Monday, June 30, 2008

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Using Supermarket Coupons: Advanced Coupon Techniques, Part 2

In Using Supermarket Coupons: Advanced Coupon Techniques, Part 1 we started to talk about how to stretch your food dollars further with some advanced coupon use techniques.

In today’s post, I wanted to continue with some additional advanced couponing strategies. So far we have covered the basics of when to use supermarket coupons, using supermarket coupons to quickly reduce your grocery bills, and started into the advanced couponing techniques. If you are just joining us, go back and read the first articles to lay the groundwork for your savings strategies.

Many of you may be wondering how many coupon strategies there are. Well I’ll be honest, there are many. I have chosen to cover the most effective and quickest savings options because I don’t want you get overloaded with way too much information and muddy the waters.

If you focus on the basics first, and then add the advanced strategies, you should easily be able to reduce spending by 50% or more within a month or two if not considerably sooner. Sound good?

Let’s continue with the advanced strategies.

Instant Coupons

Using supermarket coupons does not need to be limited to manufacturer coupons that you clip from the Sunday inserts. If you look around while shopping you will notice that the manufacturers will quite frequently put instant coupons on their products before shipping.

You know the coupons I am talking about, the ones you peel off and redeem at the register for instant savings. If the product is packaged in a bottle or jar, occasionally the coupons can be found on a neck hanger around the top of the bottle.

Keep your eyes open for these offers. They are out there frequently and will help you save some extra cash.

What can you do with these “found” savings? Well, think about it, some offers you can still double. Double coupons are your friend. There are extra savings to be had here.

Sometimes the offers you will find on instant coupons are on a sale item. Sale items plus coupon are a great value.

On occasion the instant supermarket coupons on a sale item will make a competing brand even cheaper than the product you had planned to buy. Make a wise choice based on every tool you have in your tool box.

Once in a while, manufacturers put out a bonus package, with say and extra 30% free product for the same price. If an instant coupon is lying around, and the UPC codes are the same you can use the coupon on larger package, then you just got 30% more product free for the same price.

Incidentally, instant supermarket coupons also come in those little machines hanging in front of the product on the shelf. They are usually red in color and will print a coupon for you on the spot. A more outdated method you may run into is a tear pad with a bunch of instant supermarket coupons that the sales reps leave near the products they are trying to push.

In my experience, if the instant coupons have a long expiration date and are for a product I use often then I will generally grab a few extras if they are either on a tear pad or in the machines. Any free coupon is a good coupon in my book.

In the best case an instant coupon may be doubled, though often this type of supermarket coupon can not. If you can not double, then money off is still money and your second best choice.

Instant Coupons in Conjunction with Buy Multiple Items, Get Multiple Items Free Offers

Every once in a while you will find a BMIGMF offer in the weekly sales flyer. As we talked about earlier in this post, BMIGMF are most likely to come up right around the time that a major food manufacturer drops a lot of high face value coupons in the Sunday paper.

Your goal when trying to get most groceries for the least amount of money is to find a high face value double or triple coupon for each item your need to buy to get the additional items free.

So what if you have coupons for most products in the offer, but not a few? Well, you have a couple of options. First, you can concede defeat and pay what is left to make the deal a go, or you can keep your eyes peeled for instant coupons for additional savings. Keep in mind that instant coupons can be either coupons placed on tear pads, on the product itself, or store coupons in the weekly sales circular.

As we said before, advertising is big business and a huge expense for most food manufacturers. They are limited by space and the cost of that space. So how do they push additional cases with a fraction of the cost of printing another coupon? They have their sales and merchandising reps slap instant coupons on the products that did not have coupons already printed in the Sunday inserts. The product still sells at an increased rate for much less cost.

Keep your eyes open for instant coupons on the products listed in the sales flyer that did not have a coupon printed in the most recent weeks Sunday coupon inserts. More often than not you will find instant coupons on the products themselves, in the stores advertisement, on a tear pad near the product.

You many or may not be able to double or triple these offers depending on the offer and your stores policies, but savings is still savings, every little bit helps.

