Many of you shoppers probably use or have used coupons at some point in your life. Some of you probably use them more than others. And some of you may even call yourselves “extreme couponers.” It’s not an easy task, being an extreme couponer: it takes time, energy, diligence, persistence, and you may even have to ward off judgment from other shoppers. But with prices at the supermarket skyrocketing, we should all try to be like you, saving nickels and dimes and even dollars every time something lands in the basket. Here are some ways to get extreme about saving on groceries.
Grocery Prices Rising
According to The Wall Street Journal, food prices rose 0.2% in March, adding to a 3.3% increase in average food prices year-over-year. This rise in prices can affect consumers in a variety of ways. Companies may scale back their sales, offering fewer items at sale prices or less meaningful discounts on sale items. Your favorite foods might go on sale less frequently, or not at all. Of course, “standard” prices may even rise as well. To combat rising prices, grocery stores and suppliers may also change packaging sizes. Instead of getting 10 snack bars in a box, you might only get 8, or 6 for the same price. There are lots of possibilities, but one thing seems certain: Your dollar is buying less food than it used to.
Even though buying groceries is unavoidable, there are several ways to negotiate these price increases and leave the supermarket without breaking your budget.
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money with coupons, but the more you clip, the more you’ll save. There are several websites out there that offer free coupon downloads for the big retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart), as well as for grocery stores specifically. To make the most of your savings, organize your coupons in a way so you won’t forget what you have and where you can use it. If you’re truly being an extreme couponer, you’ll also be hopping from store-to-store, finding and following the best deals.
“Sherlock” The Shelves
Sherlock Holmes would save a fortune at the supermarket, if only because he would look every shelf up and down (and up and down again) to find the absolute best bargain. While this is often the only way to comparison shop by unit price, knocking off a dollar here or there by grabbing a nearly identical item, it’s also the only way to find the older, bigger packages. When package sizes get scaled back, stores may still stock the older packages. You just have to find them.
Buy in Bulk
At warehouse clubs like Costco’s or BJ’s, you might be able to do your grocery shopping for up to 30% less than at a supermarket. However, membership fees at these warehouse clubs can be steep: Costco recently raised its membership fee to $55 a year; BJ’s also recently raised its fee to $50 a year. While the savings on groceries over a year will likely offset this fee, people still debate whether buying in bulk is worth it or not. If you buy too much of a perishable item and let it go bad, that’s money down the drain. Before buying a lot of something, make sure you need it.
How do you get extreme about savings on groceries? What are some easy tips we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section below!