I don’t shop at multiple stores. I don’t spend hours searching for the best deal. I don’t spend time price-matching. I’m a busy mom, I don’t have time for all that. It takes me less than 1 hour a week to save 28% on my groceries. You can totally start using my system today! It’s easy peasy.
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My husband just finished his university degree. Which is AMAZING because it’s been a really hard 3 years for all of us. But now we are facing the mountain of student debt and it’s threatening to crush us. Yikes.
We’ve developed a strict budget and one of my main contributions is making sure we stay on budget for groceries. It’s no easy task. Food is expensive! It breaks my heart that it would be way cheaper for me to feed my family junk food than real food. But that’s a rant for another day.
I’ve accepted the challenges and developed a system that is working really well to keep us under budget every week by saving an average of 28% on our weekly grocery bill. I mean, it’s no ‘Extreme Couponing’ type of savings, but it’s realistic & maintainable and takes me less than 1 hour of prep to accomplish.
Shop the Sales
I don’t shop at multiple stores. I have one store that I shop at every week. I have neither the time nor the energy to drag my boys to more than one store. The main thing I do is that I never pay full price for anything. (ok, that’s a tiny fib, I pay full price for milk, but that’s it.)
Say it with me: Never pay full price for ANYTHING!
If it’s not on sale, it does not go in my cart.
I do this by reviewing the weekly flyer and making a list. When I make my list, I include the sale price. That way when I get to the store I know exactly which items I’m after. No more grabbing the first loaf of bread I see, I have to search for the brand that’s on sale.
I use a handy app called Flipp to get the weekly flyers. All the flyers of all my local stores are right there in my phone. The app is free, and I don’t have to recycle all kinds of paper. Win!
I save about 20% by shopping the sales and being flexible in my choices.
Forget Brand Loyalty
I used to be committed to certain brands and I would not let any competing or discount brand into my house. I was so young and naive, lol.
I began to realize that certain products are exactly the same, no matter what the brand name is. There’s only one way to make butter, so the discount butter is exactly the same as the brand name butter. Buy the cheap butter.
Of course there are always some products that are inferior in the discount brand. Don’t buy those. Wait for the good stuff to go on sale.
Be willing to try to different brands in the name of saving a buck.
Now I don’t mean that you should go fill your garage with shelves of canned beans and cleaning products that would take you a lifetime to use up. That’s just silly.
I just mean that if you see a really really good price on something, but 2 or 3 of it. Last week I saw chicken burgers on sale for $4.99 down from $11.99, so I bought 2 boxes!
Yup, I went there. But I have a few guidelines for using coupons.
Firstly, just use coupons on products that you typically already buy. (Or on an alternate brand of the same product.) You won’t be saving anything if you use a coupon on a product that’s just going to sit in your cupboard for the next 10 years.
Secondly, save your coupons to use when the item goes on sale. That way you’re practically doubling your savings. Some people mistakingly believe that you can only use coupons on full price items. Not so.
I save about 4% using coupons.
Sometimes you can request coupons directly from the company, but usually only once a year. Also, check the weekly flyer for coupons. These sites are where I typically get my coupons:
Oh boy do I love my rebate app! I use Checkout 51 and it’s totally free to use. All you do is check the week’s offers (they change weekly), purchase an item on the list, upload your receipt and you’ll be credited with cash back! Once you have accumulated $20 you can request a cheque.
I’ve collected cash back on bread, eggs, berries, snacks and dishwasher soap! They have really great offers!
I save about $20/month using Checkout 51. It’s really easy and I typically see the amount get credited to my balance within a couple hours of submitting my receipt. Every little bit counts!
Know Your Store’s Policies
Familiarize yourself with your store’s coupon policies. There’s always that one cashier that tries to tell you that you can’t use your coupon. Hold your ground and ask for a manager.
My grocery store has a policy that if an item rings in at the wrong price, you get the item for free up to a maximum of $10. This is another reason to have the prices written out on your grocery list. Many cashiers don’t know of this policy. So watch everything as it rings in and be prepared to ask for your freebie.
Check if your store has a price-matching policy. Mine does not. But I have done price-matching in the past. Once you get past the intimidation factor of being ‘that customer’ it’s actually really easy. You just have to show the cashier the competition’s flyer indicating the cheaper price. Then you’ll get charged the cheaper price.
Tell me, what are your tricks for saving money on groceries? It’s so hard to find the balance between needing to save money and how much time it will cost to do so!
Add your tips in the comments!