Multiplying Savings by Shopping Twice (or More)

This next strategy is a little, well how can I put this delicately? Ummm….I won’t say sneaky, just perhaps a bit hardcore.

If the deal is really incredible like, buy 10 items and get an additional $5.00 off on whatever they are offering I’ll shop more than once in a week. That is, if I can still get the discounts, and my double coupons bring the net cost of the products down to pennies or totally free offers.

It depends on the store policy and the offer but sometimes the limitations are 1 offer per household per visit. A visit is usually defined by either leaving the store and then coming back inside, or a 24 hour period. Again, it depends on both the offer and the store policy.

Want to really kick your savings into high gear? If the products will be used without waste and will store well, I’ll buy as many of a great offer like this as I can reasonably use. This is where using supermarket coupons really pays off in a big way.

Case in point, I found a Buy 10 items offer with an additional instant $5.00 coupon on your next order with a limit of 1 offer per household per day. Great, I had tons of coupons and here is how the numbers worked out.

Cake Mix $1.69 full price
$ .89 sale price

Frosting $2.29 full price
$1.50 sale price

Muffin Mix $2.69 full price
$1.69 sale price

Corn Bread Mix $1.69 full price
$ .99 sale price

Peanut Butter $2.79 full price
$1.89 sale price

Jelly $ 2.89 full price
$ 1.50 sale price

Here is what I bought:

Cake Mix 2@ .89 = $1.79
Coupon - $.35
Coupon - $.35
Double Coupon - $.35
Double Coupon - $.35

Frosting 2@ $1.50= $3.00
Coupon -$. .35
Coupon -$. .35
Double Coupon -$. .35
Double Coupon -$. .35

Muffin Mix 1@ $1.69 = $1.69
Coupon -$.50
Double Coupon -$.50

Cornbread Mix 2@ $.99=$1.98
Coupon -$ .35
Coupon -$ .35
Double Coupon -$ .35
Double Coupon -$ .35

Peanut Butter 2@ $1.89= $3.78
Coupon -$ .50
Coupon -$ .50
Double Coupon -$ .50
Double Coupon -$ .50

Jelly 1 @ $1.50 = $1.50
Coupon - $.35
Double Coupon - $.35
Sub Total $4.48

Now, don’t forget, I will get a certificate at the checkout for $5.00 on my next shopping trip. In essence, they paid me $.52 to buy all 10 items. I call that at pretty good deal.

Notice a couple of things about this offer. It is particularly good because I the product nets me money and that means that all items are free and then some.

Another real advantage on this deal is that the limit is per family per day. With limits this high, I can stop on my way home from work everyday and not have to spend extra gas to stock up. It takes just minutes and for each time I make the effort, my true net savings is $22.50 off the full shelf price.

But the biggest reason that I can stock up in a big way? All of the items are shelf stable and will hold for a long time in my pantry without waste.

I bought this offer 6 times during the week that it was on sale, so my total savings was $135.00 on just this one offer alone. That’s a lot of cha-ching for under an hours work don’t you think?

A caution here is that most stores will not allow you to use coupons when they have to pay you money back, so don’t take your $5.00 certificate in for the next trip unless you need another item. There is no sense in loosing $.52 of this offer. You earned it the hard way, so make every last penny of your savings work for you buy purchasing one more item that you need and can really use.

I can almost hear some of you saying, Liz, that is just over the top. Well, yeah, it can be. But, if they are going to give me free stuff, and it’s nonperishable I’ll pick it up anyway. There are plenty of elderly folks and young single parents who live around me that could do with a helping hand. Barring that, your local food banks can always use donations especially for protein products like peanut butter and tuna fish and other nonperishables. So, I figure I have these skills for a reason and I try to help whenever and however I can.

I hope this crash course in using supermarket coupons has helped you to see that the effort really does pay off in the long run. The longer you do this the less effort it becomes, and really the savings can be spectacular. The moral of the story? In the right circumstances you can really kick your savings into high gear by using multiple supermarket coupons, multiple times in the same week.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Using Supermarket Coupons: Advanced Coupon Techniques, Part 1

In our last two posts, we talked about how to use supermarket coupons to quickly cut your grocery bills down to size, and then how to get the most out of using supermarket coupons.

