Learn the Secrets of Couponing This Wednesday (2/9/11)

CouponsSusan Miller and Felicia Bua have slashed their grocery bills in half (or more) using coupons effectively. I can also attest that I usually get my groceries for 50%-60% less than full price, using coupons. It takes a little planning and understanding of the system, but just about anyone can get these kinds of savings. There are a few situations, such as special diets and such, where couponing may not help you.  But the vast majority of people can see huge savings without changing your eating patterns.

Susan and Felicia are hosting a Coupon Extravaganza this Wednesday evening at Beef O’Brady’s in Boone. Learn their secrets, ask questions, and have lots of fun! Here is how they describe their event:

Have you always wanted to learn tips and tricks to using coupons? Interested in cutting your grocery bill in half!? Do you like getting stuff for FREE? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need to join us for Coupon Extravaganza!!! Join Susan Miller and Felicia Bua for a night of coupon swapping secrets. Come on out to Beef O Brady’s on Wednesday, February 9 from 5:30 to 7:00 to hear all the details. This is a FREE event. Please bring friends and family and you can treat yourself to dinner if you like.

Remember to bring all your coupons and organizers if you have them. Bring pen and paper so you can take notes! Write down at least 1 question that you want answered!  Bring any coupons that you don’t want…..there will be a table for a coupon swap! Dinner will be your treat if you like.

You can also see many of my grocery tips in out Coupons 101 section on the Mom Squad!

Money-Saving Grocery Tips!

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#1 Use Coupons Effectively
Clip anything you think you might use. You never know if it will go on sale, and you can get it for free or almost free.

• Be thorough and specific in your coupon categories.

In my first coupon container are: Beverages, Breakfast, Canned Foods, Desserts/Snacks, Grocery, Sauces/Dressings, Refrigerated, Frozen, Rainchecks.

In the second are: Make-up, Soap/Deoderant, Hair, Shaving/Feminine, Cleaners, Laundry, Paper/Plastic Products, Drugs, Teeth, Batteries, Lotion

Use a service, like www.thegrocerygame.com (my GG email is singforhim94 gmail) or www.couponmom.com to help determine when to use the coupons. These websites track the store sales to help you make the most of coupon/sale combinations. They are a HUGE time-saver! Click here for The Grocery Game, Start to Finish

If you don’t want to use these websites, you can make a “price journal” tracking the sales of the products you use, so you can tell if a sale is “rock bottom”

Get rainchecks!! You may want it now, but you’ll proabably want it later, too, and you may as well get the sale price!

Stockpile when things are on sale. Chicken broth is $.30 a can, and you have 5 coupons. You don’t need 5 cans of broth this week, but you will someday. Better to get them now for $.30 ea, than later for $1.50 ea.

Plan meals according to what is on sale. Try to get only a few items at full price… if you absolutely have to!

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#2 Get the grocery money out in cash, or track it very well.
• When I get my grocery money out in cash, I am less likely to over spend. I can even add up exactly how much I will spend from my Grocery Game list

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#3 Buy meat in bulk from local farmers
• We get a cow every year from farmers we know, and split it with several families. It lasts us for a year, and costs way less! Call Cole’s Meat Processing in Vilas if you don’t know a farmer and they will set you up with one.

• You can also call the meat processing plant during deer season, and they will see if there are hunters with too much, that want to give it away. You would just pay the processing price.
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#4 Get to know your grocers!
• I know the people at Harris Teeter, or at least they recognize me, since I come in each week. Sometimes they even run and hide. But the seafood guy always tells me when there is a sale coming. The meat clerk will go in the back to see if there are any more $.39/lb chickens, and the manager’s wife makes sure she emails me when there are triple coupons! The cashiers who aren’t busy will talk to my three year old while I pay. Plus, they’re really cool people!

Other savings websites

www.becentsable.net (ps. I did the graphic design for them)
www.bargainshopperlady.com
www.moneysavingmom.com
www.slickdeals.net,
www.bargainist.com,
www.shopittome.com,
www.bensbargains.net

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The Grocery Game, Start to Finish

Imagine that you eagerly anticipate your grocery shopping every week. You excitedly add your items to your cart, eagerly greet your cashier, and hold out your hand, just waiting to receive your receipt. That very receipt will tell you that you saved at least HALF on your grocery trip. The cashier, then says, “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

This has been my experience each week for the past two years. I have been playing The Grocery Game, and I’m completely hooked on saving money! I’ll ever go back to the “old ways.”

I have tons of people ask me questions about the Grocery Game, so I thought I’d write a step by step guide to getting the most out of it.

