Read these 45 Money Saving Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Grocery tips and hundreds of other topics.
There's a great new coupon site on the Internet called NestEggz .
This site allows you to print coupons out from your computer (up to 3 each page at a time) for redemption at your local store. The coupons you print have a "cents off value" at the store and a "NestEggz credit value". When you redeem them you get .10 off the item purchased at the checkout. When the coupon completes it's trip (about 4 weeks) through the clearinghouse process, your NestEggz savings account will be credited for the amount stated at the time of printing. In addition, for the first 12 months your account will earn 15% interest!! You can ask for the balance of your account at any time and it will be paid by check.
Here's an example: There's a NestEggz coupon for Motts Apple Juice. $1 NestEggz credit value and .10 coupon value. My store sells Motts for $1.50 a bottle. At the checkout the cashier scans the coupon and deducts .10. In about 2-4 weeks you will see the $1 NestEggz credit applied to your account. Ask for your balance to be paid at any time after it has been credited to your account. You just bought that bottle of Motts apple juice for .40 --a great deal.
This is a unique concept in coupons that I think you will love. Please visit their site.
When I first started on the Internet looking for coupons, I ran across numerous sites promoting coupon books for prices ranging from free to $24.95. These books promise to let you choose your coupons and for a SASE and a nominal handling fee each time they will send you $10 or so of your allotted coupons.
The problem is their lists are limited (not updated often) and you have to choose 35-40 brands/items of the coupons you think you will need. No guarantees that you will really get what you have selected at the beginning of your list. It's truly better to trade directly with someone who has the coupons you need or to pay a small handling fee for the individual coupons you desire.
Have a favorite product but are short on coupons?
One way to get more is to contact the company you patronize-normally there's a phone number or website located on the package. Ask if they have a mailing list for coupons and if they have any rebates/offers available currently. Many times they do and can provide information. Sometimes they even send out coupons for free items just for being a loyal customer. Don't be afraid to ask, the worst they can say is no.
You can actually reduce your bills even further using coupons. Find a coupon that's good on ANY SIZE of a product. (be sure that there are no exceptions with trial sizes, etc.) Buy the smallest size available (normally travel size) and the excess ends up being applied towards the balance of your checkout bill. For example, say you hold a $1 coupon good on any size of a shampoo. That shampoo can be found with the travel sizes at a price of .69. When you check out, the $1 coupon comes off the total leaving a .31 credit balance that is applied towards your total.
*Note, verify your store's coupon redemption policy first. Each store has different rules.
There's an attractive yet extremely functional coupon organizer out there called the Price Planner. If you go to couponorganizer.com you can view a picture of it. It looks like an everyday planner, yet it's designed with coupons in mind.
As described on the website, the "Priceplanner is a smart, compact, durable and easy-to-use coupon organizer, price comparison book and day planner all in one! Loaded with money saving features, Priceplanner will help you maximize your savings - even without coupons! "
One way to get more for your money is to actually look at the packages on the shelf.
Many times manufacturers run special promotions. Stock is rotated different ways at stores so it's always a good idea to check behind the "front" items on the shelf for special packages. Many times you will find products with promos like 25% more free, buy 1 get 1 free, free after rebate, buy this product get a coupon for xxxx free. It's worth the extra 3 seconds to look for the better offering.
There are manners to be displayed when using coupons.
Please be polite to your cashier. You get better service when you're kind instead of rude.
When purchasing items with "free coupons" it helps to write in the price of the item in the price box of the coupon while shopping. This saves time at the checkout. Along the same lines, if the cashier looks at the slip to verify the price of the item every time, you might want to consider placing all the free items at the end of the belt so lookup is easier.
Keeping coupons facing the same direction will save time when the cashier scans them. Also place "free item" coupons at the top of the stack because these take the most time if they need to verify the price.
Do not try to pass expired coupons unless it's the store's policy to accept them.
If the cashier refuses to accept a coupon and it should be rightfully accepted, politely ask for the supervisor or store manager. Calmly tell them about your loyalty to the store (if you are) and explain why you feel it should be accepted. Most of the time the supervisor will approve it. If they do please thank them for their time.
Following these few simple tips may make your next shopping trip quicker and easier.
If you have a SuperTarget store close to you, check out their website on Sundays when they publish printable coupons. If you don't have a SuperTarget you still may be able to use these coupons at stores where they accept competitor's coupons.
Want another way to save money in addition to coupons?
Save your labels. Try to save all your name brand labels and your receipts. Many rebates offered require one or both of these. If you aren't into refunding, trade the UPCs/labels for coupons you can use. Numerous boards are available on the Internet. You can find some of these under my links. I get many free item coupons by trading away my labels.