What next? You now understand the basics of why it is important to incorporate manufacturer coupons with every item you buy. You should be convinced that the effort will genuinely pay off. What if your grocery bills are still out of control or you need to cut your expenses still further? Don’t despair, we are just getting started. There is still a lot of room for savings.

You are now ready for some advanced techniques to cut your grocery bills still further.

Advanced Coupon Techniques for Using Supermarket Coupons

So, let’s review the basic use of supermarket coupons savings strategies for a minute.

-Always use a coupon for every item in your shopping cart.

-Wait to use coupons until the produce is on sale.

-Shop on double and triple coupon days.

-Buy the maximum number of like items you can when they are either free or pennies-on-the-dollar. The one notable exception here is to only buy what you can use without waste if the item is perishable.

The basic rules of how to use supermarket coupons are pretty simple right? Find as many discounts as you can, use coupons consistently, wait until things are on sale to maximize savings and then stock up when the price is right.

Great, got the basics, now what? Now we want to stretch those savings even further. Let’s get started with the advanced techniques you may not have ever heard of before.

Using Supermarket Coupons with Buy-One-Get-One Free Offers

Buy-one-get-one free offers are otherwise known as BOGOS in the grocery industry. Most consumers mistakenly think that they will really get one item free at a 50% discount off when buying products with this type of offer.

Well, yes and then again no. You will get the second item for free. It’s just not as good of a deal as you may have been lead to believe. Why? If you track prices carefully, then know that the week of the sale prices will generally rise by 20-30% for the week of the sale over what is the usual shelf price.

So is this type of sale still a good deal? YES, if you know how to beat them at their own game. Let’s look at what you can do to get your best deal.

Let’s say that you find an offer for BOGO on a major brand of frozen vegetables.

Usual Full Price: $3.79
This Weeks Full Price: $4.69 (+21 %)
Buy 2 bags for $4.69 /2 = $2.35 each (-38 % off usual full price)

Get one free looks great on the surface, and you do at today’s price, just not the usual shelf price.
Now, let’s look at what happens if you use a $.50 coupon that the store will double on the first item. In my store, you can also use a second $.50 manufacturer coupon on the second item which they will not double.

Why can you use a coupon on the second item that is technically free? The manufacturer pays for coupon discount and you are buying the product before the store discount at full retail price. The store pays to double the first coupon along with the “free” offer on the second item. So, this is a matter of who offers what and writes it off as an advertising expense.

Important note: some grocery chains prohibit this policy; it depends on the store, so check policies first. From my experience, most still do allow it though.

Here is the way the math works out on this particular offer:

Usual Full Price: $3.79
This Weeks Full Price: $4.69 (+21 %)
Buy 2 bags for $4.69
Manufacturer coupon - $.50
Manufacturer coupon - $.50
Double coupon -$.50
Net cost $3.19 /2 = $1.60 per bag (savings off full price 58 %)

By using the coupons in conjunction with a BOGO you will recapture the increase in product price for the week of the sale as well as gain an additional discount from the use of the manufacturer coupons.

The greater the face value of the coupon used, the greater your savings because you are using multiple like coupons.

Pretty cool right?

Rebates in Conjunction with a BOGO and Double or Triple Coupon

Every once in a while you will run into a BOGO with current coupons and the option to mail in a rebate. While collecting the UPCS, receipt of purchase and filling out the paperwork does take some additional effort. You will often make money on this type of offer.

So what is better than an item either for free or a pennies on the dollar? Making extra money on the transaction…payday!

It is fair to note that not everyone wishes to spend the time to mail in rebates, it does take time and extra effort. I rebate selectively. If an offer will net me over $3.00 I’ll take the time, otherwise maybe not. Again using this strategy will depend on your own needs and situation.

Where do you find rebates? Well, they can be printed in the newspaper or in the Sunday inserts. Often you will find them on boxes of the product you just purchased, or on tear pads on the grocery store shelves. Sometimes you will also find offers online.

