Here are some tips on how to save at your local grocery store:
Visit your store’s website. Check to see if their coupon policy is online and read through it. If they have any clubs, magazines, etc. available make sure you sign up for them.
Find out what days your store flyer comes out. Some grocery sales run from Sunday to Saturday and some run Wednesday to Tuesday.
Call the store and ask to speak to the customer service manager. Ask her what types of coupons they accept, if they accept printable coupons (and if they can be in black and white or must be in color), if you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on one item, and if there are any additional ways to save.
When you visit the store find out if they have a kids club. Some grocery stores give free cookies or treats to kids. Ask if yours does.
Ask if there are incentives for using reusable shopping bags. Some stores give a discount on your order if you bring your own bags.
Check to see if your store has a Catalina machine at the register. Catalina machines print out coupons with your receipt. If your grocery story has one make sure you get any coupons that print out during your transaction.
Senior Citizen Discounts. Many grocery stores have a specific day of the week where senior citizens can get a discount on their entire grocery purchase. Some stores the age is as low as 55. This is not limited to grocery stores. Our local thrift store offers 10% off on Mondays to senior citizens.
Did you know?
Most stores will run sales like 10 for $10 or 5 for $1. Some stores require that you purchase the listed number of items and some don’t. If your store has no requirement, you could purchase just 1 or 2 and still get the discounted price!
Some stores ring up their buy one, get one free sales at half price (like $2.50 and $2.50) and some ring them up at full price and zero ($5 and $0). Find out how your store rings up their BOGO sales. This will help you when you plan your shopping list.
Some stores will give you the item for free if it rings up incorrectly. Always check the shelf price and your receipt to make sure you are charged correctly. If you weren’t, let the customer service desk know.
Find a blogger that covers the stores you shop at by searching for the name of the store + blogger; to find a blog that covers Publix deals you would search ‘Publix Blog’. Bloggers do the work for you and will tell you what deals there are, what coupons you need, and extra ways to save.
Don’t Fall For These Grocery Store Tricks
Stores have tricks they use to get you to browse longer and add more items to your cart. By knowing the tricks that grocery stores use, you can avoid falling for them and save money at the grocery store without even using coupons.
Sales flyers – Not everything in the sales flyer is actually on sale. Manufacturers will pay grocery stores extra to feature their items in the ad even if they aren’t offering the products at a discount. Not everything in the flyer is a great deal.
Fresh flowers – Grocers put the flowers near the entrance to the store for a reason. Seeing and smelling flowers increase your mood by as much as 40%. A great mood could equal a lax wallet.
Symbolic – Grocers put items together in pretty packaging to make you buy more. In the fall you might see apples sold in cute, handled bags. The bags look farm fresh for a reason.
Freshly sprayed produce – Those cool water jets that they spray on produce aren’t just to keep the produce fresh. It also inspires you to pick more produce because it looks inviting; like it just came from the farm.
Hard to find items – Sometimes the grocery store hides items on purpose. Instead of making an item easy to find, like a specific type of cheese, they will hide it to make you look harder and hopefully put more varieties in your cart.
End cap displays – Most customers go around the perimeter of a store when they shop. They add special end cap displays to entice you to go down that aisle and add more to your cart. They will also make you think everything on the end cap is part of the weekly sale, but in reality they have added extra items that compliment the sale item. If peanut butter is on sale, you might find full priced jelly on the same end cap.
Hot coffee – Think that coffee is really free? Nope! They hope you will fix yourself a cup which will make you walk slower and browse more.
Banks and ATMs – they are there to remind you to get out more cash so you can spend more.
Bakery – It isn’t near the front of the store for convenience. By seeing fresh baked items, they hope you will buy things you weren’t planning on.
Pharmacy – They add a pharmacy to a grocery store because you will have to wait to get your prescriptions filled. Why not wait and browse and buy things you don’t ‘need’ while they fill your prescription?
Dairy products and meat – These are located at the back of the store because you NEED them. You walk past eye appealing displays to get to them. You might just add more to your cart. Have you ever said, “I went in for a gallon of milk and spent $40?” This is why.
Checkouts – They really do put the candy and small toys at the checkout counter to drive you crazy and drive your bill up as you try to keep kids entertained as you check out.
Kid’s eye level – Have you ever wondered why all the kid friendly snacks are toward the bottom of the shelf? It’s because little kids will see the festive packaging and add it to your cart.
Generic items – People that buy generic products will hunt for them. Stores put them out of the line of sight so they don’t encourage others to purchase them.
Free samples – These are another marketing gimmick to get you to purchase items you had no intention of adding to your cart before you tasted them.
Eye level – The eye level space is prime real estate for brands. Most people don’t look at the top or bottom shelves when they are shopping. Brands actually pay a premium to be featured at eye level.
