Let’s face it–food is expensive. The average family spends just over 10% of their household income buying groceries–over $6,000 a year–and even while average wages have gone down, the price of food keeps going up. When you are just trying to feed your family, that is a pretty scary prospect.
That said, as more and more people are beginning to realize, coupons can be a great way to save money on food. If you’ve ever watched TLC’s Extreme Couponing, you probably already know that sometimes those savings can be quite dramatic. The problem is that those dramatic savings often come from seasoned coupon users who have spent countless hours clipping & sorting coupons and searching for the very best deals.
Quite frankly, who has time for that?
Like anything in life, you have to find the right balance. That balance won’t be exactly the same for everyone, but there are 5 tips I shared that everyone should know:
1. It’s not about the coupons
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that the producers of TLC’s Extreme Couponing (and every food company and grocery store chain out there) don’t really want you to know: Extreme grocery savings do NOT, for the most part, come from the coupons. The bulk of your savings will come from the store sales. The better the promotion, the bigger the savings, so the FIRST step in saving money on your grocery bill is to SHOP THE SALES.
Thus, your goal from now on is to only EVER buy an item when it is at its lowest price. Period.
2. Stockpile, stockpile, stockpile
In order to only ever buy an item at its lowest price, you must buy enough of it while it is on sale to last until it goes on sale again. This is key. Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, which means you need to buy enough to last your family that long. If you buy only a weeks worth, you will be forced to pay more the next time you need it because you didn’t buy enough.
3. Eat less meat
Going vegetarian just a couple times a week could save you as much as $1,000 a year. Meat costs usually account for a significant portion of people’s grocery bills, so cutting out even a little will make a big difference over time. One of the ways my own family has kept our grocery bill to around $200-300 a month is by eating very little meat and honestly I am shocked at the prices whenever I do buy meat!
4. Change the way you meal plan
If you normally wing it when it comes to meal planning, running to the store several times a week for last-minute dinner items, this step won’t be as painful as you might think. Instead of running to the store for your dinner supplies you’ll be able to run to your stockpile–a ready-made grocery store right in your own home. You may even find that maintaining a nice, varied stockpile by shopping the sales once a week saves you a whole lot of time, in addition to saving you from the expensive impulse and last-minute buys.
5. Learn to match coupons to store sales
It is not by accident that using coupons is the last item on this list and not the first. Coupons can and do save you a ton of money on your grocery bill, but only if you follow these other steps first. When and if you make these changes in the way you shop–getting into the habit of shopping for only what’s on sale, buying enough to last your family 6-8 weeks, eating less meat, and planning your meals around your stockpile and what’s on sale–you will see a dramatic drop in your grocery bill, even without clipping a single coupon.
The important thing to remember is that coupons come last, not first. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon–manufacturer’s count on that! Wait for the sale, then use the coupon. Changing old patterns and shopping habits is never easy, but with these simple changes you really can cut your grocery bill in half.
Just think of what you could do with an extra $75 a week!
For the complete article, go here.