Part 3: How to Live on Less ~ Grocery & Drug Stores
When I first went grocery shopping with my handful of coupons, I would do my normal shopping, hand over my coupons and wait with great anticipation to see how much I saved. However, I was quickly disappointed to see that I only saved a dollar or two. What was I doing wrong?
Shop the Sales
Well, for starters, I wasn’t shopping the sales. I was going in and buying what I wanted whether it was on sale or not. The key is preparation. Scan the ads before going to the store. Decide your menu for the week based on what’s on sale. For example, if the store has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for only $1.68/lb, stock up and plan on having 3 meals made from it. Luckily, you can do a lot with chicken…lol.
Pair the Sale with a Coupon
Shopping the sales is great, but it gets even better when you pair the sale with a coupon! Once your stockpile has a good foundation (we’ll learn more about this later), you will find that this is all the shopping you will need to do. I generally do not buy anything anymore if it isn’t on sale and I don’t have a coupon for it.
The deals to really get excited over are the BOGO’s (buy one get one free). I love BOGO’s. Did you know that if you have a coupon for a BOGO free product, and that product is on sale at the store for BOGO Free you will get both for free?? This totally perplexed me. 2 for Free? Well, the store takes the hit on one for the sale at the store, and the manufacturer takes the hit for the second one from the coupon! How sweet is that.
Also, many stores allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. This essentially allows you to double your savings. This is important to me, as in our area of Florida, no stores double coupons. How do you know whether it is a store or manufacturer coupon? Well, all manufacturer coupons will say that on the top of them (or somewhere on the coupon). Store coupons will say ‘Target coupon’ or ‘CVS coupon’ and so on.
You can find the weekly store matchups right here on Mojo every week. We do the work for you.
Change Your Thinking
In the beginning, I had to have a paradigm shift in my thinking about how to save money on groceries. I was brought up with the notion that if you buy in bulk, that’s how you will save. So, I would use my 25¢ off coupon on the large items, thinking I was doing it correctly. Wrong. When using coupons, buy the smallest size possible to maximize savings. Having multiple coupons will allow you to buy more of a product you will go through. For example, if you have a $1 off Deli lunch meat (with no size restrictions), ask for $1’s worth of the meat. It is now free. If you have 4 of these coupons, you will get $4’s worth for free. Whereas, if you bought a pound for $5, you will end up spending $4. I hope this makes sense.
Drug Store Games
I love to shop at drug stores. I didn’t always. I used to think that CVS was overpriced…that makes me laugh now.
The 3 major drug stores all have a rewards program – CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. CVS calls them Extra Care Bucks and you need to have a card to get these. Walgreens calls them Register Rewards and Balance Rewards. Rite Aid has +Up Rewards and Single Check Rebates.
No matter which store you have near your home, you can benefit tremendously from these programs. It is with these programs that we now get our personal care items for free! Yes, I said free.
Here’s how it works. Each week the stores will have a few products that will qualify for one of their rewards. For example, CVS this week has the Blade 5 razor for $6.99 with a $6.99 ECB. You would pay the cashier for the razor ($6.99) and on your receipt, you will receive an ECB for $6.99. This is good towards your next purchase. In essence, you get the product for free.
Now, say we had a coupon for $1 off that same razor. We would pay the cashier $5.99 and get back $6.99 – thus, making a dollar. We call these money makers! These are what make us smile…lol.
Each week, go to the drug stores and take advantage of these deals. This will help you build your stockpile for the least amount of money. I can’t tell you the last time we spent money on shampoo, deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes and such.
Playing the Drug Store games alone has cut a tremendous amount of money off our monthly spending. Take the time to really understand your stores reward system. Your wallet will thank you.
If you missed the previous entries to this series, you can see them here: