In the words of Checkers, “You gotta eat!” Plain and simple. We’ve covered ways to cut down your bill at restaurants, but what about saving money at the grocery store? And saving without spending hours clipping coupons and making four different stops. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you follow these five simple steps, you’ll see significant savings every time you shop:
Step 1: Come prepared. Your pantry and fridge are near empty… it’s time to make that dreaded trip to the grocery store. What should you do first? Check the weekly ads at various grocery stores in your area to see what’s on sale. Then, simply make a shopping list based on these sales and STICK TO IT!
Step 2: Use coupons. Americans who use coupons save an average of 7 percent on their grocery bills, according to the Promotion Marketing Association. Even if you just spend $200 a month at the supermarket, that’s an annual savings of $168. For some, that equates to almost a whole month’s worth of food FREE!
But couponing always seems to conjure up images of old ladies rummaging through their pocketbooks after spending hours clipping. To save you some time (and your sanity), just check these three places and you’ll be good to go:
- Upload electronic coupons to your loyalty card or Smart phone by visiting coupon websites. Our favorites are Valpak.com, Coupons.com and Shortcuts.com.
- Check out iPhone apps that will allow you to use coupons or add them to your loyalty card without having to print or clip anything. Our favorites are Grocery iQ, Pushpins and Grocery Gadget.
- Although you’ll still have to clip, if you just buy two or three Sunday Papers the week of your grocery trip, you can see some serious savings from just a few minutes of snipping.
[Mortgage Help: Get your free credit report and see if your credit score is mortgage qualified]Step 3: Watch what you buy. Everyone knows that if you buy generic, you’ll likely save money, but make sure to look at unit pricing, too. Sometimes an item might have a lower total cost, but when you factor in size, you may wind up overpaying if you always go with the final cost. Another well-known tip is to buy in bulk and stock up when things are on sale. But don’t go overboard. There’s no need to buy a year’s supply of chicken just because it’s $1.99/lb. Just buy enough to last you until the next sale, which is usually in about two to three weeks.
Step 4: Eat healthy. The easiest way to ensure that your wallet and your waistline will be happy is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where all of the fresh food lives, rather than the prepared, over-salted, high-in-chemicals junk you’ll find in the middle aisles. When you have to make it yourself, you’re almost always saving money and increasing nutrition. While you’re at it, avoid pre-chopped foods, too, which charge a premium for their “service.” Finally, buy what’s in season. How will you know what’s in season? Whatever you see piled high when you enter the produce department is your answer. Fresh, healthy and less expensive!
Step 5: Get rewarded. Sign up for loyalty cards at the grocery stores you frequent the most. But that’s not the only way to save some serious moolah. It’s worth looking into credit cards that reward customers for purchases made at grocery stores, too. For example, with the American Express Blue Cash card, you can earn 5 percent cash back on all purchases at supermarkets! Similarly, the United Mileage PlusVisa Select Card rewards you with 2 miles per $1 spent on groceries. And during certain times of the year, Discover More Card offers 5 percent cash back on grocery purchases, too.