Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beginings of Frugality

I want to start off holding the hands of those of you new to deal seeking as I have had many people hold my hand as I learned the basics. There are many ways to approach deal seeking, but for this post, I want to use the K.I.S.S. principle - keep it simple, sweetie!

To begin deal seeking, we will start at the easiest place to save money - our grocery budget. I challenge you to sit down with your checkbook and tally up how much money you spent last month on groceries (include household items and toiletries if you wish - I do since it is just easier that way). You may be surprised. Make it your goal to spend LESS this month. You choose how much less. Maybe aim for 10% less or get intense and strive for 40% less or more!

Here is another homework assignment. Sit down with your calendar. Mark in all the meals you will be eating at home for the upcoming week. Pull out the circular from the grocery store (you may choose to shop at more than one place to get deals on specific items with loss leaders). Start writing in menus for each meal for the week using the items that are on sale at your grocery store. Most stores have "loss leaders" each week - items the store is willing to take a loss on to gain your business in hopes that you spend more elsewhere. Once you complete your menu for the week, create a shopping list from your menu. Check your pantry to see what you already have. Don't forget toiletries that you may need.

Now that you have your list based on the sale items in your menus for the week, you are armed and ready to go shopping! Just by doing this small step, you can save money, but if you want to increase your savings, keep reading! It's coupon time!

Now is the time when you can scour through coupons to find ones you can use! The Sunday newspaper is a great way to score a lot of coupons. There are tons available online as well. There are also sites that load coupons directly onto your shopping card so there is no need to clip at all! Here are some good sites for coupons:
  • - load coupons to your card
  • - load coupons to your card - savings go directly into UPromise account to save/pay for college
Take a few minutes to research the coupon policies for your stores. For example, my local Kroger doubles coupons up to 50 cents and triples coupons to 29 cents. They accept coupons I print at home (some stores do not) and allow coupons on the Kroger card to be used with paper coupons allowing some items to be nearly free. For example, let's say a box of cereal is on sale for $3.00. I have a paper coupon for 50 cents off said cereal plus I have a coupon on my Kroger card for 75 cents off this cereal. I would save a total of $1.75 off of the cereal that is already on sale making it just $1.25 - more than half off.

Once you know what you want to buy, what coupons you will use, and what your store will allow, you are almost ready to go. Grab some water and a snack and head out the door. It is always unwise to grocery shop while hungry! Make sure you STICK TO YOUR LIST! Each week you do this, you will get better about making your list accurate so you don't remember something else last minute.

In a later post, I will discuss how helpful a shopping journal can be. Good luck and happy shopping! I'd be curious to know how much you save in a trip. Kroger prints the percentage saved on the receipt. On average, I save around 30 - 35% in a trip. My best so far has been 46%! Happy saving!


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