By Karla Helvie
Over the past few weeks, I have come home from Meijer having spent well above my preferred weekly grocery allowance. I know that this is a symptom of increasing food prices, but this is the first time I have really seen its effects on my checkbook. With experts predicting prices will remain high for two more years, many people—including myself–are looking for ways to reduce their grocery costs.
One way of reducing grocery costs is clipping coupons, which is time-consuming and tedious. However, seven years ago Stephanie Nelson created a website called www.couponmom.com in order to help others collect coupons easily and quickly. With this system, it is possible to reduce your grocery bills by 50% without spending hours looking through newspapers. As food prices increase, her site is gaining more and more users.
The site has several different options and ways of saving. My favorite option allows you to see what is on sale at your local grocery store that week so you can match those items with available coupons, allowing you to save twice over. You can also see what is on sale at national stores such as Target, Rite-Aid, Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens for that week. Another option is looking through lists of the site’s coupons, which are available to print and use in any store. Along with this, you can also sign up to receive email newsletters from different brands, such as Eversave and Coolsavings, which then give you access to additional coupons.
Couponmom gives four steps for users to follow in order to save 50% on groceries:
- Plan. Planning your list before you go to the store will reduce your grocery spending. Plan your meals using sale items from the weekly list, paying special attention to meat, chicken and fish sales. A plan also allows you to complete your shopping more quickly and efficiently, which has been shown to reduce the amount of money spent on groceries.
- Get more than one set of coupons. Trade coupons with a friend, ask friends and neighbors who throw their coupons away if they would give them to you, or buy extra copies of the newspaper when there are many coupons you use that week. You can use these extra coupons for staple items for your household, as well as for items you buy to give to charity.
- Stock up on products you use when they are Best Deals. Buy several of the same item when the prices are low and coupons available, which will prevent you from ever paying full price for staple goods. Your spending may remain constant while you begin to stock up, but will noticeably reduce as your stockpile increases.
- Try being brand flexible. Buy brands that give you the best deals that week. Compare brands before you shop–many store brands are unadvertised sale items, but are listed on the Best Deals list on the site.