, organic veggies, etc. either start eating "normal" foods or surrender to the fact that you're going to pay through the nose for things which may or may not have any real benefit.

(7) For the baby - join those baby clubs under lots of names/addresses. I had so many coupons coming in back when my kids were babies that I almost never needed to actually pay for formula. The key is to KEEP joining them, because the first two month is when you get the "good" coupons ($12, $10, $8). As for baby food, shop with sales and coupons, or (your best/cheapest option), just put whatever you and your DH eat into the blender. It's soooooooo easy and much healthier for the baby than anything they get from a bottle. Even if you think it's too spicy, it's normally ok for them and exposes them to a bigger variety of tastes early on. When you blend up too much, freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and once they are frozen transfer them to ziploc bags. Then on those nights when you're either not cooking for the adults or you're eating something too spicy, you can just pop a few cubes in the microwave for the baby. This will cut a lot of cost out of your grocery bill, because it's basically just feeding the baby your own leftovers!

I agree with absoultely everything here. I never make meal plans. I go to the store and I buy what is on sale. That is what we eat. I also am one of those annoying people who will be in line at Wal Mart (where overall things are cheaper) with the ads for every other grocery store in the area and I have them match the competitors price. My household is one adult and one child and we average about $25 - $30 a week for groceries.

dhardawa
05-24-2007, 11:44 AM
Okay, now I need more information. How are people getting all these items for free by using coupons. I just don't get it. The coupons I get are for around 50 - 75 cents and the items are $3+. I just don't see how that 25 cent coupon for Downey is ever going to get me Downey for free. Educate me!

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 11:49 AM
So for about 6-7 hours of work each week, I would get close to $1k in groceries/cleaners/personal items. About half of it I'd add to my stockpile and/or give to family and friends. The other half I'd sell for about 50% of its retail value. So in the end, I come out with $250 in cash, plus about $500 in groceries for 6-7 hours of work...that's about $100 per hour, give or take...and it's TAX FREE.

You get $500 in groceries and $250 in cash for your monthly groceries. That works out to $29 - $25 / hour [$750/ (6-7 * 4.3 weeks/month)]. Still a nice chunk of change but not as good as you stated.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 11:56 AM
You get $500 in groceries and $250 in cash for your monthly groceries. That works out to $29 - $25 / hour [$750/ (6-7 * 4.3 weeks/month)]. Still a nice chunk of change but not as good as you stated.

I never said that was a monthly amount...that's what I was getting each week!

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:01 PM
Okay, now I need more information. How are people getting all these items for free by using coupons. I just don't get it. The coupons I get are for around 50 - 75 cents and the items are $3+. I just don't see how that 25 cent coupon for Downey is ever going to get me Downey for free. Educate me!

Example:

Downey is one of the items that's hard to get free in a store which doesn't double coupons up to $1.00, but you can still get it VERY cheap.

Example: Wait for it to go on sale Buy One Get One Free. Now the cost is about $1.50 each. Go to a store which doubles coupons and use one $.50 coupon on each one. The coupons double to $1.00 each, bringing your cost per item down to $.50 each.

If you live in one of the few states which doesn't double coupons, it's a little harder to achieve this. If you live in a state which doubles $1.00 coupons, you can sometimes get products like this for free or even make money!

KKB
05-24-2007, 12:12 PM
I'm the one who posted this. When I was a serious coupon addict (which I'm not right now, but I'm probably going to get back into it again soon), I would collect about 100 papers worth of coupons each week via the newspaper recycle bins.

The key is to clip EVERY coupon, and not just the ones for products you use. Just because you don't use a product, doesn't mean you shouldn't "buy" them if they are free! In addition, sometimes "buying" those items that you don't use can actually SAVE you money on your overall grocery bill. For example, if you "buy" a $1.00 item and save $1.20 on it in coupons, then you've MADE $.20 on that item...that $.20 will effectively be applied to the remainder of your grocery bill, plus you get the item you "bought" for free. Let's say you had 25 coupons for that item...well now you've just gotten 25 free items (even if you can't use them) and you've also reduced the remainder of your grocery bill by $5.00. If you can't use the free items, either have a yard sale, sell them on eBay, give them to friends/neighbors, or donate them to a charity. SOMEBODY out there wants them!

I'll never forget the time that I purchased about 50 packages of Depends, because they were free. I went onto a checkout lane with a teenage male cashier and a teenage male bagger. I could tell they wanted to laugh at my order, so I made a joke about it myself :rotfl: BTW, I put all those Depends out at my yard sale for $1.50 per package and they were all gone within an hour!

As for what people will/won't buy on eBay, they will buy ANYTHING! If the free items from my stockpile are lightweight personal items, I sell them in lots on eBay. I sell razors, deodorant, lotions, etc. this way. I've even sold certain food items on eBay this way. Most of the food items or heavier items like household cleaners I sell at a yard sale. I sell them for about 50% of their store value and they sell out VERY, VERY fast.

If you don't like the idea of collecting coupons from recycle bins, you can buy them online or you can trade online.

Now that double coupons only exist at one grocery store in town, and it is too far to be practical.

It is RARE that a coupon's value is signifigant enought to warrant a purchase unless I use it. .25 off 1.50 or 1.00 off 3.00 is fine if I use it.