All and all, combining BOGO offers with using supermarket coupons and rebates are an excellent way to save and even make money.

Using Supermarket Coupons in Conjunction with In Store Coupons

I’m sure you have seen store coupons in your weekly sales flyer. Sometimes stores will print store coupons that give additional savings off the already reduced member savings card price. Cereal is a favorite product to offer at a special in store coupon price because the profit margins are relatively high on this item.

Example: A grocery store advertises a major brand cereal at the sale price with club card of 2/$5.00. They also print and in store coupon in their sales flyer for buy 4 boxes at $1.99 each.

Is this a good price? Well, yes and no, it depends on how you shop.

Regular shelf price: $4.29
Price with coupon: $1.99 (savings off full price $2.30 per box, 54%)

It sounds like a good price, over 50% off, but you can do better.

If there is a current manufacturer coupon for $1.00 off 2 boxes you can use those coupons as well.

My local store will not double if there is an in store coupon redeemed at the same time. But, I can still save another $2.00 off 4 boxes and in essence get 1 box free for using my coupons with this offer.

The net prices work out like this:

2 boxes @ $1.99 per box after in store coupon = $7.96
Manufacturer Coupon $1.00 off 2 boxes = -$1.00
Manufacturer Coupon $1.00 off 2 boxes = -$1.00
Net Cost $5.96 /4 boxes
$1.49 / 1 box
Total Savings off full price (65%)

Using Supermarket Coupons in Conjunction with Buy Multiple Get Multiple Items Free Offers or Instant Savings

A more recent twist on the BOGO is the BMGM offer strategy. You are required to buy multiple items froma a selected group of products to get either free items or an instant discount at the register. Discounts are generally $5.00 or more off. Sometimes products like movie tickets, or another product is offered instead.

This is a bargain hunters dream come true. Now that some stores are limiting both the number or amount of coupons you can double or use like coupons for in their coupon policies, this type of offer still makes getting a really good deal easier.

The key is to have coupons for every item you buy and try to come as close as the minimum needed to get the discount as you can. If the offer says "spend $30, then don't spend $50. If the offer says buy 10 items from the items shown, then don't buy 15 and so on.

Why is this strategy so powerful? If the coupons are not like coupons, then you get to double the first one you use on each item you buy reducing your overall cost for the group of items purchased still further than if you buy like items.

Be sure to really know the store’s coupon policy to maximize the benefits of this type of offer. Buy only what you will use and be sure to have coupon for every item on the list to maximize savings on this type of deal.

I think we will stop here for today. I’ll be continuing the advanced use supermarket coupons strategies tomorrow. We still have a few more really strong techniques at our disposal to stretch saving still further.

To recap the advanced coupon savings strategies:

- Using Supermarket Coupons with Buy-One-Get-One Free Offers

- Rebates in Conjunction with a BOGO and Double or Triple Coupon

- Using Supermarket Coupons in Conjunction with Buy Multiple Get Multiple Items Free Offers or Instant Savings

If you continue adding these strategies to the basics you will be able to watch your savings grow quickly.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

4 Simple Rules for Using Supermarket Coupons

In my last post I talked about how to quickly reduce the cost of groceries by 50% of more by using supermarket coupons. Today, I want to give you a crash course on getting the greatest savings out of every coupon you use. Remember, work smarter not harder!

As you may have noticed, most supermarket chains change their policies on coupons often. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just know that using coupons consistently will save you loads of cash no matter what the policy. That said, not all grocery chains are created equal where coupon policies are concerned. Do your homework to maximize savings.

Rule #1 Know Before You Go

Spend some time either online or making phone calls to the stores in your local area asking about their coupon policies before you shop. Some grocers offer unlimited double coupons, some offer double coupons on the first two like coupons up to $1.00, some offer doubles on the first coupon only, at full face value and so on. The policies are usually varied by chain and frequently also by geographic location. When planning a strategy in your local area it pays to know what the coupon policies are before you go shopping.

