Coupons are an excellent way to save money on your grocery bills, but collecting coupons is time consuming, while using them can be cumbersome. You may not be able to find a coupon for the items you need. Moreover, going overboard with coupons can cause you to experience evil stares in the line at the grocery store. Who wants that?
There are plenty of other ways that you can save on your groceries without excessive use of coupons. Here are a few to consider.
- Bulk Purchasing – Bulk purchasing is an excellent strategy for things that you normally buy, as long as you can use that amount. If you are feeding two or three teenage boys, a 10-pound bag of potatoes can go quickly. Purchasing meat in bulk and freezing portions for later use is quite cost-effective, especially with the recent increase in meat prices.
Clubs such as Sam’s or Costco can save you even more money as long as you use them enough to recoup the membership costs. However, you can achieve similar results just by buying bulk at regular grocery stores during sales.
- Loyalty Cards – Both grocery stores and clubs now offer loyalty cards that allow you special sale prices, further discounts, and in some cases, personalized coupons for items that you regularly purchase. Most grocery store cards are free with a simple registration and easy to use by keying in your phone number or waving your card at the checkstand.
Some of these cards offer discounts on gas with captive or local stations. However, make sure not to pay a higher price for items or buy more items than you need just to achieve a fuel discount. Stores have done their homework and will attempt to lure you into extra purchases.
- Clearance Racks – All grocery stores have a clearance rack for items that are being discontinued or that are about to go out of date. Take advantage of any of those items that you will use.
- Check Per Unit Prices – Many stores will offer per unit pricing on the shelf tags – check them for the best bargains. It is not necessarily with the largest size that is offered.
- Consider Alternative Stores – Big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Target are increasing their selection of traditional grocery store items, and dollar stores such as Dollar General carry some grocery items. The selection may be limited compared to grocery stores, but if they happen to carry what you need, prices are often superior.
If you live in an area where it is an option, you can also consider online grocery shopping. This is increasingly available in metro areas and can sometimes be done through smartphone apps. You can save the time of walking the grocery aisles and eliminate the gas costs of traveling to the store and back. What about the cost of the delivery fee? Stores like Wal-Mart waive these fees if your order is of reasonable size (often $50 or so). Of course, you’ll have to forgo the thrill of squeezing the melons yourself.
- Comparison Shop – You do not have to subscribe to the newspaper to get sale circulars anymore. Most are available online, and some have special discounts through electronic coupons or downloads. Do your comparison-shopping before you head to the stores to decrease the chance of impulse buying. Take advantage of any price-check guarantees.
- Avoid Name Brands – Store brands cost considerably less and can be just as good as brand name products. If you are leery of store brands, try one during a sale for a cheap evaluation. If you do not like it, you will not have paid much for the savings attempt.
Coupons are a useful part of a grocery bill reduction strategy, but they are not the only tool you have available. Try these other methods as part of a balanced attack on your grocery bill, and watch the savings accumulate without giving the checkout staff heartburn.