According to recent research, the average American family spends around $315 to $515 per month on groceries.
This figure fluctuates based on a few different factors, including the size of your family, your dietary preferences, and the city where you live.
If this sounds like a lot, that's because it is. If you spend on the high end of the scale, around $500 per month, that's $6,000 per year! This number can be alarming to anyone, but new parents are especially cost-conscious.
While a baby is an incredible gift, there's no denying that your bundle of joy can also be expensive! However, couponing tips can help you conserve as much money as possible in the checkout line.
Today, we're sharing 11 of our go-to steps that can help you shop smarter and save big!
1. Plan Before You Go
There's a reason that grocery stores put their most enticing deals at the very front of the store. They want to catch your attention and throw you off guard as soon as you walk in!
Before you know it, you're stockpiling your cart with 2-for-1 boxes of macaroni and cheese, half-priced soda bottles and other non-essentials that you don't exactly need.
This is why it pays to come prepared. Clip coupons throughout the week according to what you need, where your budget lies, and what's on sale. Then, the night before you know you're going to make a big grocery haul, make a list of every single item you intend to buy.
If you really want to go the extra mile, you can even map out your shopping journey according to your store's layout. This way, you won't spend an hour with frozen food thawing in your cart.
Finally, when you head to the store, be resolute and stick to the list. Many couponers prefer to bring their internet or newspaper clippings in a binder, organized by their meal plans and recipes for the upcoming week. When you only look for what you need, you're less likely to be tempted by flash deal offers designed to entice hungry shoppers.
2. Learn These Four Price Points
Do you just grab what you need off the store shelf, regardless of what the price tag says? One of our best extreme couponing tips is to take a second look to the price points you're following.
For each item in your pantry, there are four main price points that you need to know if you want to save a ton. Write these numbers down for everyday staples that you always keep in stock. Let's take a look at what they include.
The Typical Price
This is the average price you'd expect to pay for the item. For instance, you might know that a box of your favorite cereal at your local supermarket is usually around $3.00.
The Maximum Price
This is a price that you set, not the grocery store. What's the most that you're willing to pay for that box of cereal? Determine to only buy this item at this price point once or twice. If it stays consistently this high, it's time to swap brands or look for an alternative.
The Ideal Price
This is the price you expect to pay for the item when there's a promotion going on. Usually, you'll reach this price when you have an accompanying coupon and a sale is going on! If you can combine these discounts and reach your ideal price, go ahead and stock up!
The Rock-Bottom Price
This is the lowest you've ever found the item for in the store. Make a note of it and keep an eye out. If that price ever comes up again, stockpile your pantry, especially if it's a family favorite!
3. Layer Your Coupons Correctly
You've got a great coupon for $10 off of $30 and you can't wait to use it.
In your excitement, however, that coupon gets lost in the shuffle. Once all of your other coupons are applied, your total only comes to $28. Now, your purchase no longer qualifies for your best and biggest coupon!
To avoid this, try to put big-ticket deals on the top of your coupon pile. This way, they can be applied immediately and you have a greater chance of scoring some major discounts.
4. Optimize Your Overages
One of our best coupon tips? Stay on top of your overages.
These are the surpluses that you can reap when your coupon exceeds the sale price of an item. For instance, you might have a coupon for $5 off a bag of potato chips, but they're on sale this week for $4. That extra dollar is considered an overage.
While it would be ideal to get actual cash back when this happens, most stores aren't that generous. However, many will allow you to apply the overages toward other items that you're buying. This can help reduce the overall price of your bill, for no extra effort!
5. Invest in Great Coupon Storage
We've all seen them: those extreme couponers who only shop on certain days and keep all of their coupons in a folder that looks like it's meant to hold baseball cards.
You might have shaken your head at them in the past, but now you realize how wise these shoppers really are!
If you clip coupons for long enough, you'll soon discover that keeping track of all of them can be a total nightmare. If you lose track of what you have, you could miss expiration dates and negate this whole effort.
When you're ready to really start saving, you'll need to invest in a coupon organizational system. Today, you can find myriad different kinds of coupon binders designed specifically for this task. When it's time to sort, you can choose from a variety of methods, including:
- Organizing alphabetically by product (e.g. "P" for pizza)
- Organizing alphabetically by brand name (e.g. "D" for DiGiorno)
Whichever method you choose, remember to sort each category by expiration date so you can always use the most time-sensitive coupons first.
6. Use a Copier
Did you know that you can use more than one coupon if you buy more than one product? For instance, if you stock up on 12 frozen entrees, most stores will let you use 12 individual coupons.
You don't have to limit yourself to one of each item just because that's how many coupons you have. This is where a good-quality printer and copier will come in handy.