KKB
05-24-2007, 12:15 PM
Example:

Downey is one of the items that's hard to get free in a store which doesn't double coupons up to $1.00, but you can still get it VERY cheap.

Example: Wait for it to go on sale Buy One Get One Free. Now the cost is about $1.50 each. Go to a store which doubles coupons and use one $.50 coupon on each one. The coupons double to $1.00 each, bringing your cost per item down to $.50 each.

If you live in one of the few states which doesn't double coupons, it's a little harder to achieve this. If you live in a state which doubles $1.00 coupons, you can sometimes get products like this for free or even make money!

Taget/CVS/Walgreens in my area say BOGO you can only use ONE coupon, since you really aren't BUYING the other item (the free one...). I'm shocked your stores allow this!

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:15 PM
This photo is very dated, but here's a pic of a PARTIAL inventory from between yard sales. This is only part of the room...the room was ENTIRELY filled, just like this little portion of it. I finally got sick of having a room completely devoted to stockpile items, so I now have a warehouse which stores all my inventory (I eBay for a living, so I needed space for "real" inventory and not just groceries). My grocery stockpile is fairly depleted at the current time, because I got burned out on couponing and stopped being hard core about it. Now I'm motivated to start up again though ;)

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2006-8/1202457/pics078.jpg

dhardawa
05-24-2007, 12:22 PM
Example:

Downey is one of the items that's hard to get free in a store which doesn't double coupons up to $1.00, but you can still get it VERY cheap.

Example: Wait for it to go on sale Buy One Get One Free. Now the cost is about $1.50 each. Go to a store which doubles coupons and use one $.50 coupon on each one. The coupons double to $1.00 each, bringing your cost per item down to $.50 each.

If you live in one of the few states which doesn't double coupons, it's a little harder to achieve this. If you live in a state which doubles $1.00 coupons, you can sometimes get products like this for free or even make money!

I need to move to where you are. I have never seen BOGO on any type of laundry or cleaning item. The closest we get is BOGO in cleaning supplies is on toilet paper and that is at Meijer who is so overpriced to begin with that when you figure the cost of two at Wal Mart vs the price of the BOGO at Meijer you only save about 20%.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:22 PM
Taget/CVS/Walgreens in my area say BOGO you can only use ONE coupon, since you really aren't BUYING the other item (the free one...). I'm shocked your stores allow this!

It all depends on how your individual store rings up the items. MOST stores in my area will ring up the items one of two ways:

(1) Items automatically ring at 1/2 price
(2) Items both ring up at full price, then one of them is backed out as a separate entry.

In either of these cases, the coupons will scan perfectly.

A few stores will ring up the sales this way:

The first item rings up at full price and the second item scans at $0.00...it's basically a non-entry and it will make the scanner beep when the second coupon is scanned. In this instance, the cashier will either be nice and do an override, or the coupon will be rejected.

The trick to "fooling" cashiers who want to deny coupons is to order soooooooooo much that they just scan the coupons without even thinking about it. They'll only stop scanning if the computer beeps at them. I used to plan VERY large shopping trips, with TONS of coupons. The people who get caught up in cashier-nazi antics are generally the ones who go up to the cashier with very small orders and a coupon on every item.

Also keep in mind that sometimes the cashiers will argue with you over coupon validity because they don't know the rules as well as you do. Be prepared to call over a manager and discuss the issue. If yuo know your stuff, the managers will almost always side with you. Yes, it can be embarrasing sometimes and the people in line behind you might get frustrated, but there's no reason to not get what you are rightfully entitled to. Whenever I had a very large order, I'd always warn the people in line behind me that I was using about 150 coupons and it might take a long time for my checkout.

Waseller77
05-24-2007, 12:25 PM
Thanks so much for your input on this thread - it is very helpful information!

I have a couple of questions... How do you organize your coupons to make them easy to find once you're ready to use them? I had been organizing them by category, but then ended up leaving them in the flyers because it took me almost as long to find them after I had cut them! Also, I have noticed that my store doesn't put all of the really good deals in the flyer. Do you bring all of your coupons to the store in the event that you find a good deal?

Thanks!

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:27 PM
I need to move to where you are. I have never seen BOGO on any type of laundry or cleaning item. The closest we get is BOGO in cleaning supplies is on toilet paper and that is at Meijer who is so overpriced to begin with that when you figure the cost of two at Wal Mart vs the price of the BOGO at Meijer you only save about 20%.

The really hot name brands for laudry items don't go B1G1F often, but the brands like FAB and ALL do. You can still get the "big" name brands like Tide free though. Check your coupons closely. Brands like Tide frequently put out $1.00 coupons and the coupons frequently don't have a "not valid on trial size" exclusion. If your coupons don't have this exclusion, you can use them to get the $.99 trial sizes for free...stockpile a ton of coupons and you'll get a lot of free detergent. Same thing with health/beauty items...use them on trial sizes and they'll be free a lot of times. Some brands you can almost always get the full sizes free with B1G1 sales though (Suave, V05, White Rain, etc.). Brands like Pantene tend to either be "cheap" on the full size or else buy the trial size if you want it totally free.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:29 PM
Thanks so much for your input on this thread - it is very helpful information!