Your goal is to save money. You can save money with rebates and you can save money with coupons so why not do both? If you see an item that has a rebate-- especially if it is free after rebate-- try finding a coupon for it too. If it's free after rebate the coupon is extra money in your pocket after taxes and postage, of course. Try to do this with all rebates.
See if your store has a mailing list. This could be disguised under various names such as VIP program, frequent shopper program, check cashing application, a store credit card, etc. Adding your name to this list could entitle you to future special promotions and discounts.
Set a limit on what you're willing to pay for a given item and don't go over that amount. For instance, I refuse to pay more than $2.50 for a 12-can pack of soda. A friend of mine won't pay more than $1 a pound for ground beef. When you get stubborn about saving, you'll see results! If you find the price you're looking for, stock up.
Are you brand loyal? Do you only use particular products? Tired of only getting 1 coupon for your favorite items in the coupon section when you really need 4 or 5?
Then why not try trading with local friends and relatives. I have gotten many extras that I needed this way.
No one local? Try some of the internet trade boards, like www.mycoupons.com and their coupon/rebate swap board. A wealth of information can be found there.
You can only save money with coupons if you know where they are when you need them. Organization is the key!
Although you can organize manually, I highly recommend the freely available Ca$h In program. You log in your coupons manually, but then can sort by brand, amount, expiration date, category, etc. The program keeps a log of your savings and tells you when you have coupons expiring. It's an easy way to make your shopping list. See my list of websites to get this free software download.
Allocate your groceries.
For example, you go to the store and buy:
2 whole chickens (on sale of course), 1 bag (2 lb.) of carrots, 1 lb. celery, 4 cans tuna, 1 (large) onion, spaghetti noodles (1 lb.), 2 1/2- 3 lb. ground beef, and 4 to 6 cans tomato sauce. First, as soon as you get home, cut up the chicken! You always need to have on hand: gallon size Ziploc-type bags. Cut the legs and thighs off both chickens. Put in one bag together and label these "fryer chicken". This is one meal.
In a smaller bag (maybe a quart, or even a sandwich bag will do) put all the livers from both chickens (they usually throw in a few extras- chickens really do only have one liver each) this is another, quick meal. Before you scoff at this, keep in mind that KFC charges $2.79 for an order of these!
Next, with a big sharp knife or kitchen scissors cut the 2 chickens in half right down the breastbone center. Haggle the back off roughly. Now take the neck, gizzards, hearts, and all the extras that a lot of people throw away, and put all of that in a Ziploc gallon bag with any extra skin and backs too. This sealed bag can now be labeled "chicken soup".
Next cut the breast meat off the bone but purposely leave a little meat behind. The breast meat de-boned will be used to fix those fancy meals like the chicken breasts in a thick sauce, for chicken parmesan, stir fry...use your imagination.
The extra along with the breastbones will be put in the "soup" bag.
Then similarly allocate the other items. Separate four or five sticks of celery and four or five carrots and cut off 1/3 of the big onion, put all these together in the bag to make the chicken soup. (This keeps someone from eating them if you label it "do not eat--for chicken soup recipe"--)
Separate the ground beef. Put 1/2 to 2/3 lb. in a Ziploc quart bag and label this as "meat for spaghetti sauce". Put in the freezer, as you would do with all the chicken you were not fixing right away.
Put three cans of tomato sauce in a special place and mark it as "homemade sauce for spaghetti" and then mark the remaining can "for meatloaf".
Then 1/4 and 1/4 of the onion go each to the meatloaf and to the spaghetti sauce.
Whatever is left of onion gets chopped up with the tuna for tuna salad, along with that piece of celery you had saved. The other celery and carrots, except for the one or two you used in a salads earlier while trying not to waste that last one third head of lettuce, go into cooking the chicken soup, while the last two leaves of lettuce form the beautiful "base" for you designer tuna salad.
For about $209.00 you have just bought over seven full meals (not counting leftovers). Works out to less than $3.00 per meal to feed a family of four!
Are you in need of more coupons? I know of quite a few people who visit the local recycling center for coupons. If you ask in advance many times you will be allowed to look through to find coupon inserts.
If you have a community recycling bin you can check there as well, although I don't recommend "dumpster diving" because of safety concerns.
Did you know many stores accept competitor's coupons?
Some great examples:
The Entertainment Guide usually has coupons good for $5 off a $50 purchase at Winn Dixie. Take that $5 coupon to Publix, KMart, or Albertsons (whomever has the best sale that week) and they will take the $5 off of your $50 or greater purchase there.
