Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stretching the Food Dollars: Coupons

Yesterday, I talked about learning to cook from scratch as my #1 way to stretch my food dollars. So, hopefully I have convinced you all to cook now. However, you can still spend a ton at the grocery if you are not careful. One way to cut that is expense it to use coupons. Using coupons effectively to save a lot is a bit of a game. The goal of the game is to “play” your coupon when the item is on sale at it lowest. Sometimes this even gets you the item for free or just pennies. It is a bit time consuming as you need to search out the coupons, know your local stores' coupon and price matching policies (which regularly change) and scour each store's weekly sales flyer. Then you compile a list and coupon envelope for each store you plan to go to. To learn how to do this in more detail, Google "how to use coupons." There are many helpful sites. Many want you to buy their system or subscribe to their service that tells you what coupons to use where and when. One of these is The Grocery Game. They watch the sale cycles and give you a list of items that are on sale and which exact coupons to us on them. I did subscribe to this for about 6 months. I followed it diligently and got some great bargains. It was well worth the price to subscribe to the service. Another site that has much of the same information for free is the Deal Seeking Mom blog.

For me, I have found that coupons save me the most money on toiletries and beauty products. As far as food, coupons save the most on convenience foods which, even with coupons, usually cost more than cooking from scratch. There are rarely coupons for pantry staples. Clipping and sorting coupons and tracking store sales takes tons of time. It can save you quite a bit, but I feel like I save just as much or more money cooking from scratch and just skipping the convenience foods. I think cooking from scratch takes less time, too, than couponing. It is good to try, though, and see for yourself if the coupons are worth your effort for your family. You may find that you can save a huge chunk of money on the things you buy. Even though I don't do this on a weekly basis anymore, I still periodically coupon and deal hunt at CVS and Walgreens to stock up on toiletries. The savings are too good to pass up.

Tomorrow, I will discuss some of the places I have found to get food at a bargain price.

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