I have a couple of questions... How do you organize your coupons to make them easy to find once you're ready to use them? I had been organizing them by category, but then ended up leaving them in the flyers because it took me almost as long to find them after I had cut them! Also, I have noticed that my store doesn't put all of the really good deals in the flyer. Do you bring all of your coupons to the store in the event that you find a good deal?

Thanks!

I have a 4" binder filled with clear baseball card sheets. It is organized by product type and each little baseball card section gets its own coupon (you can fit about 25 identical coupons in each section). I also keep a few pages which are either full sheets or 1/4 sheets, so that I can store forms. It takes a while to set up the system, but once you have it it's a breeze.

ALWAYS have ALL of your coupons with you, since you never know when you'll find something on an unexpected clearance that you can get free with your coupons!

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 12:37 PM
I never said that was a monthly amount...that's what I was getting each week!

You family eats $500 in groceries each week?:confused3

Do you give any of the $500 in groceries away? I only see it as money to you if that is what you have actually paid from a salary. The $250 is real money but only the amount of groceries you would eat would be considered real money. That is why I thought it was per month. A mom and two boys could eat $500/month but not $500/week.

Is this your full time job?

MrsPooh
05-24-2007, 12:45 PM
As far as getting lots of coupons...

I get one paper and have some family members who give me their coupon sections after they cut any they might use. I try to look through the coupons right away and if there is a really great coupon I go to the store and buy a bunch more. For example, one week the ads had a good coupons for several items we use, plus it had a coupon for a free box of dishwasher detergent and one for free cat food. I need the cat food and detergent so I bought about ten papers. They cost me $1.25 ea and I saved way more than that on just one box of detergen! I used to have a recycle bin near me and would stop a couple of times a week and get any coupon sections but now it is not worth the drive since I moved.

The best coupons come from manufacturers. If I really like a product or if I have a problem with one I call the 800# on the package. Recently I had a bag of Doritos with something wrong. I called and they sent me four coupons for free bags of chips.

Some coupons are on the packages. We like the pillsbury refridge. pizza dough. Recently it was on sale and each tube had a coupon on it. The dough ended up costing about fifty cents a tube. I bought a bunch - we have pizza once a week. I got creative with it too - put butter and herbs on it, rolled it and it was great bread, put lunchmeat and cheese in it, rolled it and they were great sandwiches. Gourmet style at low budget prices.

Some people trade coupons and/or buy them from coupon services. I've traded but never purchased. Buying/Selling them on ebay is technically illegal so you have to be careful about that.

One thing no one mentioned yet was about rebates. These will also really help the shopping budget. Walgreens has a monthly rebate book and usually there are several items that are free after you mail in the rebate and if you use a coupon or get your money back on a gift card you actually make money which helps cover postage and sales tax. I've gotten tons of free movie passes as rebates for buying items I would already purchase too. My kids love those!

As far as using so many boxes of brownie mix, cake mix, etc...if they are free or nearly free I'll get as many as I can. I figure how many I'll use before they expire and give the rest away. First choice goes to family members who pass their coupons on to me and then the rest go to our local food pantry. One time I was able to get over 100 boxes of Kelloggs cereal free. The food pantry loved me when I brought those up.

There are lots of websites devoted to couponing and rebating but my favorite is refundcents.com. It does cost to join but I always save more than my cost during the first week thanks to tips I get from other members.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 12:52 PM
You family eats $500 in groceries each week?:confused3

Do you give any of the $500 in groceries away? I only see it as money to you if that is what you have actually paid from a salary. The $250 is real money but only the amount of groceries you would eat would be considered real money. That is why I thought it was per month. A mom and two boys could eat $500/month but not $500/week.

Is this your full time job?

No, we do not eat that much in a week. :rotfl: I stockpiled it when it was free, so that I wouldn't have to buy it later and pay for it. I got out of the hard core couponing about 2 years ago and basically lived off my stockpile (of non-perishables) ever since.

To believe that income can only be derived from salary is a very shallow way of thinking. Let's look at it this way:

Scenario A - You can work for 10 hours at $25 per hour in an office and you'll make $250. Then you'll pay taxes on this amount, so you actually take home about $200. Then you'll need to pay for your groceries out of that $200!

Scenario B - You can work for 7 hours acquiring/clipping coupons and shopping, plus another 2-3 hours selling your stockpile (that 2-3 hours is assuming you sit outside with a mini-yard sale...there's a lot less time investment if you ebay it). For the same 10 hours of work, you'll pocket $250 (no tax effect), plus you'll add $500 worth of groceries/cleaners/personal items to your stockpile.

And no, this was never my job, LOL. It's certainly income though. I left a "real" job making 6 figures back in 2003. I now work about 10 hours per week selling on ebay (household goods, electronics, etc.) and it's my only source of income. I live in a 3,600 sf home and I've never had to sacrifice anything or do without.

Never immediately assume that non-traditional ways of making money aren't "income."

Soon I'll get back into the hard-core couponing because my stockpile is finally starting to run low and I'm re-motivated to do it!

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 01:01 PM
To believe that income can only be derived from salary is a very shallow way of thinking.
I never said that I believed that. Since I do not spend $500/week for groceries I did not see how I could say I made that much money. Now you did live off that food for 2 years so you eventually ate it. We eat very little of that kind of food, so it would not work for us.

Living in the country makes yard sales not a great idea for us.

