Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grocery Savings Rocks

I have blogged about my grocery savings for awhile now but I believe it often bears repeating. If you have not been to this site you don't know what you are missing. I don't get paid one penny to advertise this here but I do know how happy I get when I enjoy immense savings at the grocery and drug stores.

Last night I was watching the national news on NBC and there was a story about the ever growing rise in price of food. Milk up by 30%, eggs up by 40%, tomatoes up by 25%. But I snicker inside because, for me, my grocery bill has never been lower.

How is that possible? It's because this site retrained the way I shop for food. If you have an aversion to going to this site (believe me it's not a scam) I will give you a few pointers in what I have learned over the past several months. I can say I am somewhat of an expert shopper now considering I never pay more than $100 a week for groceries and drugs for my family of 6 and that includes one child in diapers and two teenage boys.

Here is my list of do's in order to save the most:

1. Don't be a slave to name brands. Decide which brand names you can cross over to other brands. Don't turn your eye to generic brands. A lot of stores offer many wonderful generic brand alternatives.

2. Stockpile, stockpile, stockpile. This takes some clever pantry use especially if you don't have a very big pantry unlike my sister in law Cindy who has a pantry that is the size of one of my small bedrooms. But if you are not her, don't sweat it. Get creative with the storage space you do have.

3. Strive to NEVER buy an item at full retail price. Sometimes this is not possible. You always seem to have that one NEED item that you cannot do without. That's ok. But limit it as much as possible by stockpiling and planning ahead. If you go to the Grocery Game website and sign up, you can print out lists that tell you when an item has hit a rock bottom price. When it does, go out and buy it and as much of it as possible. (I remember the day when my store had peanut butter on sale for $1 a jar. I was so ecstatic that I bought 10 jars. I wished I had bought more. My husband looked at me like I was nuts. I have not seen it on sale like that since which means that it is destined to go back on sale like that soon).

4. Except for perishables, you can never have too much of an item (unless of course you eat it once a year). Things in this category would be cereal, pasta, canned veggies or spaghetti sauce, cake mix (yes at one point I had about 7 boxes of these in my pantry), peanut butter, jelly, jello, olive oil, etc. You get the point.

5. Don't be a slave to any one store. I used to be a Publix purist. I never wandered anywhere else. Not any more. My new favorite store is Winn Dixie. Why? Because they send me $10 off coupons in the mail. They also offer great sales every week if you sign up for their free customer card. Publix sends me nothing. Not one coupon. In fact at Publix they won't accept printed online coupons. Winn Dixie is ok with that. Winn Dixie always has their meat on sale and great sales too. Buy one get one free. You can't beat that for chicken, fish, and steaks. Publix never has meat on sale like that.

6. You must go into CVS and sign up for one of their store cards as long as you have one in your area. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. If you have a card you can always get a gallon of milk there for no more than $3.99. Some weeks they run a sale for $3.49. That is almost a dollar less than at the grocery store. When you go into CVS you can get free coupons with your card. Most stores have a scanner machine where you can scan the card and coupons start popping out. Many times they are $10 off with a total purchase of $50 or more. Can't complain about free money. Also at CVS certain items go on sale every week where they offer to give you extrabucks back. That is like FREE MONEY toward your next purchase. In addition, for every dollar you spend at CVS, you get 2% back at the end of every quarter. They are paying YOU to shop there. The prices are no more than any other store. In fact with the coupon machine there, the extra bucks and the 2% back, it just doesn't make any sense to NOT go there. (Sorry Pauline, I know you respectfully disagree).

7. I know I mentioned stockpiling groceries but it is also important to stockpile toiletries. If shampoo is on sale buy one get one free buy a lot of it, unless there is a specified limit. You should see my bathroom closet. It is FULL of enough toothpaste to last me a few years....shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, shaving cream, dental floss, q-tips, facial scrub, makeup. All of it was bought at rock bottom prices. I will never NEED any of that because as my stockpile decreases I will be on the look out for it to hit rock bottom again.

8. The stores generally cycle their products to go on sale. If you keep your eyes open you can tell when something will go on sale. For example, I drink diet coke and my husband drinks pepsi. I have stockpiled 6 cases of Pepsi for him and I am down to my last case of Diet Coke. The CVS flyer came in the mail today for sales starting Sunday. Guess what soda is on sale.....Diet Coke! I could have predicted that because I am starting to run low because it's been awhile since it has gone on sale. The reverse will happen in a few weeks when his Pepsi stockpile runs low too. Strange how that works.

9. Notice how I have not yet mentioned clipping coupons. The reason for that is because if you do #1-#8 you can already enjoy savings in the 30%-50%. I know I do. Now if you are a SERIOUS saver and want to really step it up in the savings category, get your Sunday paper every week, take out all of the coupon flyers and clip EVERY COUPON out. You will need to get a small little organizer for them but if you do it right you will enjoy even more savings. You will come to realize that stores know which coupons are being sent to regional areas and it's amazing how many items go on sale when a coupon is being offered in the paper. And if you happen to shop at a store that offers double coupons (25cent coupon gets you 50 cents off) you may have the store paying YOU for your groceries.

Ok. Now that I have talked your ear off, the best advice I can give you is to read my bullets and get into the savings game. I can tell you that there is nothing like going to the grocery store and having the cashier tell you that the total is $80 and then saying "you saved $90 today" and having the person behind you look at you in shock.

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