If you’re working on spending less on your grocery bill, a weekly menu plan and coordinating shopping list is a great place to start. Just doing those two things alone can help you to cut your grocery spending in a big way. If you want to save even more money on your grocery budget, using coupons on the things you normally buy is a smart way to do just that.
If you’ve ever watched those extreme coupon shows, you know that done right, using coupons for groceries can get your grocery bill down so low it’s ridiculous. I watched one woman on Extreme Couponing walk out of a grocery store with $257 in groceries for one penny!
But even if you don’t want to go extreme, you can still save bundles of cash by using coupons on things you already purchase. Here are ten places where you can find the coupons that will help you save extra cash on both grocery and personal products you buy every week.
More and more manufacturers are using Internet printable web sites for sharing coupons with customers and potential customers. You will find that some sites will have you sign up in order to print their coupons, but other sites such as Coupons.com and Redplum will allow you to print out coupons without having to sign up. Also, some printable coupon sites will ask you to install a coupon printer on your device in order to be able to print their coupons, but it’s usually a pretty simple and quick process to do so.
Direct From the Manufacturer
Many product manufacturers have web sites that will allow you to sign up for emails sharing coupons for their products. Go through your cupboards, make a list of the products you use on a regular basis and the companies that make those products. Then google the company names on the net and go directly to the company web site. The company should have a community or coupon area that will allow you to sign up to receive special offers right in your email inbox.
I mentioned Coupons.com briefly before but wanted to give you a more thorough heads up of how they work. We don’t buy a lot of name brand products so I didn’t think a site like Coupons.com would be able to do much for our already-low grocery bill. But within five minutes I was printing out coupons for products we use every day such as razors, feminine products, toothpaste and cleaning products. The process was super easy (just click on the coupons you want and then click on the Print Coupons box when you’re done) and I loved the site was free and that I didn’t have to sign up in order to use them.
You almost can’t beat the Sunday paper for great coupon offers. Having the newspaper delivered to your home or apartment is the easiest and best option for a few reasons. First, the money you’ll save by using the coupons in the paper will more than pay for the newspaper subscription, second, the convenience aspect will save you money and you won’t waste gas going to get the paper each week, and third, often times manufacturers of newspaper coupon inserts (especially where local store coupons are concerned) will only put the coupons in delivered newspapers and not in the newspapers you’ll find at the stores.
You’ll usually find three big name coupon manufacturers in the Sunday paper: SmartSource, RedPlum and Proctor & Gamble. All three of these manufacturers provide coupons for dozens of products you likely use every day.
If you can’t or don’t want to have the paper delivered directly to your house, ask family members or friends if they’ll save their unused or unwanted Sunday newspaper coupons for you.
Directly on Products
Go through the grocery aisles at your favorite store and keep your eyes open for coupons that are directly attached to the products they have for sale. Sometimes the coupons are attached like stickers to the front of the product, and other times they’re hooked on the cap like a necklace. Make sure to tear off the coupons as you put the products in your cart, as the cashier won’t automatically scan them.
Purchase Coupons Online
Websites such as Coupon Dede’s, Coupon Clippers and Klip2Save offer coupons that you can purchase online for a small price or handling fee. Usually the price or fee attached to the coupon is pretty small compared to the value of the coupon, but it’s always a good idea to check just in case.
Also, some companies that sell the coupons will send them via email, but most send the actual coupon to you via the U.S. Postal Service or some other shipping company, and there are shipping and handling fees if the company you’re using ships the coupons directly to your house. Be sure to factor any shipping and handling costs as well as the purchase price into the overall savings of the coupons you are using before you use sites that charge for coupons.
Almost all magazines are filled with product ads that often include recipes as well as coupons for the product or products needed to make the recipe. Search the magazines that are mailed directly to your house for coupons on products you use.
As with newspapers, you can also ask family and/or friends to share magazines when they’re finished reading them so that you can use the coupons available in the magazines if they’re not going to use them.
Tear-pads or Blinkies
Many grocery and big box stores also use other methods to provide manufacturer coupons to shopping customers. Often times you’ll find a tear-pad (a stack of coupons bound together and attached to the shelf that holds the coordinating product) or a blinkie (the plastic boxes with the red blinking lights and pop-up coupons that are attached to the shelf that holds the coordinating product) displayed near the products you use. Take advantage of these types of coupons when they’re for products you use regularly or on special occasions such as holidays.