Some of your ideas I could make work and others I would not do (taking the coupons off the packages seems like I am cheating others vs. taking discarded coupons).

sarahlovesmickey
05-24-2007, 01:01 PM
WOW Formernyer, your hubby must make some good money! I wish I could live this way, but just not realistic for us. =(

WeRblam
05-24-2007, 01:02 PM
I have a 4" binder filled with clear baseball card sheets. It is organized by product type and each little baseball card section gets its own coupon (you can fit about 25 identical coupons in each section). I also keep a few pages which are either full sheets or 1/4 sheets, so that I can store forms. It takes a while to set up the system, but once you have it it's a breeze.

ALWAYS have ALL of your coupons with you, since you never know when you'll find something on an unexpected clearance that you can get free with your coupons!

What does everyone use to bring along their coupons? Any suggestions on a great coupon holder that fits in your purse? Right now I have an envelope and it drives me mad! I definately need something more productive and that will fit in my bag... Thanks for your help!:dance3:

Nicolepa
05-24-2007, 01:05 PM
I have a couple of questions... How do you organize your coupons to make them easy to find once you're ready to use them? I had been organizing them by category, but then ended up leaving them in the flyers because it took me almost as long to find them after I had cut them! Also, I have noticed that my store doesn't put all of the really good deals in the flyer. Do you bring all of your coupons to the store in the event that you find a good deal?

Thanks!

I organize mine alphabetically. That way I never have to figure out if I filed it under x or y. I have a small rubbermaid container. I put A-Z tabs in and filed them. Now that I'm getting back into coupons I need a bigger container, but I haven't figure out what to use yet. And yes, I try to take my coupons with me whenever I go. It never fails when I take just what I have on my list, I see things i could have gotten.

formernyer
05-24-2007, 01:05 PM
The best coupons come from manufacturers. If I really like a product or if I have a problem with one I call the 800# on the package. Recently I had a bag of Doritos with something wrong. I called and they sent me four coupons for free bags of chips.


Buying/Selling them on ebay is technically illegal so you have to be careful about that.


You are correct about the coupons from manufacturers. If something is wrong, even if it's minor, always take the time to call or email the company.
You can even call them with compliments about their products and sometimes they will send you coupons. Just be very careful not to abuse this! I've seen on tv and read online about a lot of people who made calls to companies with fraudlent claims because they wanted free coupon items. Databases are maintained and you will eventually get caught if you try to take advantage of the companies. A few years ago I saw something on tv where a woman is serving jail time for stealing thousands of dollars in free product coupons from companies via fraudulent claims.


As for buying/selling coupons on eBay, I don't do it much because it's not usually worth my time and effort, but the way you get around the legality issue is by giving away the coupons for free, but charging for your time to clip the coupons.

grumpy28
05-24-2007, 01:06 PM
I am so jealous of all of you savy couponers!! I wanna be like that!! :yay: These tips are great and I really appreciate you coupon pros teaching us coupon students, how to become better couponers! I am a SAHM and need all of the help I can get with extra income! Keep the tips coming!

formernyer
05-24-2007, 01:10 PM
What does everyone use to bring along their coupons? Any suggestions on a great coupon holder that fits in your purse? Right now I have an envelope and it drives me mad! I definately need something more productive and that will fit in my bag... Thanks for your help!:dance3:

Honestly, there's no way I could have ever used something that fits in my bag. I just leave my big binder in the car at all times and drag it into the store with me every time. I rest it in the front of the cart. I get a LOT of strange looks and a LOT of questions from people who want advice.

This is going to sound crazy, but if you go to a binder system, NEVER leave it unattended, even for a second. I know of a LOT of people from other boards who have had their binders stolen from their carts (or else the entire cart disappears and is found in another aisle without the binder). People who see a binder know the person is a hard-core couponer and will have a lot of good stuff. I guess for some people they are too tempting to pass up. :mad:

HamTown
05-24-2007, 01:13 PM
With couponing, you really do have to live in the right place to really make it work. I have two stores that double coupons, but they don't give "overage" (once your coupon makes the item free, they don't give money back). Target seems to be hit or miss on overage, but you can combine Target coupons with manufacturers' coupons for good deals on sale items. But you still have to do your homework. A couple weeks ago, one store was offering triple coupons, but I ended up not using all the ones I had planned to because I knew that my regular store (food lion) could beat the prices they were offering with just a regular sale plus a face value coupon.

I use a binder and will buy an extra paper or two on the weekends with a proctor and gamble circular or any other really good coupon week. For things that we use a lot (Dora yogurt, for example) I will order some from a clipping service, but I'm not "hard core" by any means and I'm still saving approximately 40% on groceries, paper products and HBA. It's not worth it to me to buy everything that's "free" if I'm not going to use it within the next six months or so. I'll pick up "free" HBA at Rite-Aid to donate to the shelter, but it's one item every few months.

mickeyfan2
05-24-2007, 01:14 PM
This is going to sound crazy, but if you go to a binder system, NEVER leave it unattended, even for a second. I know of a LOT of people from other boards who have had their binders stolen from their carts (or else the entire cart disappears and is found in another aisle without the binder). People who see a binder know the person is a hard-core couponer and will have a lot of good stuff. I guess for some people they are too tempting to pass up. :mad:

Now this is really sad.

samanthacatangel
05-24-2007, 01:27 PM
I think a big part of saving $$ is also knowing what things cost to begin with. For instance, when Pathmark runs B1G1, I usually steer clear, b/c I know it actually comes out to more money per item than when the same item goes on sale. I save my coupons for items I use anyway, and when it is at the rockbottom prices.