You should try to learn the following:

- How many like coupons you can use at one time? When you find a good deal you will want to lock in savings for 2 reasons on nonperishable items. First, a good deal on multiple like items maximizes savings. And second, if your pantry is stocked with enough products to get you through to the next month’s sale, then you do not need to take the time to clip another coupon or find another deal for that entire month. You will save both time and money by stocking up ahead of time at the lowest prices.

- Will the store allow you to use multiple supermarket coupons on one shopping trip? Some chains will and then again, some will not. Most grocers will allow multiple like manufacturer coupons up to a preset limit. In my area 3 like coupons seems to be the current policy.

- How many like coupons will the store double at once? Here again, policies differ. Most chains that double manufacturer coupons will only double one or two coupons per person per shopping trip. Some stores will also limit the amount they will double to $1.00 or less.

-If the supermarket does not offer unlimited double coupons, do they offer double or triple coupon days? Some chains offer unlimited double or triple coupon days once a week or month, rather than every day. It pays to plan your big shopping trips on the days that will save you the most if this is the case.

Rule #2 Always Use Double or Triple Coupons when the Item is Already On Sale.

As I have said, using supermarket coupons is the fastest way to reduce your grocery bill period. Your goal is to always use a double or triple coupon on a sale item. I regularly get free products this way. As I’m sure you will agree, free is the best price around.

Why does the product end up being free? Let’s do the math on a box of name brand cereal:

Full Shelf Price: $4.19
Sale Price: 2/ $4.00
Manufacturer Coupon: $1.00
Double Coupon: $1.00
My Net Cost: $.00

Now, once I have found this deal, my local supermarket will allow me to use supermarket coupons for 3 like items, and they will double the first two coupons up to $1.00. So, here is what I bought:

3 boxes cereal @ 2/$4.00= $6.00
Manufacturer Coupon -$1.00
Manufacturer Coupon -$1.00
Manufacturer Coupon -$1.00
Double Coupon -$1.00
Double Coupon -$1.00
My Net Cost: $1.00
Savings off Full Price $11.57 (92 %)

In my case, we use enough cereal to justify spending the buck on the third box. You may also elect to take the two free boxes of cereal and call it good. It really does depend on your own personal needs as a consumer.

In my mind, as long as you can use what you buy get it when it’s either free or super cheap. Next to free, pennies-on-the-dollar is the next best price. So, if I can use it without wasting it, I buy it.

Rule # 3 Find a Coupon for Every Item Every Time

An often overlooked savings strategy is using supermarket coupons on every item you buy every time. Most of us go as far as clipping coupons in the Sunday inserts and stop there.

This is a giant mistake. You will never realize your full savings potential until you commit to finding a discount on every item in your cart every time you shop. Don’t stop with what is on the surface for savings.

There are many, many sources of coupons besides the Sunday inserts of you local paper. So many, in fact, that I will cover where to find additional manufacturer coupons in later posts.

Why is remembering to always find a coupon so important? As we discussed in quick savings on food, 60% of what we buy is considered a staple item of our pantry regardless of what the item is. How much will you save if you always get the lowest price on 60% of what you use? More than you may think.

Consider this example:

One of your staple pantry items is that box of cereal we talked about earlier. You have a family a family of 5 with 2 hungry teenage boys and go through 3 boxes of cereal a week at the least.

52 (weeks a year) x $11.57 (savings per week in 3 boxes of cereal) = $601.64 savings per year.

Now remember, that this is just one item on your shopping list that feeds your family of 5. How many items are on your entire list?

Granted, the savings will be higher on some items than others and not every item will be free in the end. But, the point I am trying to make is that there are HUGE opportunities for savings, and this is only one example of how using supermarket coupons is most decidedly worth your time. There are many, many other examples of savings where you will regularly be able to obtain free products. You just need to look for them, and know how often you the ads will cycle through to see this type of savings yourself.

Rule #4 A Shortcut to Knowing When the Ads Will Run

I’m going to let you in on another insider secret. Manufacturers spend millions of dollars to run their cents off coupons in a Sunday inserts nationwide. With that much money being spent on advertising, you can bet they are interested in one thing only, return on investment.

