You’ve clipped your coupons and looked at the sale ad, but are not sure what to do next! Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Each of the suggestions about coupons here and rebate apps here are great on their own, but in the end the best way to maximize your savings on groceries is to combine all the knowledge you have into a master plan! Here are my top 5 ways you can maximize your savings.
#1: Make a List
The best way to save money is to have a plan. And the best way to remember your plan is to write it down – a.k.a. make a list! Every week before my shopping trip I write down exactly what I’m going to purchase….down to the size, brand, and quantity! I spend time figuring out what I want to purchase BEFORE I head to the store and make sure all the coupons I’m planning to use are together in my envelope. Then I have my list and calculator in hand as I walk through the store to make sure I have added right for all the deals that require spending a certain amount to get money back. I always take my coupons with me because sometimes unadvertised sales pop up, but as a rule I try to stick to my list to avoid impulse purchases.
#2: Be Patient
Everything goes on sale at some point – some things more often than others, but if you wait long enough it all goes on sale. We have a blank piece of paper that hangs in our kitchen where our family writes household items that are beginning to run low. I always start my weekly grocery list from this master, but not everything makes the actual shopping list. I try to wait to purchase the items our family needs until it’s on sale and I have a coupon or rebate and because it’s on the list before it’s gone I have the luxury of watching sales a few weeks so I don’t have to pay full price.
Another thing to pay attention to is the actual sale price of items. Many items will go on sale for only 20 or 30 cents off, and unless the item is less than a dollar normally that’s not really a big savings. If you start to watch and track sales you will start to notice the LOWEST sale price available. When the items is at it’s lowest price is when you want to purchase it, so watching for things over time will help maximize your savings.
#3: Stack your Savings
Stacking your savings is the very best way to save a bundle on your groceries. Stacking means you are using multiple methods to save on the same items at the same time. These are the things you can use all at the same time….
- Sale Prices
- Manufacturer Coupons
- Store Coupons
- Rebate Apps
- Deals to get instant cash off or coupon for on your next purchase
By using two or more of these methods at the same time you are going to get items for the lowest possible price for the things your family needs!
#4: Use what you buy
It makes no sense to purchase grocery items that your family will never use, even if you can get them super cheap (the exception to this is if you plan to donate to a local charity)! So keep in mind your family’s preferences when you plan your shopping trips. It’s fun to try new things once in a while, but it’s not money well spent if it’s just going to sit in your cupboard.
Making meals for my family is NOT my favorite task – I hate cooking, but we need to eat so I making dinner has to happen! I have found that the best way for me is to make a weekly meal plan (you can read more about it here) but I don’t base my meals on what sounds good. I have a good idea of what groceries I have in the house so I plan my meals from what I have in my stock pile in the freezer and cupboard. Sometimes I make a meal based on what is on sale as well. This method is much more affordable than picking a meal off Pinterest and running to the store for those items because I know what’s in the house was most likely purchased on sale! And I know this way I’m using up the food I’ve already spent money on so it’s not going to waste.
One more tip in this area is make sure you have a place to store your items. If you want to start having a ‘stock pile’ of items that you’ve purchased at a savings make sure you have a place for it. I have space in our basement where I store our surplus of things. I have a friend that uses her laundry room for her pantry overflow. No matter where you store your food make sure you have it organized so you can see what is there. When you purchase new items make sure they go behind what you already have in the cupboard so you are using things that expire soonest first!
#5: Share with your friends
Finding sales, coupons, and deals is VERY time consuming and I don’t know about you, but I only have 24 hours in my day and most of them are already full. I have found that one of my best methods of savings is hearing what deals other people have found already for the week! There are tons of blogs and groups on Facebook where people post deals for a wide variety of stores. Do some searching and find one that is local to you and the check it every week when you are making your list. And don’t be afraid to also share the deals you find with others because you never know who might also need to purchase that for their family too!
Sharing with your friends is a good idea too – reach out locally and find out who else uses coupons and then share deals with each other. We also share coupons – they clip coupons they know my family uses if they don’t and I do the same. It takes a village to raise a family and there is no reason not to take advantage of the village mentality for groceries too!