I grew up in a house with my mom the couponer and refunder. Our garage was organized in a filing system for her "refunding" (rebates) and we were the family on the block with 12 boxes of cereal in the closet - and my brother, the vaccuum, ate it all!

I adapted her system for my family. I left a well-paying job to stay home with my daughter, and had to cut wherever possible. However, where my mom bought loads of processed crap (IMHO) I try to stick to more healthy options - organics when possible, whole grains, no processed foods, etc. If they are onsale and I have coupons, I do stock up.


To do this in the most cost effective manner, I do the following:

Of course, I have a store card and I shop the circular. When boneless chicken breast is $1.99/lb or under, guess what we eat? I buy a lot, repackage it and freeze some too.

I cook every day, and rarely eat out. This is the biggest $$ saver. I have a huge repertoire (sp?) of recipes for stuff I buy frequently (chicken, fish, bean-based meals) and I experiment so we aren't bored - Chinese dishes, Indian dishes, etc. I love www.allrecipes.com because they allow you to do an ingredients search where you can search by what you have on hand, and even eliminate things you don't have.

We have "planned-overs" where I will cook extra and freeze some for another time. Sometimes I take leftovers and make into totally new meals - a roast chicken will make quite a few meals.

We try to stay away from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and trans fats, so I am always stocked with baking staples. I use my bread machine to make whole wheat pizza dough and it makes great pizza and calzones. Mozzarella goes on sale for about $1.99 (plus coupons!) and it freezes very well. Ricotta goes on sale too, and stores well upside down in the fridge. Plain crushed tomatoes (very thin) makes a good sauce, as DD isn't a huge fan of sauce anyway.

I have a Pooh waffle iron, and make whole grain waffles every week for DD, and they freeze well. They are also amazingly good. I use this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Whole-Grain-Waffles/Detail.aspx

Also, if you belong to Costco, check them out - but you have to know your prices - not everything is cheaper. Chicken there is $2.79 a pound, so no bargain. But they do get in some great organic stuff (like juice boxes, which my daughter needs for preschool) and it is hit or miss. They also have fantastic prices on organic salad and other produce. No coupons allowed at Costco, other than their own.


So, bottom line is to know your prices, and decide what will work best for your family. That way you will know if you are really getting what you use for the best price.

Samantha

peggster
05-24-2007, 01:45 PM
I wanted to second Samantha's point about knowing your prices. It helps me a lot to know what I usually pay for the things I buy on a regular basis, so I know if on a certain week I'm better off buying it at SuperTarget at regular price or if it's cheaper on sale at the (usually more expensive) supermarket. This also helps in cases where one store doubles coupons and another doesn't.

Thanks for all the tips. I'm learning lots from this thread, and looking forward to much more!

Peggy

momof2forever
05-24-2007, 05:30 PM
I agree with planning a menu. $3 a meal per person beats out going out to eat for $10+ per person. I actually have a repertoire for each day or thereabout. Weekends I have more time to cook so I choose new recipes, Mondays are taco nights, Tuesdays I serve a crockpot meal, Wednesday is stirfry, Thursday is spaghetti or vegetarian night, and so on. I do mix them up or change the menu often to prevent boredom.

I also have soup night or breakfast for dinner night to mix it up a bit. Soup can be easily made with leftover veggies and breakfast food like eggs, pancakes, and waffles are inexpensive if homemade.

OAMC, or once a month cooking, is also a huge money saver. My favorite website: http://snider.mardox.com/OAMC.htm Even mini sessions would be economical. I usually do OAMC during fall and winter when I am super busy with my classes, but I have more time since I take only a few classes now.

Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper so I try to use recipes that use less meat. Beans and legumes are healthier for you anyway.

Here are some websites to help you along:

www.savingdinner.com menu mailers by subscription, but there are some free sample recipes there

www.mycoupons.com check out the forums for couponing help

recipe websites like www.hillbillyhousewife.com where you can even make your own yogurt, http://www.bbonline.com/recipe/ for 'bed and breakfast' type recipes, http://www.copykatchat.com/ , www.tasteofhome.com , and www.recipegoldmine.com

:hippie:

Thanks for the info.

momof2forever
05-24-2007, 06:00 PM
I think a big part of saving $$ is also knowing what things cost to begin with. For instance, when Pathmark runs B1G1, I usually steer clear, b/c I know it actually comes out to more money per item than when the same item goes on sale. I save my coupons for items I use anyway, and when it is at the rockbottom prices.

I grew up in a house with my mom the couponer and refunder. Our garage was organized in a filing system for her "refunding" (rebates) and we were the family on the block with 12 boxes of cereal in the closet - and my brother, the vaccuum, ate it all!

I adapted her system for my family. I left a well-paying job to stay home with my daughter, and had to cut wherever possible. However, where my mom bought loads of processed crap (IMHO) I try to stick to more healthy options - organics when possible, whole grains, no processed foods, etc. If they are onsale and I have coupons, I do stock up.


To do this in the most cost effective manner, I do the following:

Of course, I have a store card and I shop the circular. When boneless chicken breast is $1.99/lb or under, guess what we eat? I buy a lot, repackage it and freeze some too.

I cook every day, and rarely eat out. This is the biggest $$ saver. I have a huge repertoire (sp?) of recipes for stuff I buy frequently (chicken, fish, bean-based meals) and I experiment so we aren't bored - Chinese dishes, Indian dishes, etc. I love www.allrecipes.com because they allow you to do an ingredients search where you can search by what you have on hand, and even eliminate things you don't have.

We have "planned-overs" where I will cook extra and freeze some for another time. Sometimes I take leftovers and make into totally new meals - a roast chicken will make quite a few meals.

We try to stay away from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and trans fats, so I am always stocked with baking staples. I use my bread machine to make whole wheat pizza dough and it makes great pizza and calzones. Mozzarella goes on sale for about $1.99 (plus coupons!) and it freezes very well. Ricotta goes on sale too, and stores well upside down in the fridge. Plain crushed tomatoes (very thin) makes a good sauce, as DD isn't a huge fan of sauce anyway.

I have a Pooh waffle iron, and make whole grain waffles every week for DD, and they freeze well. They are also amazingly good. I use this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Whole-Grain-Waffles/Detail.aspx

Also, if you belong to Costco, check them out - but you have to know your prices - not everything is cheaper. Chicken there is $2.79 a pound, so no bargain. But they do get in some great organic stuff (like juice boxes, which my daughter needs for preschool) and it is hit or miss. They also have fantastic prices on organic salad and other produce. No coupons allowed at Costco, other than their own.


So, bottom line is to know your prices, and decide what will work best for your family. That way you will know if you are really getting what you use for the best price.

Samantha


Thanks for all the great tips and advice.:banana:

5 at disney
05-29-2007, 09:37 PM
subbing

FoundMyPrince
05-30-2007, 12:54 AM
There have been many good examples of ways to save money on groceries. I've enjoyed reading formernyer's replies. I began working at this when I was pregnant with our first child and quit my job. I began to learn about refunding and it has changed our way of shopping for groceries/cleaning supplies, etc. Right now there is a form from Coors (no beer purchase required) that you get $25 back when you buy $50 in meat, plastic wear, ice, a cooler or a few other items. You don't have to buy everything - just $50 of something on the list. Who doesn't have time to save this much money?

Also, try me free items are great. There are items in the grocery store with a "try me free" offer attached or you can find forms on the internet to print. It's a great way to get a few freebies each month.

I get a lot of my coupons from coupon services on the internet. I check sale ads and head to the computer to see if I can get coupons for the good sales. If it's a great sale I'll buy 50 coupons for .07 or so each. If I can use the item before the expiration date, I'll keep it. Otherwise, we'll donate it to a local food pantry (tax write-off).

Some stores have their own rebate programs. CVS has a very popular one (we don't have a CVS here). Walgreen's is also good. Free items each month, and good sales otherwise.

My parents, MIL and SIL like what I do, but they say they don't have time. So, I send in offers in their names and they give me the checks. They often question how they are getting all these checks each month, but they don't want to do the offers for their own self. So, for every form or free offer, I do it four times.

Stockpiling has made a huge difference to our pantry. I don't buy one jar of sauce, I'll buy enough until it expires. (i.e. we have 30 jars of spaghetti sauce in the cabinet right now - good for another 18 months). If it's free or very cheap, why buy only one?

There are a couple good couponing or refunding sites on the net. They list great deals that I wouldn't always find on my own. It's kind of a neat little underground of folks. Kind of like Disney - you don't know who all the Disney nuts are until you find a board like DIS. Same goes for coupon nuts - there are a lot of them out there! I'm always learning more on how to save money and how to make the most of what we have.

Mcqueen Fans
05-30-2007, 11:55 AM
There have been many good examples of ways to save money on groceries. I've enjoyed reading formernyer's replies. I began working at this when I was pregnant with our first child and quit my job. I began to learn about refunding and it has changed our way of shopping for groceries/cleaning supplies, etc. Right now there is a form from Coors (no beer purchase required) that you get $25 back when you buy $50 in meat, plastic wear, ice, a cooler or a few other items. You don't have to buy everything - just $50 of something on the list. Who doesn't have time to save this much money?

Also, try me free items are great. There are items in the grocery store with a "try me free" offer attached or you can find forms on the internet to print. It's a great way to get a few freebies each month.

I get a lot of my coupons from coupon services on the internet. I check sale ads and head to the computer to see if I can get coupons for the good sales. If it's a great sale I'll buy 50 coupons for .07 or so each. If I can use the item before the expiration date, I'll keep it. Otherwise, we'll donate it to a local food pantry (tax write-off).

Some stores have their own rebate programs. CVS has a very popular one (we don't have a CVS here). Walgreen's is also good. Free items each month, and good sales otherwise.

My parents, MIL and SIL like what I do, but they say they don't have time. So, I send in offers in their names and they give me the checks. They often question how they are getting all these checks each month, but they don't want to do the offers for their own self. So, for every form or free offer, I do it four times.

Stockpiling has made a huge difference to our pantry. I don't buy one jar of sauce, I'll buy enough until it expires. (i.e. we have 30 jars of spaghetti sauce in the cabinet right now - good for another 18 months). If it's free or very cheap, why buy only one?