Part One: How does The Grocery Game work? And can’t I do it myself with my coupons?

Teri, the founder of The Grocery Game, (or an employee) catalogs every coupon from the Sunday Newspapers (Charlotte or Winston). Her database also tracks the sale history of almost every item sold in the grocery store, to record the “rock bottom” price.

The database then pairs the newspaper coupon with the lowest price to give you the perfect time to use your coupons, and posts them in a color-coded list. The list gives you the reg price, sale price, coupon value, date and section. The list is even in the order of the store isles. (You can also sort the list by price) You could do this yourself, but do you really want to log the sale prices of every grocery item, and sift through all the sale pages every week?

You pay $10 every 8 weeks for a one-store list, and $5 for each additional store. (That’s just $1.25 per week) BUT! If you refer three people to the program, you get three free months! I’ve been using the list free for a while now.

Part 2: What is your routine for shopping with the list?

Sunday: Get a newspaper, login to thegrocerygame.com, and select my products from Terri’s List for Harris Teeter. Print out the list.
Sunday Night: Using the list, pull the coupons for this week’s list from my file. Cut and file coupons from this week’s paper.
Monday or Tuesday: Take the list to Harris Teeter, and buy the items. Be sure to hand over your VIC card. I forgot once, and it was not pretty. Get rainchecks for the sold-out items, and file them with the coupons for those items.

Have fun putting away your booty!

Part 3: How do you file your coupons?

Some people file their coupons by date in the original coupon flier, without cutting. That makes less work when you file, but more work when you shop. And you also need a large accordian file. It’s not my preferred method.

I use two canceled check files, one for food, and one for toiletry type items. Here is the breakdown:

File 1: Beverages, Breakfast, Dessert/ Snacks, Canned Goods, Grocery, Sauces/ Seasonings, Refrigerated Frozen, Baby, Pets, Rainchecks

File 2: Make-up, Soap/ Deodorant, Hair, Shaving/ Feminine, Cleaners, Laundry, Paper Products, Medicine:Adult, Medicine:Children, Betteries, Teeth, Lotion.

You could get away with less categories, but it’s easier for me to have less coupons in each section.

Part 4: Do you find yourself buying things you don’t use?

No. I buy things I wouldn’t usually buy, but just because they’re expensive. I used to buy a lot of store-brand foods, some of which were way inferior (American cheese, for instance). If I can buy a name brand for cheaper than store brands, why not? I’ve also tried lots of new things and ended up liking most of them. You certainly don’t have to buy everything on the list, so just choose the items you will use. Sometimes if I find something I won’t use that is really cheap, I’ll buy it to donate to a food drive.

Part 5: What is your monthly grocery budget?

We spend roughly $300 per month on everything, including toiletries, cleaning product, hair, teeth, you name it. Honestly, we usually get juice, milk, and cheese at Walmart. There have been months when we’ve used our grocery budget up early, but we usually have enough food to last two full weeks.

Part 6: What about meat and produce?

Terri also posts the rock bottom produce and meat prices, so even though there are no coupons you get a heads up. We buy local beef for roughly $3.00/lb, including steaks, stew meat, roasts, ground. We also get a deer from the meat processing plant every year. This helps with our meat bill. The Local Farmers’ Market is a great place to get local produce. Sometimes, we buy large quantities in season, and can it for the winter.

Tips for getting the most out of the Free Trial.

Save up coupons for at least 4 weeks, before you sign up for the Grocery Game. It takes about six weeks to accumulate all the coupons in the list, so make sure you get the most bang for your buck, and are able to see what it’s really like to play the Grocery Game.

When the Grocery Game is NOT for you.

Although I adore the Grocery Game, and recommend it highly, sometimes it’s not for you.

  • if you have lots of allergies, and find yourself buying highly specialized foods.
  • if you only eat organic foods. There are some organic foods on the list, but for the most part, no.
  • if you are extremely brand loyal for many products. I have a few brand loyalties. For instance, I only like JIF peanut butter, (and Smuckers Natural) Luckily, JIF has regular coupons so it’s OK. I have pretty much given up on store-brand sour cream and mac and cheese, so I’m glad I get brand-name coupons.

Visit www.thegrocerygame.com, and check it out. There is an information page, testimonials, and a message board so you can share tips/questions, etc. You can see a sample of what the list looks like on the information page.

If you sign up, and want to say I referred you, add the email address: singforhim94@yahoo.com

So, do you have any other questions? Post them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer them. Do you use the Grocery Game? Tell us how you like it!.