"A penny saved is a penny earned." I am a stay-at-home mom, so I try to do what I can to be "fiscally responsible". I am no where near the "extreme couponer" stage, although I have dabbled in that some and it is pretty impressive. I would definitely encourage you to give it a go if you've got the time & energy to devote to it. At one point I was so on my game that I had our weekly expenses (including household items, groceries, birthday presents, hygiene items, etc) down to a mere $100 a week...and that is for a family of FIVE!!! In today's world, I would say that is pretty impressive - especially since we were not eating ramen noodles every night. The Mr. is very much a steak & potatoes kind of guy. Alas, I have let things slide over the years, but I would love to pass along a few tips & tricks for any beginners out there that I still use today.
First and foremost is the concept of price-matching. This one is so simple, and I honestly still do it on a weekly basis. It takes minimal time and saves LOTS of money. I saved about $15 yesterday, which happened to be about 33% of my total bill. A lot of stores are doing it now, and most cashiers are trained on it, so I think the "taboo" nature that it may have carried in the past is over and done with. My favorite store for this is Wal-Mart. Besides the bagged caser salad (which I blogged about a few weeks ago), it's the main reason I go there. You can get all of your groceries at the best possible price without wasting days and gas driving all over town.
It's as simple as making your grocery list and then pulling the weekly grocery circulars out and looking to see if anything is on sale. You don't even have to take the ads with you! Just simply write where the sale is and the price and Wal-Mart will adjust it. It is their policy to believe the customer. I love that, especially if I forget my ads at home. I just hope people don't abuse it and make them change it. These are actual ads that came to my house Wednesday. So yesterday I bought 3 pounds of strawberries for 99 cents a pound, I paid 33 cents for avacados (we will be having avocado mousse for dessert this week & guacamole for Cino de Mayo!!), 49 cents for a mango (that I bought to make some fresh mango salsa to go on some mahi mahi fillets we are grilling tomorrow, YUM!!). We go through shredded cheese like mice around here, and it keeps for up to a YEAR in the freezer, so you better believe I bought several bags of that. You can get mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, all for 99 cents a bag! Even the Wal-Mart store brand cheese is $2.19 a bag so that is more than half-off! I also bought several capri-sun boxes at $1.49. Not because I love them, but summer is just around the corner, and when you have a backyard full of kids, they get thirsty. I could just go on forever, but I'll stop now.
A couple of quick notes, most grocery stores send out their ads on Tuesday in a mailer, but they also come in the Wednesday paper if you get that.
I put all of my price-match items in the back of my cart and have the cashier ring them up last so I can watch him/her do it. I also usually set the ads on top of the items so they know to expect it and we don't have to back-track and void a lot of items. You may take a few trips/transactions to figure out a system that works for you, but I literally watched a sweet 70+ year old lady do it yesterday in front of me, so if she can do it, you can too!
Target also price-matches, but it is less convenient because you have to check out with your non-matched items in the regular line, and then go to customer service with your items you want to price-match. Consequently they do not have a scale there so if you're buying produce it drags on to be quite a lengthy and less beneficial process. The one thing I do love to price match at Target though is movies when they are first released. Target always seems to have extra discounts, bonus packages, coupons, or the beloved Cartwheel discounts, that you can add on top to get movies dirt cheap.
Here are some other money-saving tips & tricks you might be interested in knowing.
They accept competitor's coupons! (so go ahead and pull up that 40% off Hobby Lobby one!)
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Coupons never expire, I mean NEVER! I have an entire file in my office full of these. Supposedly some stores will not honor the full discount if they are expired, but I talked to the manager at the store closest to my house and she said they changed the company policy on that. You might check with your store first to be sure, but the ones in Kansas honor the printed value of the coupon.
You can use one coupon for each and every item in your transaction!
If you forget your coupon, you can go back in with your receipt and your coupon at a later date, and they will refund you the difference.
Just go to Target.com and then click on "more". It will drop down a menu and you can select "coupons". Simply click and print the ones you like and voila! You can also combine Target coupons with manufacturer coupons you find in the Sunday paper, online, etc. For instance, right now there is a 50 cents off Clorox wipes coupon on Target.com. There was also a 25 cent coupon off Clorox wipes in the Sunday paper a few weeks ago. So together you get 75 cents off. Be sure to check when you print out the Target coupons if they say "Target Coupon" or "Manufacturer Coupon" at the top. I know, lots of details, but after you do it once, it becomes second nature.
As I said earlier, Target does price match, you just have to go to the customer service desk and have it adjusted.
Target also offers great discounts/digital coupons via text messaging. You can just text OFFERS to 827438 and you will instantly get coupons sent to your phone. Right now they have a $5 off $25 shoe purchase, or a $2 off a $5 bakery item, along with lots of other great deals! Again, you can combine these deals with cartwheel, so always scan those items before putting them in your cart just to see. Who knows! What have you got to loose except money!?!?
I have already mentioned this a few times, but this app saves me tons of money! It actually keeps a running total and up to today I have saved $178.87 with it. I have only been using it for a little over a year!!! It's free to download and you just scan items with your phone as you put them in your cart to see if they have an additional discount. Almost everything in the store is 5% off. Sometimes as high as 25% off. Be sure to have them scan your cartwheel bar code last, after you have applied all other discounts.
The most convenient place you will ever price match!!!
Happy Saving Friends!
It also happens to be Frappuccino Happy Hour May 1st-May 10th. From 3-5pm all Frappuccinos are 50% off at Starbucks! I think I know where I'm headed after work today. :)