There are a couple good couponing or refunding sites on the net. They list great deals that I wouldn't always find on my own. It's kind of a neat little underground of folks. Kind of like Disney - you don't know who all the Disney nuts are until you find a board like DIS. Same goes for coupon nuts - there are a lot of them out there! I'm always learning more on how to save money and how to make the most of what we have.

i love ready all this great ides to save money. We are trying to work on a budget right now. What are some of the web sites that have coupons on them. I really have never used coupons but really want to start. WE have to start spending os much money on food.

WeRblam
05-30-2007, 12:02 PM
I like the www.thecouponclippers.com They are fast, efficient and it helps support a SAHM.

She charges a modest fee to cover shipping and handling. I save more this way since I don't have to get the newspaper with coupons that I would never use. I go here and select the ones that I need and order through her site. Works for me!

FoundMyPrince
05-30-2007, 01:03 PM
I'm new at posting here and didn't know if it was alright to post links to other sites or not - so I didn't write down the coupon sites I use.

www.refundcents.com is a great site for refunding and couponing. It requires a password and username, and a fee for each year. There is also a magazine you can subscribe to. (I only have internet access) Honestly, you will learn so much from the site that it will more than pay for itself in a few weeks. The site is updated throughout the day - people write in from all over the country with the good deals they've found. There are also areas on the site to trade forms that you find, boxtops for education, upc's (all sorts of things). Sounds corny, but the site totally changed the way we spend money.

www.thecouponmaster.com is where I buy my coupons. Technically, you cannot "buy" coupons, but you pay them a fee for hunting for, sorting of, shipping and the service of sending the coupons. There is a fee per coupon and shipping.

www.ebay.com is a source of coupons, too. I will use this only occasionally. Usually they are more expensive than the coupon services.

http://www.mycoupons.com/boards/ is an okay site for coupon deals. It's free, but there doesn't seem to be much traffic on the site and doesn't have many deals listed.

http://www.freefrequentflyermiles.com/index.htm is a site that I use to gain free frequent flier miles. My family of 5 flew to Disney in 2005 and 2006 for only $40 (cost of booking the tickets). We fly about once a year and thought there was no hope of gaining enough miles to fly for free, but this site has all kinds of opportunities listed. Updated often.

http://www.bestdealmagazines.com/ is where we order all our magazines from. They have a cheap "deal of the day" listed daily (duh). Also, they frequently have 18% off codes emailed to customers. There is also a 15% off code: REFCENTS15

http://coupons.50webs.org/ has Target store coupons. Super Target coupons are good at regular Target stores, too. You can use a store coupon (like Target coupon) with a manufacturer coupon (big savings). Listed right now is a .50 coupon for the Target brand of bread (.99 here). So, .49 for a loaf of bread, buns, etc. Stock up - keeps well in the freezer. There is a .75 coupon for Heinz ketchup; there are also manufacturer coupons out there. I bought ketchup (big bottles) for .91 each. Not free, but much better than $2.75! The Target coupons change every couple weeks or so.

There are many manufacturers that will send you coupons when you sign up on their website. Google about any company and they will have a sign up for "good deals and offers" button someplace on their site.


There are also many offers posted on the internet. Here are a few:

Post It: http://www.mypostitsecret.com/offers/5613_3m_Brinker_Lauren.pdf

Oral B toothbrush: http://pics.drugstore.com/prodimg/promo/Coupon_Images/oral_b_082206.jpg?u1=280451-14-0-ARTICLE-0Old

Scotch Bright offer: http://www.3m.com/us/home_leisure/scotchbrite/tsoffer.html

Spray n Wash offer:
http://www.spraynwash.com/Stain_Challenge_2007.pdf

Lipton tea offer:
http://www.liptont.com/downloads/special_offers/Mastercard_Rewards_2007q1.pdf

Country Bob's free bottle of sauce coupon:
http://www.countrybobs.com/

Ritz cracker form:
http://www.nabiscoworld.com/ritz/moneybackguarantee/Refund_Offer_form.pdf

kinntj
05-30-2007, 01:13 PM
I'm not a coupon person, but I use a few for the items I buy alot of like the yogurt, etc.

One thing I'm starting this week (today actually) is to go to two different stores. We have a Meijer and Kroger right across the street from each other and I plan on getting their loss leaders and good sales items from each store. I'm not really using up extra gas to not make it worth the effort. On Tuesdays the ad comes for Kroger and Meijer's comes on Sunday in the paper. On Tuesdays I'll look at both papers and kinda meal plan in my head with the sale items and go shopping.

I keep the stapes fully stocked all the time. We have white rice and brown rice stocked all the time and we combine those for more nutritional value. I also buy lots of fruits and veggies every week; which is the bulk of our bill, but it's very healthy. Where I try to watch is on the meats and like someone else said, I sometimes buy the older marked down meats and make it that night, so it won't go bad. So tonight, we'll probably have some marked down meat meal with rice or potatoes and a salad.