Return on investment in the food industry means one thing…moving product and lots of it. So what is the fastest way to move product? Putting it on sale and dropping a high face value coupon at the same time.

What does this mean for us, the consumer? Cha-Ching! Either totally free, or very reduced prices on the products the manufacturers are pushing. Just the type of situation we are looking for to stock our pantry shelves either for free or at deep discounts.

Know that food manufacturers are savvy at getting the most bang for the advertising buck. This means moving tons of cases of the products they are promoting in a very short period of time. Their favorite strategy is to make the offer just too good to refuse.

Sales generally run within 1-2 weeks after a coupon shows up in the Sunday inserts. While this is not always the case, I have calculated that around 70% of the time this is true.

What about the other 30% of the time? 90% of the remaining published coupons will be on sale within the time that the coupon is valid.

The moral of the story is that manufacturers want to move product, and grocery stores will have the item on sale almost always within the time that the coupon is valid. Do yourself a favor and wait for the opportunity to save even more and beat them at their own game.

To summarize:

Rule #1 Know Before You Go

Rule #2 Always Use Double or Triple Coupons when the Item is Already On Sale.

Rule # 3 Find a Coupon for Every Item Every Time

Rule #4 A Shortcut to Knowing When the Ads Will Run

Master these 4 rules of smart shopping when using supermarket coupons and watch your savings grow.

Coming up in my next post…advanced couponing techniques.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quick Savings on Food: How to Use Supermarket Coupons

One of the quickest way to cut your grocery expenses down to size is every time you shop. No kidding. You can save 50% or more off your grocery bill with just this one strategy alone. When you use supermarket coupons you will save half or more off your grocery expenses every time you shop.

Yeah, I can hear the groans now…and next come the excuses. “I don’t have time,” “I never save enough to make clipping coupons worthwhile.” Let’s not forget the biggest objection of all “coupons are such a hassle.” Sorry folks, but the reality is that choosing to use supermarket coupons is where the savings is. No jokes!

Yep, I know all the excuses. I have used them all myself at one point or another. I was a master of the excuse. Being a master of excuses justified me being unhappy and complaining about the price of everything, while doing nothing to actually change my situation. That is, until I realized as a starving student in college that something needed to change. I knew I needed to work less while taking some really time intensive science classes for my degree or else my grades would suffer. I needed to find answers, something had to give.

So what happened? I simply realized two major points about myself and the lights came on. Suddenly using supermarket coupons sounded like a whole lot better deal than either working harder or another long night burning the midnight oil studying after I got home from work.

I had both the need and desire to change my situation for the better. Making a positive change was simply a matter of priorities. If you change nothing, you can hardly expect your situation to improve by sitting back and wishing that it will. Set your priorities and don’t look back. What did I learn? You have to do only two things to be successful…find the desire to change, and a way to make changes that make maintaining your success a no brainer. Keep it simple to maintain once you've made the necessary and you will succeed.

The system I am going to share with you is the one I used throughout college. I was busy too, and learned to do just enough to get the job done. “Work smarter not harder” is my mantra.

Step 1- Knowing Your Needs Before You Shop

Any savvy grocery shopper will tell you that keeping your grocery expenses in check requires only buying what you really need and keeping the impulse purchases to a minimum. Plan for a few treats, but stick to what you really need and will use.

Take a look at your grocery lists from week to week. What items show up all the time? Go beyond the common staples of cereal, bread, milk and eggs. What does your family use every single week? Week in and week out, what do you buy? Try to get a feel for how much you use and how often you buy the staple items on your list.

Do you know the full shelf price of the staples in your pantry off the top of your head? Do you know what a good (more than 30% off full retail) sale price is? Can you use supermarket coupons to reduce the price of staple items still further? How often do the sales run?

If you can not answer these questions then it is time to begin to know yourself as a consumer. You do not need to make a big laborious study of your consumption. Just begin to make mental notes of what you use, how much it costs and how often you buy things. Then start to notice how often the products you use the most go on sale.

