In the past week there has been some discussion on the Menus4Moms™ Yahoo Group about the Grocery Game (http://www.thegrocerygame.com/). I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my feelings on ways to grow your coupons savings while grocery shopping.
First, let me say that I have also used the Grocery Game on and off for the past couple of years. I have recently returned to AVID coupon shopping and have saved $841 using coupons since mid-March (net savings – reduced by the cost of Grocery Game, additional newspapers and coupons I have purchased online). I like the Grocery Game because it reminds me of any sales I may have missed while doing my own research. However, I dislike that they only update the site on Sundays when the new coupon inserts come out, which only gives me 3 days to work with their list (as my local grocery store starts sales on Wednesday). I also dislike the fact that they consistently leave items off the list that are on sale; for example, this week Eggo waffles are on sale at my local grocery store but it is no where on the list. Like I said, I do not count on them for all the deals but merely for things I may have overlooked.
My best couponing info now comes from http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ as it has forums that give advance notice of the sales at a variety of stores (grocery stores, drug stores, etc.) as well as regular discussion by other couponers on good deals they have received. They also have a coupon database where you can look up coupons to see when they were in an insert or where you might be able to find a printable coupon online. This site is also good for coupon newbies as there are LOTS of helps for getting started and how to maximize your savings with coupons!! I have learned much there!! Oh, and there is also an area to trade coupons.
The other thing I have learned with couponing is that you need to have more than 1 coupon to truly maximize your savings. The trick is to buy several of an item that is on sale and store it away (aka stockpile) until you need it. If cereal goes on sale every other month, you should use coupons and buy as many as you can reasonably afford and will use until the next sale (use 7 boxes in 2 months, then buy 7 if you can afford it); otherwise, if you only buy 1 box of cereal when it is on sale but then have to buy 6 more at full price before the next sale you haven’t maximized your savings. To help with this, I have a couple of friends that give me their coupon inserts from their Sunday paper plus I have the my own paper that I get; I also purchase a couple of newspapers from Kansas City (the nearest big city to us) as they have more coupons in their paper than we do in our local paper. I pay approximately $7.50 for newspapers each week but I save well above and beyond that so it is worth it.
Also, when there is a good deal at the grocery store, I order coupons from http://www.thecouponclippers.com/ and http://www.thecouponmaster.com/ [link broken] where you can buy coupons for approximately $.08 to $.10 each (minimum order of $3 plus approximately $1 for handling and postage fee); while that may sound funny to some, I can assure you that it is ALWAYS a good deal for me as long as I am ordering coupons that I will actually use. Recently I placed an order where my total cost for the coupons was $7.46 and for that I received 60 coupons with face-value savings of $51.25 (and even more for the coupons that will be doubled by my grocery store) – and that is well worth it to me!! I have also purchased coupons on ebay but they tend to be a bit pricier however it is a good source if you are looking for something specific that you cannot find elsewhere!
Other resources that have been very helpful to me are:
- http://www.couponmom.com/ as they have a database of coupon inserts where you can either look up coupons or look to see what coupons will be in the next inserts (they post Sunday’s coupons on Saturday afternoons so it is a great way to know if it is worth your money to purchase additional papers). PLUS they also have a list of deals at stores such as Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, CVS and Target as well as some grocery stores (depending on the area you live in) which include the sale price and any available coupons from recent inserts.
- http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ and http://centsibleshopper.blogspot.com/ and as they regularly list deals from CVS and Walgreens as well as other deals that they comes across. This has been a great source for great deals as well as freebies.
- For those that have the stores close to them, CVS and Walgreens are great places to get some amazing deals. They regularly have cereal on sale as well as beauty products, etc. I do not have a CVS locally but do shop at Walgreens regularly now to stock up on their deals. I have researched prices at my local stores so that I will know if something is really a deal or not.
- Other sources for coupons: http://www.coupons.com/, http://www.coupons.smartsource.com/;
http://www.bettycrocker.com/coupons-promotions/coupons/default.aspx; http://www.livebetteramerica.com/coupons as well as visiting company websites for products you purchase regularly as they sometimes list coupons on their sites.
No coupon discussion would be complete without the reminder that you need to use coupons correctly. For example, use the coupons for the item(s) stated on the coupons, do NOT copy coupons printed off the internet, using more than one coupon for the item purchased (i.e. purchased one box of cereal so can only use one mfg coupon), etc. as this is coupon fraud. For additional info on this, you can read this thread: http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/user-agreement-terms-conditions/109-coupon-fraud-what-how-does-apply-me-here-hcw.html [link broken].
Let me encourage anyone who is looking to save money on their groceries to consider coupons. At first it will take some time to set up a system for coupons that works for you, but once you do you will find that it doesn’t take a lot of time and it is really quite exhilarating to leave the grocery store with $100 worth of groceries for $20 or less and to know that several of the items you purchased were FREE!!! As I said, I have saved well over $800 in less than 2 months using coupons plus my grocery spending was down from what we usually spend. I have a great stockpile started and my cupboards, freezer and fridge are full with items we use regularly (I NEVER buy something just because I have a coupon, I only buy when it is a very good deal and then stock up). I also have a big box of free things that I will be donating to a local food bank.
©2008 Amy Strait. Reprinted with Permission.