We're not dessert eaters, so we don't worry about that and grab fruit when we want something sweet. We also have cut down on our grocery bill by not buying soda. Yep, we've completely cut it out and mainly drink water, milk and juice (on sale).

abeyst
05-30-2007, 02:41 PM
My Meijer ad has terms & conditions at the bottom that says:

"You can get double coupon savings this week at Meijer. Bring in your manufacturers '50 cents off' or less coupons and get double the savings. Items must be purchased in sizes and quantities specified. Limit 1 coupon per item. Limit of 2 identical coupons will double. Additional coupons for identical items will be redeemed at face value. Not to include retailer/tobacco products, Meijer custom coupons, free or coupons exceeding the item value.

So I guess that means if I find good deals at Meijer I can only buy 2 items if I want the coupons doubled? And I'm also not going to get additional money back if the coupon is more than the item I'm buying?

Kroger doesn't have this 'fine print' in their add, it just says they'll double coupons up to 50 cents. Does anyone know if they limit how many of the same item they'll double like Meijer does?

abeyst
05-30-2007, 02:49 PM
Are there stores where you can combine more than 1 coupon per item?

I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to buy 50 toothbrushes with 25 or 50 coupons without a big red flag going off with the cashier and not being allowed to do it.

goofyforlife
05-30-2007, 04:13 PM
I agree with your mother....WEGMAN'S? Yikes, their prices are about the highest around. I shop there only for specialty items or if I'm having a dinner party, etc.

It depends on which region you are in. The few years i lived in Williamsport, PA, we always shopped there. (except for side trips to Aldi's or to Sam's for meats) Ours had a sale flyer every week.

I don't have one here in MD but we do occasionally get to the one down in Sterling, VA. I love their store brands (and i'm really picky about that kind of thing) and we stock up on certain things i know they are the lowest price for.
I really like their produce which is usually reasonably priced and great quality from local producers.

Now i have visited a couple other VA stores and the Hunt Vly, MD store and their prices don't seem to be a good as we got in PA.

averysmom
05-30-2007, 06:34 PM
Make meat more of a condiment. Small amounts of meat will add flavour but not the fat, calories or cost of large amounts of meat.

Dawn

ITA with this. If a recipe calls for 3 chicken breasts, I put in 2. If it calls for 2 pounds of meat, I put in 1. I just add extra veggies. It's better for you anyways!

Ally0005
05-30-2007, 08:58 PM
I got this one.

http://www.thecouponizer.com/

cancer_survivor_06
05-30-2007, 09:17 PM
We only have Walmart and two Winn-Dixie's in my small town. I would normally shop at walmart I would make one trip to the store and buy several different meal options I keep all the dry/canned/boxed foods in my pantry so I don't have to purchase that much that often I will usually only need to purchase meat during the week. For along time I was shopping at walmart, well why not it is one stop shopping but in the end that is what was giving me trouble I found myself in shoe department, electronics, childrens department, etc. I was spending the bulk of my money on neccessary items so I stopped shopping here I might go every three to six months. I have primarily started shopping at Winn-Dixie I signed up for the savings card that they have over the past two years w/ my card I have saved about 2000 dollars. They also have a baby rewards program that helps you save on baby food, diapers, formula and in addition you receive coupons. For the longest time I was getting coupons for 4.50 off of enfamil formula. I can honestly say the thing that has helped me to save money is by going to the store once a month to once every other month I shop every isle for everything. Each week I make a list of what we will have for dinner from that I make sure we have everything and then what I don't have I start my list which is usually only meat.

M 'n C
05-30-2007, 09:35 PM
Well I do a few things mentioned already -> I shop based on recipes and I shop whats on sale. Basically when I shop recipes I plan out what bf and I are going to eat in the next 2 or 3 weeks based on my different cookbooks and what we might feel like eating and I match these recipes we pick out to the ingredients we already have at home so basically I narrow it down to a few recipes where I have everything and only need to pick up one or two items.

I also have been trying to buy what's on sale. Like last night was the last night for Kroger's memorial day weekend sale. So knowing that I went in and bought hot dogs since they were B1G1 free and normally $4 a pack (sorry diet comes first then prices). I also found bratwursts which were buy 2 get 1 free since we eat them all the time and they are good for protein and the diet. And lastly I found chicken on manager's discount so I bought a few of those since otherwise chicken was about $8 a pack which is too much.

When there aren't very good sales at Kroger I just head to Walmart and HEB (they tend to have a bad ad circular so I can't always follow it). I try to limit my meat buying at walmart as its not always the best.

I also stretch out my meals by throwing in frozen peas and carrots into tuna helper and measuring out 1 cup measurements. When I do this I can get 7-8 servings instead of the 5 the package suggests. I also try to throw in extras to add in veggies/nutrition and stretch out recipes. Today I made hungarian goulash in the crockpot and instead of just doing the 1/2 a medium onion I just bought the cut up onion at kroger (8oz precut was less than 1 medium onion!), along with adding celery and a green bell pepper. It helped make the meal stretch a little farther.

I'm going to try tackling coupons next. I just haven't gotten there yet. :)

Ally0005
05-31-2007, 08:10 AM
Is Target cheaper than Walmart?
I shopped at Publix for years and spent to much money. When a Walmart was built I tried it and couldn't believe how much I saved.

FoundMyPrince
05-31-2007, 10:08 AM
Some items at our Target are cheaper, some are not. Target has some great coupons and WalMart doesn't have their own coupons. Also, Target has great, great clearance specials (clothes, toiletries, food, everything).