Weekly Grocery Store Ad
Local stores everywhere send out weekly grocery ads that advertise their grocery specials for the week and offer coupons on products as well. The first thing we do when we are getting ready to make our weekly menu and shopping list is to go through the weekly grocery store ads that come to the house so that we can coordinate our meals with what’s on sale that week.
Also, many stores have coupon baskets or cubbies right in the store that you can check through for money saving coupons before you start shopping.
Online sign ups, direct mail promotions and in-store promotions often offer free samples of new products or of products that manufactures want to boost sales on. Although the free product might not seem too interesting to you, double-check before you pass it by or toss it in the trash: many free samples have coupons attached that will save you money on that product or on a similar product that the company manufactures.
How to Make the Most of Coupon Savings
It’s always good to use coupons to save money, but there are extra little tips that those crazy extreme couponers use to maximize their coupon savings as they shop.
Organize Your Coupons
The more organized your coupons are, the easier it will be to shop and to save. Organize your coupons both by product section at the store you shop at most, and by expiration date. If you’ve got a system down for organizing your coupons, you’ll save time at the grocery store and you’ll be sure to use the coupons before they pass the expiration date.
Plan Your Grocery Menu Around the Coupons You Have
When we’re going through the available coupons for the week, we plan our menu around the sales and coupons that are available. For instance, if there’s a coupon in the weekly store ad for potatoes, we make several meals with different kinds of potatoes. If we have tomato sauce coupons we’ll plan things like chili and spaghetti for dinner that week.
Only Save Coupons on Items You Buy Anyway
One downfall that can happen with coupon shopping is that it can lure people into buying types of products that they wouldn’t normally spend their money on. Keep this in the back of your mind as you choose which coupons to clip and save, and which to throw out or pass along to someone else. For instance, if you normally bake all of your cookies from scratch, don’t be lured into buying pre-packaged cookies just because you’ve got a coupon. If you don’t have a specific reason for buying them – such as a school event where they’re asking you to bring only pre-packaged items – consider leaving them on the shelf.
Take Advantage of Double Coupon Days
Some grocery stores and pharmacy stores such as CVS offer double coupon days, and some stores will also allow you to use more than one coupon on the same item. Keep track of these things as you shop with coupons so that you can maximize savings and take advantage of extra savings where available.
Stock Up on Non-Perishables or Freezable Items
If a coupon is for a non-perishable item you use on a regular basis, consider using multiple coupons or buying the limit on store coupons in order to save money. In our house we eat a certain brand of pasta sauce on a pretty regular basis. The normal price for the sauce is $1.42 per jar, but every once in a while we’ll find a store coupon or manufacturer coupon that offers the sauce for $1.25 or even $1.00 a jar.
When that happens, we usually buy a good three to six months’ worth of pasta sauces. This might seem counter-intuitive because you’re spending more at the outset, but you’ll save a ton of cash on your annual grocery bill.
You can also use this technique to stock up on frozen foods if you have a chest freezer. We’ve done this before with frozen pizza and pizza snacks. We’ll also on occasion buy our favorite baguette bread from the bakery section when it goes on sale and stock up a dozen loaves or more by freezing them.
Most breads freeze pretty well, so when you find a store or manufacturer’s coupon on your favorite bread or baked good, stock up if you have the space in your freezer.
Isn’t Using Coupons Time Consuming?
The short answer is “no”. This is a common question people ask when they’ve not yet learned the value in using coupons, but couponing does not have to take up a lot of time if you don’t want it to. Here are some tips you can use for using coupons a quick and easy part of your regular shopping routine.
Pick Your Favorite Coupon Sources
Our three favorite coupon sources are the weekly grocery store ads, Coupons.com, and the Sunday newspaper. In order to minimize the time we spend searching for coupons, we use these three sources the most and don’t spend much time on the rest. Now that you’ve got an abundant list of coupon resources through this post, pick the ones that you find easiest to use, and make them the focus of your coupon savings.
Set Aside Time Each Week
We set aside twenty to thirty minutes each week to use the three coupon sources we like best and take advantage of the coupons they offer that will save us money on things we already buy. We try to coordinate this time with the time we set aside to make our weekly menu and grocery shopping list. Then we hit the store and get things done, saving big time cash in the process.
Once you’ve got a system down you’ll find that using coupons takes very little time in comparison to the money you’ll be saving.
There are many creative ways to save money on groceries, but don’t overlook coupons as one of the main ways to help you save big money on your grocery bill.
What are your favorite sources for coupons? What other tips do you have for saving money on groceries?