Step 2- Always Use Supermarket Coupons When the Item is Already on Sale

Now that you have a clearer picture of what you use and how often you buy a product, know that you can save 50% or more every time you shop off full retail pricing. How do you accomplish this seemingly unreachable goal? Simple, always buy on sale and with the use of a double coupon.

Grocery stores and supermarkets generally run products at roughly 30% off the full shelf price on an ad rotation cycle of every 4 to 6 weeks. What does this mean for your pocketbook? Add the 30% savings to a double manufacturer coupon and you will easily save 50% or more off the same exact product you normally toss into your shopping cart week after week for double the price of what you really need to spend.

Want to multiply your savings? I’m about to tell you a secret that will kick your savings into high gear while reducing the time you spend shopping.

Step 3- Pump Up Your Savings With Multiple Coupons on Like Items

Your goal is to buy multiple “like” items when the price is right. Remember when I asked you to think about how much of a given product you use over the course of a week or month? Well, there was a method to my madness. I wanted you to start to get a feel for how much you consume within the time frame of a typical ad cycle on the products you use the most.

There was some recent research done that found that we purchase about 80% staple items week after week on a typical shopping trip. Oddly enough it did not matter what each consumer considered a staple item from eggs and milk to chocolate. Staples are products we are used to buying. The numbers were the same across the entire sample of the study, regardless of which items were purchased the most often. Imagine how quickly you could reduce your grocery bills if every item was 60% off the full price every time you shop. How much does that add up to over the course of a month or year? It ads up quickly doesn’t it? So here's the key. Focus on getting the lowest price on every staple item you purchase every time you shop.

I realize that some of these items are perishable and do not keep for an extended period of time. The sale price with a double coupon strategy works best for shelf stable products and nonperishable items. Buy enough to get you through to the next sale when the price is right and you will cut your grocery bills in half.

I can almost hear you saying already “What about perishables? There are a lot of perishables on my grocery list too.” Perishables don’t keep long and can not be purchased too far ahead without spoiling. Meat, dairy, and produce are all good examples of perishables we buy frequently. Don’t worry I will get to detailed shopping strategies for perishables in future posts. For now, try to buy what is on sale that week in the weekly sales circular. Try to limit yourself to mostly those items at rock bottom prices. You will recognize significant savings if you buy what is on sale and ignore what is not. At the very least buy more of what is on sale and less, much less, of what is not.

No time for coupons? Here is a strategy to save 30% off your next grocery shopping trip without ever clipping a single coupon.

This post is getting really long, so I’ll stop here for now. My next post will go into the rules for using supermarket coupons. I’ll be giving you some tips you may not know about for getting the most out of your manufacturer coupons.

Until then,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome to the Use Supermarket Coupons Blog

Hi everybody, and welcome to the use supermarket coupons blog. My name is Liz, and I am a grocery shopping consultant. Did you know that the average family spends between 12-15% of their income on food? Those statistics, while acurate last year are to the low side in out current economic cycle.

Sadly, after nearly two decades of moderate food inflation costs, we are currently experiencing a spike in food prices. The Food Marketing Institute has reported that the main culprits of food inflation in this current economic cycle are due mainly to:

- Higher commodity costs (corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.)
- Higher energy and transportation costs.
- Increased U.S. exports due to weaker dollar
- Rising labor and healthcare costs

The new research for food inflation in 2008 has not yet been released, but I do track prices in my local area closely. I personally have watched prices skyrocket an average of 27% in my local area in less than 6 months.

Nobody is talking about it, but the bottom line is that we are spending more everytime we shop... a lot more. My numbers were based on an average of full shelf prices of the 150 items I track closely, and do not represent a true set of statistically correct data. Still, I have enough data to say with all certainty that the trend is signifigantly higher than anybody is admitting to.

The purpose of the Use Supermarket Coupons blog is to help you fight back while prices are escalating at an alarming pace through this current inflation cycle. We will cover not just the use of supermarket coupons, couponing strategies and inexpensive meal planning, but many other ways to cut your grocery bills down to size that you may not be aware of.

Join us and watch your savings grow! Using supermarket coupons is a great way to find some extra cash in your bank account at the end of each month.