The average household in the United States spends between 10-15% of their budget on groceries. For a family of four, estimates of the average dollar amount spent are between $400 and $700 per month. Food ranks only behind housing and transportation as the largest share of an average household budget. So it makes more sense than ever in tough economic times to save on grocery expenses whenever possible. Here are some tips on how to take advantage of grocery coupons and some other simple ways to trim your grocery expenses.
First of all, plan ahead. Planning menus for the entire week based on sales fliers and coupons will not only help you take advantage of savings, but will also help you avoid additional trips to the grocery which are a drain on both your food and your transportation budget. Planning ahead will also help you avoid impulse buys which can cost you more.
Find the best sources of coupons and information. Nearly three-quarters of all grocery coupons are found in the newspaper, so knowing when the coupons and sale ads come out and picking up those days’ copies is usually a good investment. You can also check online at your grocer’s website where they often advertise their best deals. The Web is also a good source for printable coupons, both from stores and individual brands. Some stores also let you link your frequent shopper card to electronic coupons available on the Web.
While you’re at it, why not shop online? Web-based grocery retailers offer many of the same items you’ll find in your local grocer or supermarket, often at significant savings. You’ll find online grocery coupons for several leading grocery retailers here on our offers site.
Learn the rules. Does your grocery store offer to double coupons on certain days? Do they have in-store coupons available in the aisles? How about deals where you can buy one item and get the second for free or for half price? Some stores even offer to match published prices of other stores in the area. Learn the policies at multiple stores to see where you’ll get the best deals overall. Knowing the ins and outs of your local grocers will help you take advantage of every possible discount.
Only use coupons for things you really need anyway. Whether it’s a good deal or not, spending money on something that you don’t need or won’t use is no bargain. This is especially true of bulk items that might go to waste before you use them.
Watch the items ring up. After you’ve gone to all the trouble to plan your shopping, you’ll want to make sure that your items (whether on sale, with coupons or not) scan with the correct price. Some stores will actually give you an item for free if it rings up at the wrong price. It pays to keep an eagle eye on the scanner.
Don’t forget to ask for rainchecks. If a sale or coupon item is out of stock when you shop, most stores will give you a raincheck to buy it on your next visit so you won’t miss out on the savings.
It does take a little thought and preparation to make the most out of grocery coupons and other savings opportunities, but getting into a routine for your grocery shopping that employs these few simple steps can have a huge impact on how much your household spends on one of the most significant aspects of your budget.