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If you hate to clip coupons but still need to spend less on groceries, I will share some of my money saving tips with you. I am not an "extreme coupon user," but I have found many time and money saving ways to lower your food bill. In order to save the most money, you will need to clip some coupons in addition to trying some of the other tricks and tips outlined here.
Cutting down on your grocery bill can be done, but there is not a "one size fits all solution."
The average family spends about $7,000 a year on food and groceries and the cost continues to rapidly rise! How much do you spend? Take a few minutes to tally this up and you will be extremely motivated to try some new money-saving strategies! A casual coupon clipper can save $1,000 a year, while an organized one can save so much more. What would you do with a few thousand extra?
Here are 15 ideas. Try them and see which ones work best for you and keep chipping away at that grocery bill.
1. Make a meal plan for the week based upon what is going to be on sale at your grocery store. If you only do this step, you will save money! Look at your grocery store flyer each week and buy what is on sale. Plan one or two nights where you cook once and eat twice. You can cook a chicken or a roast and make two meals out of it. Pasta dishes are excellent dollar stretchers. Try going meatless one night a week.
2. Cook from your pantry and plan one or two meals a week with just the items you have on hand.
3. Keep track of what meals your family likes that are quick and frugal. If you will do this faithfully, you won't have to figure out what is for dinner at 5 pm or "drive- thru" to get dinner. Try using a calendar or an online calendar to plan your meals based upon your schedule and the kids schedule. Find some slow cooker recipes to put into the rotation. If you have left-overs, search online for recipes by searching "easy recipe for (insert your leftover).
4. Get organized at home before you go grocery shopping. The quicker you can get in and out of the store, the more money you will save. Don't wait until you are in the grocery store to wander the aisles and figure out what you need.
5. Use technology to help you to plan your shopping trip. Start a master list on a word processing program or in your cellphone. Don't rewrite your list every time you shop. Improve your master list continually by adding a "buy now' price when you know you should be stocking up. If you have a coupon, jot down the coupon details next to the item on your list so you don't have to shuffle through your coupons in the store.
6. Learn the layout of your grocery store. Often you can print a map from the store's website. Make your master shopping list by aisles of your store for faster and more organized shopping.
7. Don't clip coupons for items that you do not buy. Be selective. You can start with one area of the shopping list like cleaning supplies or toiletries and just clip coupons for those items. See how this works for you and then add another category when you get more proficient. If you are buying diapers, you must use coupons and buy diapers on sale! I always ask my coupon-clipping readers to clip and leave coupons in the store next to the diapers as a small way to bless someones day!
8. Find an organizing system for your coupons that works for you. I use one envelope for each aisle of the store and put the matching coupons in that envelope. Some people prefer a binder or a coupon holder. I keep my coupons in the car so I always have them for those quick trips. I reorganize and purge them when I need to wait. This keeps the coupons that I have on hand fresh in my mind.
9. Put your kids in charge! If your kids are old enough, pawn off the job of clipping and organizing the coupons. Split the savings with them and call it their allowance. Think of all the lessons you can incorporate by including them in the meal planning, price comparing, and the money-stretching needed to run a household.
10. Learn the coupon policies at the stores that you shop at. Do they double or triple coupons? Do they accept competitors coupons? Can you combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon? Do they have a rain check policy? Is there a limit to how many coupons that you can use in one transaction? If the coupon policy is found on their website, print it out and always have it with you in case you try to check out with a store employee who does not know the store policy. Trust me, this does happen.
11. Stockpile the non-perishable items that you will use for the next 3 months. When you see a great deal, get your coupons and buy 3 months worth of toothpaste, deodorant, pasta, etc. You can keep a running list of what you have in your stockpile on your master list. Note the price you paid on your master list so you can refer back to it.
12. Pick one drug store, CVS, RiteAid or Walgreens and follow their sales and use coupons to match up with a sale. You can save so much money on your toiletries, beauty products, paper products, OTC medicines, and more when you shop this way. You can get items for free and items that you can donate to your local shelter by shopping smarter at the drugstores. Every week I do the work for you. You can visit my blog, More With Less Today and use the search bar to type in your favorite drugstore and see the best items to buy and where to find the coupons to use.
13. If shop at a big box wholesale club and feel like you are spending too much money, you must take the time to see if you can save more money buying some of these items elsewhere. Not everything purchased at these warehouse stores is a bargain. Sometimes we find ourselves consuming more because we have more, or throwing out perishable items because the quantity is too large.
14. Try if at all possible, to leave the kids at home unless they have become highly trained bargain shoppers with a vested interest in saving money. You need to focus and have your wits about you.
15. Set a goal for saving a certain amount of money on your grocery bill and then plan a special family activity with the some of the savings. I recommend getting everyone involved in the process. Make a prop to continually track your progress to keep everyone motivated.
I invite you to visit my free blog, More With Less Today where you can find these ideas and many more! Please share your great tips too for the benefit of everyone! Stay tuned for more money-saving tips and strategies. Together we can find more ways to stretch our dollars!
Lori Felix is an empty-nester who uses her new found free time to share money-saving tips, strategies, and reader-tested new ideas with her readers at More With Less Today. Her blog has been featured in several national publications, TV and newspapers. Lori says she is not the best cook or housekeeper, but her super-power is spotting a bargain and never paying full price!
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