Convenient packaging – Grocery stores will offer food packaged in convenient sizes to make you think they are a great deal. You’ll find pre-cut chicken and pre-made hamburger patties in the meat department and new products on the shelf that are marked as “on the go” packages. You can buy the bigger packages and make your own smaller servings and save a good bit of money.
Price gimmicks – Items are priced 2/$5 and 10/$10 to trick your mind. The mind thinks getting 10 items for $10 is better than getting 10 items for $1 each.
Should You Buy Generic Products?
Generic products are items lacking a name brand. Many stores, such as Walmart, have their own brand of generic items. Sometimes you will find generic items at a substantial savings compared to their name brand counterpart, sometimes it is just a few cents cheaper, and sometimes it even costs more!
Most shoppers are of the mind set that you have to buy generic products to save money, but couponers know that the generic is often not the best price. When you combine a sale on the name brand product with a coupon, you can usually get the name brand product cheaper than you would pay for the generic product.
When you need the product now and you don’t have a coupon, generic is usually the cost effective choice. Generic products have come a long way in the past couple of decades. Most generic products are packaged by the manufacturer of the name brand products and almost every generic line of products is backed by a money back guarantee. If you don’t like the product you can return the unused portion to the store’s service desk for a full refund.
Always check the prices for both generic and name brand products before you buy them. I once found General Mills Wheat Chex for 50 cents less than the generic version and that was without a coupon.
Check products for special offers
When shopping for your weekly groceries and household items, always be on the lookout for products with special offers. This includes specially marked packages, packages that contain a bonus item, and packages that have a peelie coupon. I always look through all the products on the shelf before I add one to my cart.
Determine Cost Per Ounce
The best way to determine if a product is a good deal is by it’s cost per ounce. Walmart (and many other stores) print it clearly for you on the label, but it is also very easy to figure out on your own. Take the final cost of the product, after any applicable coupons, and divide it by the ounces it contains. If a product is $2 after coupon and it is 10 oz in size, you divide $2 by 10 and you know it is $0.20 per ounce. If it doesn’t have an ounce listed you can find out the cost by using the serving size in the nutrition label; just divide the cost by the serving size.
Sometimes the smaller product costs less per ounce then the larger product. You would never know this if you didn’t take the time to figure out the cost per ounce.
Check Multiple Stores for the Best Price on Everyday Items
If you only shop at one grocery store you might be paying too much. Not all grocery stores price items the same and it’s important to know the shelf price (this is the non sale price) of your everyday items at different stores. I was recently in Publix and found that the same exact Folgers Coffee Singles were $1.61 more than what I pay for them at Walmart. I mentally recorded the price difference in my head. If I only shopped at Publix that’s is an extra $6.44 a month or $83.72 a year, and that’s just on the coffee singles!
Not all Walmart stores are priced the same. Each store sets its price based on competition. I’ve found that products are 2-10% cheaper at a Walmart 30 minutes up the road because that store has more grocery competition than my local Walmart has. If I wasn’t pricing my everyday items I never would have noticed!
Compare the prices of 20-25 items that you regularly purchase at two to four grocery stores. This will help you determine which store has the lowest regular prices.
Tips on Shopping with Kids
If you take your kids with you to the store, here are some tips on how to get them involved and occupied:
Reward them with a free treat. Find out if your store gives out free food to the kids. My local store’s bakery gives free cookies to the kids and the deli gives a free chicken finger.
Let them use their own cart. If your store doesn’t provide mini-grocery carts for the kids then consider bringing your own. This way kids can help you shop!
Give them a list. Give your child their own grocery list and ask them to help you find the items that are on the list. You can also give them the sales circular with the items circled. Let them hunt for the items and mark them off the circular.
Shop after a meal. Take your kids to the grocery store after breakfast or lunch. They won’t be as whiny, tired, or demanding with a full stomach.
Bring snacks. Carry a snack with you in case they get hungry in the store.
Consider letting them pick out one special snack for being good.
Bring something to entertain them at the register. Checking out with coupons can be time consuming. Add in tired kids and it could be a recipe for a stressful experience. Bring special toys or an electronic device and only give it to your children when you are at the register. This will keep them entertained while you keep an eye on your purchase and coupons.
Shop Alone And Take A Snack
If at all possible, go to the store alone. Taking extra mouths with you (that includes your children or your spouse) means you might end up buying things that you weren’t planning on purchasing. You might also get distracted and miss a clearance or special buy deal at the store. By shopping alone, you are able to concentrate on your list and are in control of what is purchased.
You need to eat a full meal before you go to the grocery store and bring along a snack from home. One of the biggest budget busters is going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You are more likely to put items you don’t need in your cart because they look tasty to you at that moment. I encourage you to bring a snack from home so that you can eat when you feel hungry. If you wait to purchase something in the store then you might spend more on a snack than you had planned.