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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Frugal Grocery Spending

Today's guest blogger is Mandie, from Wheaton

You probably have seen those die-hard coupon clippers in front of you in line at the grocery store who have a coupon for everything. Have you ever wondered to yourself, "How do they find all those coupons and save so much?" Today is your lucky day. Here are the keys to couponing success!

Take the time to match your coupons to items you buy. Maximizing your savings means matching the coupons to items when they are on sale. If you save 50 cents off Ziploc bags, it is a better deal to save that 50 cents off the sale price than full price!

Horde all the coupons you can find! Coupons are found in more places than just your Sunday paper. Look for coupons online, at the grocery store, attached to products you recently bought, attached to bottles of wine, and through coupon clipping services. If you horde all the coupons you find, you'll be able to trade away coupons you'll never use for multiple copies of ones you will use. I don't have any pets, but I love to trade those coupons for diaper coupons to keep my little one dry!

Stockpile items that have a long shelf life. Shampoo, razors, canned goods, soda, soap, laundry detergent, diapers, perfume, gifts, lotion, cereal, the list could go on and on. When a good sale pops up, get a fistful of coupons and go stock up! When cereal went on sale $10 for 10 boxes at Jewel, I got 30 boxes, matched a coupon to each, and watched the cashier's jaw drop.

Rebates are the frugal couponer's dream! The triple threat: sale, coupon, rebate! Partial rebates definitely add to the savings and sometimes combined with the coupon and sale actually end up being full rebates. Find an item on sale, clip the coupon, send in the rebate. I often get items (like my contact solution) for the cost of one postage stamp!

Sometimes spending more means saving more. My local grocery store often hands out dollar off coupons if your total is higher than the stated amount. Recently, the amount was $180. For a family of three, I rarely get $180 worth of groceries at one time. However, if I am getting $20 off of $180, why not take the time to see if there are some areas of my stockpile getting low and add them to my grocery cart to bump my total up so I can save that additional $20 I would not have before? Don't let this be a trap. Only get what you have a coupon for and what is already on sale!

Don't be loyal to one store or one brand. It is so tempting to save some time and shop only at one store; however, this mentality keeps you from maximizing your savings by having multiple sales available to you at once-after all, not all sales are created equal! Ignore brand loyalty and you'll be surprised how quickly the savings add up.

Ask for the coupon policies at your store. I haven’t found a store in DuPage County that doubles coupons. If you can tell me where there is one, I’ll be your BFF for life and name my next child after you. However, some stores in DuPage County do take expired coupons! Jewel has changed its policy to no longer accept expireds after May 1, 2009, but as of my phone call to Dominck’s today, they do not have plans to eliminate their policy to accept expired coupons. Where my local Jewel takes internet printable coupons, my local Dominick’s does not. Call your local store and ask before you go. These policies do vary by store.

The more you coupon, the more you save. It is an investment of time, but just like most things in life the more you put in, the more you get out! The more you coupon the better you get.

My favorite couponing moment? The summer before my daughter String Bean was born, Target came out with a printable Gerber baby food coupon. It was for $1 off of 2 jars of baby food. My husband and I went out and looked at the options at Target. The Stage 2 jars were only 52 cents each. If you do the math, $1 off of 2 jars of Stage 2 food comes down to only 2 cents a jar! I ended up getting about 1,000 jars of baby food for 20 bucks. We have fed many babies with the Target baby food including those whose mommies visit our local food pantry. String Bean is 16 months old, the final jars we have are just now starting to expire. Now what to do with all the empty jars?

What are your tips for being frugal with your grocery bill?

Mandie blogs at Just We Moms. We're always looking for guest bloggers! If you'd like to share something with the Dupage Mamas community, send us your completed post or half-baked ideas.


McMama April 22, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

I'm pretty sure Meijer doubles coupons *sometimes*, but usually only up to $1.

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