Posted by: thesavinghabit | April 23, 2010

Some Basics To Start Saving

In today’s economy, saving money wherever possible has become an essential for many people.  Grocery prices continue to rise and yet incomes are not.  However, good prices are available if you take a few minutes each week to plan your shopping.

 In my experience, there are two main things you can do to really stretch your grocery budget.

 1)     Stock up on nonperishable items when they are on sale so you never have to pay full price for them.  Sales are usually on an 8-12 week cycle, so purchase enough to get you through 12 weeks if possible so you are not paying full price in between sales

2)     Save coupons and look for printable coupons to add to the sale prices to provide you an even bigger discount.

 There are many more tips that help but focusing on those two is a great start.

 In last week’s blog I mentioned the importance of stocking up when items are on sale in order to not have to pay full price in between sales.  Obviously, the immediate savings on the price is of value. However, another very important reason for purchasing in this manner is to eliminate the need for shopping at multiple stores in order to get the best prices. When you are driving all over town for the best prices, you are spending money on gas, wear & tear on your vehicle and, of course, your valuable time.  

 Many people ask me where I find coupons. There are many sources that I will list below:

-The Sunday Newspaper. Almost every week, aside from a holiday weekend, there will be coupon inserts in the paper.

  -Many manufacturer’s will have printable coupons on their websites.  If they don’t, email them and ask them for coupons. Many times they will send you a nice batch of coupons in the mail!

 -Look for “blinkies” in stores – these are the coupons that are in a dispenser on the store shelves next to the products

 -Look in magazines. Walmart’s All You Magazine is a great one for coupons – http://www.allyou.com/

 -Many mid-week papers have coupon inserts as well. Locally the “Forum” and “Jewish Journal” both have coupons that come out on Wednesday.

 -Publix has several magazines that usually have coupons in them. I suggest subscribing to them (they are free) as the store copies don’t always have the coupons.

            Publix Greenwise – http://publix.com/wellness/greenwise/feature/Home.do

            Publix FamilyStyle – http://publix.com/clubs/familystyle/Home.do

            Publix Wine Guide – http://publix.com/clubs/wine/Home.do (I am not a wine drinker so I am not sure if this one includes coupons or not)  

In addition, if you qualify, sign up for the following:

            Publix Baby Club – http://publix.com/clubs/baby/Home.do

            Publix Preschool Pals – http://publix.com/preschool/NonMemberHome.do

 Many stores will have extra coupon booklets that come out through the year. Always check their sales flyer areas to see if they have any available.

 If a product is BOGO {Buy One, Get One Free} can you still use a coupon?

 That is an excellent question, and one that many people do not fully understand. Yes, you can use a coupon for a BOGO sale.  However, what most people do NOT realize is that most stores will allow you to use TWO coupons on a BOGO sale, provided the coupon is for cents off 1 item.  If the coupon is for cents off the purchase of 2 items, then you will only be able to use one coupon.  Another interesting fact about BOGO sales and coupons is that if the items are on sale for BOGO and you have a coupon that is for BOGO, you can usually buy one and get two for free – one free with the purchase and one free with the coupon. This is another excellent way to increase your savings.

 Don’t forget the common acronyms:

BOGO – Buy one, get one free

SS – Smart Source (coupon inserts in Sunday’s papers)

RP – Red Plum (coupon inserts in Sunday’s papers)

 A friend did ask me a very important question that I wanted to address here.  Her question was if I purchased items just because I have a coupon.  This is a big trap many people fall into when beginning the process of using coupons. The ONLY time you should purchase something you don’t need or use just because you have a coupon is if you can get it for free, or almost free and can then donate it to a worthy cause.  With the recession we are in, so many charities are in need of donations – food banks, etc.  This is a wonderful way to donate items without affecting your own budget.  However, if you go to the store and buy items that you didn’t plan to buy, you’ve just spent money unnecessarily and you are defeating your purpose of saving money!

 Today we’re going to discuss the topic of Store Brand vs. Name Brand.  A comment I often hear is that shopping at discount stores such as Target, Walmart, or Kmart and/or buying store brand items saves them more money than they can save with coupons.  I beg to differ! In some instances, this may be true. But this is the scenario I see most often.

 Let’s say you are needing to purchase Product X.  The name brand of Product X sells for $3.99.  The store brand of Product X sells for $3.19.  So, if you’re purchasing without sales or coupons, you can obviously see that the store brand costs less.  However, let’s consider what happens when you have sales to consider.

 Product X goes on sale for BOGO (buy one, get one free).  So, now you are getting 2 for $3.99 where 2 of the store brand is going to cost you $6.38.  Now let’s consider this:  You have coupons for $0.50 off 1 of the name brand item. Since you are getting 2 of the item on a BOGO sale, you can use 2 coupons for $0.50 each.   Now you’ve just gotten 2 name brand Product X for $2.99, as opposed to 2 store brand for $5.38. Even if you only purchased one of the store brand you would be paying more ($3.19) for one because there are generally not coupons available for store brand products.

 As you can see, by stocking up on these types of items, it is usually less costly to get the name brand items on sale, even without coupons, than it is to get store brand products.

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