If you get your coupons strictly from the newspaper, you might consider subscribing to multiple local publications to make sure you always have access to the inserts you need. Extreme couponers have been known to hold multiple subscriptions to periodicals across their city. Some even join coupon exchange clubs and mail each other deals from around the world!
7. Stack Manufacturer and Store Coupons
Think you can't use a manufacturer coupon for a certain product because you already have a store coupon for it? Think again!
Most stores will allow you to stack these two different kinds of promotions on top of each other, which can amplify your savings potential. How does it work? Say Wal-Mart is holding a promotion for a certain brand of frozen waffles, offering $1 off each box. Yet, you also have a coupon for $1 off that exact same brand.
When you stack those coupons, you can enjoy $2 off the regular price of your favorite breakfast item! If you're looking for store-specific coupons and promotions, check their website first. You can usually find deals here, along with digital-only coupons for online viewers. You can also pick up an in-store flyer to learn about that week's great buys.
8. Learn Your Store
There's nothing like spending hours preparing for a store visit, only to find that the cashier can't accept some or all of your coupons. Before you begin this journey, it helps to learn the ropes.
Visit your store's website or speak to someone at the customer service desk to make sure you clearly understand their coupon policies. A few of the key questions to ask and look for include:
- Will you double manufacturer coupons?
- Do you price match with competing stores?
- Do you give rain checks if a sale item is out of stock?
- Do you accept competitor coupons?
Understanding these answers can help you better plan and prepare your couponing strategy down the road!
9. Don't Skip Rewards Cards
You don't have to load your key-chain down with them, but those tiny plastic fobs can deliver some major savings! If you frequent a certain grocery store often, go ahead and sign up to join their rewards club. Most of the time, this is a free incentive, designed to reward loyal shoppers.
Each time you check out, you'll simply ask the cashier to scan your rewards card. Usually, you'll see your total go down right before your eyes!
Stores will routinely mark down certain items just for cardholders, and many will also offer online-only deals to those who link their card virtually. Some will even mail extra promotions when they're running a big special. This is a simple step that doesn't take long but can do wonders to amplify your coupon-cutting adventures.
10. Buy Up to the Limit
Some stores don't set any limits at all on how many of a certain item you can buy when it's on sale. For instance, if you want to stockpile bottles of toothpaste when they dip to below $1 per tube, you're free to clear the entire shelf if you want!
However, other stores will clearly mark their limits. This is to prevent shoppers from hoarding the deals all for themselves.
Either way, when one of your beloved favorite items goes on sale for a great deal, go ahead and buy as many as your store will permit you to put in your cart. If you know you're going to use it, this is a money-saving tactic that simply makes sense.
Of course, don't take a gamble and buy a ton of something simply because it's on sale. Ultimately, the old adage rings true: It isn't a great deal if you don't need it! If you wind up disliking the item, you're left with too much product on your hands and less money.
11. Learn Day-Specific Markdowns
Does your local deli mark down whole turkey breasts Tuesday after 4:00 p.m.? If so, you can maximize your savings by using a store coupon during this specific time frame!
It might take a little while to learn these timely tricks, but it never hurts to ask. Most employees are willing to share the times and the days that you're likely to find their products at the lowest price point. Usually, these time limits are placed on perishable goods, such as warm entrees and picnic salads.
They'll normally go on sale when they're nearing their expiration date, so be sure to check any carton you buy. Remember: You can freeze many items, including meat and bread, on the day they expire and they'll still be fresh when you thaw them out later.
12. Bonus! Use an app
Does the idea of carrying around dozens of coupons not sound appealing? Don't worry, there is an app for everything. Our favorite couponing app is Ibotta. All you do is add items in the app you want to redeem, then scan your receipt and it applies the cash back to your account. A recent purchase of $61 earned $4.80 back. That's amazing savings!
It got even better this year because now it's compatible with most grocery pickup and delivery services. They even have some amazon offers. Let that sink in busy parents. You can pickup your groceries in 5 minutes and still save money! All you have to do is link your account and add offers through the Ibotta app, then stay in the app to shop or the Ibotta browser extension on a computer. If you use our referral link above, and redeem your first coupon offer within 7 days, you get a bonus $20 cash back!
Put These Couponing Tips Into Practice
You might not become a coupon wizard overnight, and that's OK! It takes a while to master this art but once you learn it, you'll be glad you did!
It's incredible to think how spending just a few minutes downloading and printing or snipping out a coupon can save you a significant amount of money down the road. While time is a luxury that most new parents don't have in abundance, it's worth taking a few minutes each week to perform this task.
Ready to try your hand at these couponing tips? Looking for more inspiration as you venture out into this new journey called parenthood? We have all of the tips and tricks you're looking for.
Our small business is dedicated to helping parents embrace every aspect of their upcoming arrival, with special emphasis on baby shower products and supplies. Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and the ways we can help.