Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Hobby: Strategic Shopping Part 1


I already have plenty of hobbies. There is scrapbooking, photography, reading, travel, baking, and crafting. I added another hobby to the list, Strategic Shopping.

You may have seen the show "Extreme Couponing." In that show,people buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for under $10.  That is not me. I do like to save money. I have reached between 25% to 50% savings on my grocery bill. Unlike those "Extreme Couponng" people, I am not filling my cart with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper or tons of mustard, just because it is a good deal. I don't have a huge stockpile of items. I am not hording stuff. I have about five cans of pasta sauce, three bottles of body wash, and two bottles of laundry detergent. Just enough on hand to replace the items that we use on a regular basis. 

A few people have asked me for some of my savings tips. So here are a few tips I use to save!

1. Read Your Store Flyers
 Get a hold of your local areas grocery store flyers. I shop pretty consistently at Kroger, but I do also look at flyers for ALDI and Remke. Don't forget to look at flyers for KMart, Walmart, and Target. Good deals can be found there as well. Most grocery stores and discount stores offer their  weekly flyers online at their website. Get on their e-mail list and they will send their sale ads directly to you. 

2.Join Store Loyalty Club
I know it can be a pain to fill out all those information cards at the store. Those three minutes it takes to fill out the card can translate to lots of savings. In my local area Kroger and Remke offer discounts on gas for shopping in their stores. Bonus savings! Yahoo! Kroger also sends personalized coupons to me in the mail based on the products that I buy. Some stores even have electronic coupons that you can add directly onto your loyalty club card. When you purchase the items and scan your card, the savings come off directly at the register. 

3. Plan your Meal
Each week I plan my meals. I look through my cupboards, fridge, and freezer to see what items I have on hand. I compiled a list of meals that my husband and I enjoy eating. A few times a month I try a new recipe and add it to the list if we enjoyed it. 

Each week,I look on our schedule to see what events we have coming up and plan meals accordingly. On Tuesdays my husband works the late shift. Usually a crock pot meal is planned for that day. I can pop it in before I leave for work and it is ready before my husband  leaves for work! On Wednesday we have small group at church, I plan a simple dinner of sandwiches or salad on that night. 

Planning meals is very helpful. You don't have to think about what to serve for dinner, the decisions have already been made. This will cut down on extra trips to the grocery store or through the fast food line.

4. Combine Sales and Coupons for Savings
Combing sales and coupons can mean big savings for you.For example, a few week ago a name brand laundry detergent was on sale at CVS for $1.98. That is a HUGE deal to begin with. Then I also had a $1.00 off coupon for the same laundry detergent. That means I got a full size, name brand laundry detergent for $.98 plus a little tax! That is a great deal. 

You might be saying, "I don't have time to look through all my coupons and all the flyers to do the match ups!" You don't have to! There are plenty of websites that do that work for you. 

                 Coupon Mom: She offers a coupon deal site divided by state and 
                store. So you can search your local store. She also offers the 
                coupon/sale matchups for national chains such as Walmart,
                Target, CVS, and Walgreens. 

                Cincinnati Coupons: This site offers local store matchups. She
                also posts online deals and freebies! 

                Money Saving Mom: This site offers coupon matchups, recipes, 
                money saving tips, and fun ideas.

5. Don't Clip Coupons
Coupons are a big part of my savings plan, but I don't clip them all and try to organize them. I just don't have the time to do that. So each Sunday when I get the the paper, I take out the coupon inserts, write the date on top and put them in my coupon drawer. That is it!

Each week I go to the coupon match up sites to see what items I might want to purchase. For example the website will look something like this:
              Old Spice
              $1.00 off/1 item (PG 5/1/11)

So if I want to purchase Old Spice, I will look in my P &  G coupon inserts for May 1st, 2011 for that coupon. Easy! Easy! Easy! That way I am not spending hours clipping and organizing coupons. Just clip what I need.

There are three main coupon inserts. There is Red Plum, Smart Source, and P&G.  Most of the websites will use the following abbreviations for the coupons: RP(Red Plumb) SS(Smart Source) and PG (Proctor and Gamble). 

That is the end of part 1. Be on the lookout for part 2!

:D Emily

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