WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

8 Steps to Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half

Posted May 31, 2016
Updated June 1, 2016


Want to buy much more for less? Imagine filling your cart with your favorite groceries, but only paying a fraction of the total cost.

By mastering these eight essential techniques, every shopper who buys groceries can get the most out of their hard-earned money.

Learn the art of couponing

Smart shoppers know, without question, that using coupons wisely is the greatest money-saving technique when it comes to buying groceries. They know how, when and where to use those little pieces of "paper gold" and they know just where to find the best coupons for the products they prefer to buy. Their coupons are well-organized and accessible so they don’t ever miss an unadvertised sale. Smart shoppers pay for a good portion of their groceries using coupons and save more than 50% off their weekly budgets each and every week. They apply their coupon savings to offset the cost of typically non-coupon products like produce, dairy and meat. Click on the Frugal Living and Couponing link above for a series of articles on Couponing 101.

Compare apples to apples

How do you know whether something is really a bargain just because it is on sale? By developing a Price Book, you are able to compare the price per unit of one size package to another. This allows you to compare the 200-ounce box of warehouse club bran cereal to the 18-ounce bag of the same type of cereal from the grocery store. Smart spenders know the surprising news that often the smaller container is less expensive per unit than the bulk container when used in conjunction with coupons and sales. You can see my entire price book for groceries in the Raleigh, NC area on my WRAL-TV blog at the Price Book link above.

Gain leverage from sales flyers and deal lists

By reviewing the sales flyers and lists of deals here on the blog each week, you can plan your weekly menu, decide where to shop, determine what to include on your grocery list, and choose the best money-saving coupons to use at the store. Smart spenders realize that the key to the greatest savings is purchasing the best sale items listed in the weekly flyers and then using coupons for those items. You can use the list of best deals we publish here on the Smart Shopper blog to help you find the loss leaders and best stock up buys. Without a doubt, your willingness to go to more than one store during the week will save you more money. You don't have to go to every store, but adding the bets deals from 1 extra grocery store to your weekly shopping trips can save you $25 - $50 every week. That's a savings of $1,300 - $2,600 per year! I bet you would love to have an extra thousand dollars or more at the end of every year.

Be a proud card-carrying member

Sign up for the frequent shopper rewards cards at the stores you shop. Without them, you won’t be offered the sale prices or special incentives and you may lose out on thousands of dollars in savings a year. Most grocery and drug stores offer digital and printable coupons to reward card members and many will even mail money-saving coupons to members throughout the year. Smart shoppers take advantage of the sale prices by using their rewards cards every time they shop.

Refuse to be overcharged

Many grocery stores carry 30,000 or more items. It is not hard to imagine that there may be a price mistake or two at the register. Before you leave the store, thoroughly review your receipt to make sure you weren’t overcharged. If you discover an overcharge, head straight to customer service and explain the error. Many stores have a price scan guarantee, which means that you will receive the entire cost you paid for the item and get to keep the product. Yes, this means you will take home the product for free! Smart spenders never leave the store without reviewing the receipt and requesting the price scan guarantee, when applicable.

Enjoy delayed gratification

Yes, it’s just what you were thinking. Rebates and cash back sites. You buy an item that offers a rebate or cash back refund, fill out the form exactly as required or scan the receipts (if required) and after a short delay, you get your money back. If you are thinking that it doesn’t sound so difficult, you are right! Surprisingly, many people don’t take advantage of the amazing rebates available for everything from beef to toothpaste to pasta. Smart spenders recognize that the savings opportunities are huge with the cash back sites like Savingstar.com, and ibotta.com, and Checkout51.com, as well as Mobisave.com and Berrycart.com. See a list of sites and explanations as to how each one works at the New May Printable Coupons link above.

Stick to your strategy and avoid the tactics

Do you smell the fresh cookies baking in the deli? Did you taste those free samples of cereal when you walked into the store? Welcome to the world of store tactics. Their job is to make money marketing the products they sell. Your job is to steer clear of the tactics and stick to your grocery list. Don’t be enticed by the sale signs when you know something isn’t a good deal. Don’t go to the store hungry and don’t impulse-shop (unless it’s a good unadvertised buy, of course!). Smart spenders come prepared to shop for the items that will save them the most money and they avoid the clever methods designed to persuade you to part with more of your paycheck than you should.

These aren’t the only money-saving techniques used by the shopping experts, but they are the basis for the very best buys.

Although many of you are experienced couponers, feel free to share this article with your friends who are just getting started or those hoping to increase their coupon savings.

For the next few weeks, I'll be diving into the topics above as we discuss them in more detail.

Please share your favorite money saving techniques for groceries and non-food essentials.

As I always say: It's your money - spend it wisely!

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  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Jun 1, 2016

    Thanks for the feedback and shares everyone!

    vlynn - what a great example of saving in other ways. It makes such a difference to time clothes shopping to get the very best deals.

    Em2s - Fantastic job on increasing your savings and your donations! And thanks for your sweet comments. :-)

    We'll dive into each of the 8 techniques in more depth in the coming weeks, and I look forward to reading all of your favorite savings techniques.

  • jdouglas13 May 31, 2016

    Great article. I shared it on my FB page. Thanks! :)

  • Em2s May 31, 2016

    Vlynn - very true!

  • vlynn May 31, 2016

    Hey Faye, what a great synopsis of saving! It can be hard for newbies because everyone is so used to instant gratification, but it definitely pays off big time if you can stick to it. Also, these techniques can be used for everything. I recently had to explain to my brother why he was getting long sleeve shirts instead of short sleeve ones---because the $45 - $60 winter shirts were $4-$6 dollars and the summer short sleeve ones were $45-$60. He'll get the summer ones when they go on sale! Once you learn the way of the deal, you can never go back!

  • Em2s May 31, 2016

    Faye - This is a great article that will be shared with family and friends. I had used coupons off and on - even shopping more than one store for advertised specials. However, applying these techniques, learned in one of your couponing classes, then following the great posts on this blog from you and others in this blog community, has greatly increased my grocery savings (50% to 80% a week) -- and made it possible to give more generously to local charities including items acquired through smart shopping. What a significant difference in our budget and quality of living!

    I'm grateful for the many ways you share your knowledge and regularly communicate events and specials for stores and manufacturers - and for maintaining this blog where folks in the community also generously post their deals!