Not everyone has the time to set up an elaborate coupon clipping system with a categorized binder. Not everyone can make four stops in one shopping trip to snag all the best deals. Does that mean it’s impossible to use any coupons and save money on groceries?
No, it’s not impossible.
I threw myself full force into couponing a few years ago, subscribing to the Sunday paper, meticulously clipping and categorizing each coupon in a big binder, keeping track of expiration dates and planning strategic shopping trips. I had the time and ended up saving $402.94 that first year.
Sometimes I walked out of the store with free toothpaste, mascara, shampoo or razors, but I always turned back and returned them after the alarms went off. Juuust kidding. With the right combination of coupons and discounts, freebies like that were entirely plausible after I got the hang of things.
Then, I had my second child.
Clipping coupons was like dumping Pop Rocks on my tongue. They crackled and fizzed in full force, and when the party died down, it was over. My kids are 18 months apart, so I knew there was no way I was going to haul two children in diapers around four grocery stores just to score the occasional tube of free toothpaste.
To the moms who stuck with mega couponing, who kept eating Pop Rocks and saving mega bucks and staring sidewise at a thousand tiny squares of paper to read expiration dates, I salute you.
The rest of you, don’t give up. Keep reading.
6 Ways to Save on Groceries without Extreme Couponing
1. Snag the in-store coupons – Stores like Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Meijer will print off coupons custom selected for your needs. Use them! If you have a Kroger membership card, then you should receive quarterly coupons in the mail for stuff you’ve bought in the past and may again. I love in-store coupons for three reasons:
- They’re usually worth a higher dollar value than manufacturer coupons
- They’re tailored to your shopping list
- They’re for practical items like bread, eggs, milk, produce, frozen veggies, and even organics. That’s all kinds of wonderful.
2. Designate a place in your purse for coupons – I get robbed by a cleptomaniac baby at least once a week, finding the contents of my purse strewn about the living room. There at the other end of the room is my son, holding my empty wallet and grinning.
If I didn’t have a designated place for my coupons, I’d never remember to bring them with me. It can be an envelope, checkbook ledger or wallet. I store my coupons in my deluxe cash envelope system where I keep my cards, checks, shopping list, and cash in one place (as long as my little purse thief doesn’t get itchy fingers).
To read more about why I use a cash envelope system, click here.
3. Snag an app – Target Cartwheel, Kroger coupons, and Meijer mPerks are all great examples of free downloadable apps where you can clip coupons at the touch of a button. The benefits are great.
- No tiny pieces of coupon clippings falling in between your couch cushions for the next three years or until you move.
- No hauling Big Bertha (the name I lovingly gave my coupon Trapper Keeper) to every store.
- No delays at the checkout lane.
4. Find manager’s specials – One of my favorite deals to find are manager’s specials, usually located near the back of the store or on the back end of an aisle. These products usually have some defect like a dent or a tear or an approaching expiration date, but they’re otherwise intact and can be snagged for a pretty deep discount.
5. Don’t write off stores that don’t accept coupons – After having my secondborn, I made it my mission to figure out how infrequently I could go to the grocery store. That led me to getting a Costco membership so that I could buy products in bulk. Even though Costco doesn’t take coupons, I’m continually satisfied with the money I save and for the quality products I find.
Aldi is another great example of a grocery store with mega deals but no coupons. They even just upped their game by removing artificial ingredients from their food!
6. Create price points – This has saved me money time and time again. As you study prices, figure out a price point you don’t want to go over and make that your standard.
For example, I try not to buy cereal or milk for more than $2.50. I try to only buy diapers when they’re on sale. The longer you practice these habits, the easier they become.
Which simple savings trick will you try? Tell us in the comments below.
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