Winn Dixie periodically offers a $2 off a $20 minimum purchase. Publix will accept these too with a $20 purchase before coupons. I try to use free coupons to bring the total up to $20, then use the $2 off coupon.
The bottom line is to know the policy, then clip those store coupons.
Be aware that there are stores that offer to double and triple the value of your coupons. These stores can save you money if you use coupons frequently. However, some things to be aware of are:
*Item limits (you may have 10 coupons for an item to make a great deal, but the store may limit items to 2)
*Coupon limits (as a gimmick to get you in, stores may advertise double/triple coupons, but then only offer the savings on 6 coupons per purchase)
*Some stores may only double/triple up to a certain face value. You may have a coupon for .75 and $1. If the stores double up to .75, then use the .75 (doubled) to take $1.50 off and save the $1 off for another purchase.
*Know your coupon terms as some coupons state Do Not Double (DND).
Many stores regularly spray down their produce with water to keep things looking clean and fresh. On some items (like lettuce or carrot bags with holes) this water will collect and weigh down your produce. Don't pay for added water weight, shake out your produce before you check out.
Do you want to save some money when buying ground beef?
Sometimes the price difference between regular ground beef and lean ground round can be rather substantial, yet the difference in the fat percentage may not warrant the extra money spent. What can you do?
Drain it. Brown the meat almost all the way, then put in a colander and run hot water over it for 5 minutes. This should drain out most of the fat. Then return the meat to the skillet and finish browning. Low fat meat at a lesser cost.
To save money, buy a large amount of store brand cheese (shredded or block) and freeze it in individual small freezer bags in 2 or 4 cup amounts. No need to throw out moldy cheese anymore. Cheese and butter are two dairy products whose properties won't change as a result of freezing.
If you'd like to save a total of $20 on ConAgra brand foods (Healthy Choice, Orville Reddenbacher, Butterball, Swiss Miss, and others)then go to this website for a $2 printable rebate form.
Hint: According to the fine print, you are allowed 10 rebates per person as long as each is mailed separately for a total rebate savings of $20!!! Offer expires March 31, 2003.
Different people have different ways to efficiently organize coupons. I recommend a filing system of some sort. Two ideas that seem to be prominent in the coupon clipping community are:
A Filing Box- 4x6 or 5x8 sized index card box, Rubbermaid Check Keeper box (my favorite) or even an old baby wipes box like one made by Pampers(before pop-ups).
A Binder- There is a product on the market called The Couponizer, or you can buy a 2-3” 3-ring binder and add vinyl baseball card pages to hold your coupons. You can number each cardholder to correspond with the coupon number assigned to it in the Ca$h In program I've mentioned on this website.
Having a place to put all your coupons is great, but you also need to be able to find the one you want-when you need it. If you follow the binder method with the software listed above it is done for you. If you organize on your own there can be many different ways to sort. There is not one method that is better than the other. It just has to be in such a way that you can find your coupons quickly. Some ideas for sorting:
Category (baby food, cookies/snacks, drinks, seasonings, etc.)
Brand (Birds Eye, Dannon, Kraft, etc.)
Product Name (Cheerios, Grill Mates Marinade, Ragu, etc.)
Fill out this survey from Malt-O-Meal brand cereals for $2.75 in Malt-O-Meal cold or hot cereal coupons. This is limited to one survey per household annually. Allow 8-10 weeks for the coupons to arrive.
Are you looking to save money on bread and bakery items?
Many bakeries/bread companies also have thrift stores to reduce their inventory of current date and day old expiration food. Even though the purchase by date is that day or just passed, the bread is still usable and is much cheaper. I'm lucky enough to have a Pepperidge Farm, Entenmann's, and Wonder outlet stores in my area. Why pay $1.49 for a loaf of bread when you can pay .75? I've gotten fruit filled pastries 12 for $1. Check your yellow pages to find the outlets near you.
If your grocery store offers a hot food area or deli, here's a tip for you. Many stores will mark down their unsold hot foods just prior to closing down rather than try to save them. I've bought whole rotisserie chickens that were selling for $3.99 for the discount price of $1.50 at an hour before closing. It's worth it to take a look.
According to Phil Lempert's book, “Supermarket Shopping and Value Guide: Getting the Most For Your Money In Every Aisle”, less than 6% of shoppers actually redeem rebates and mail-in offers.
To get the most value, if you put products in your cart with rebates, decide that you really will follow through and redeem them.
After the holidays are over RUN to your stores!!
This is the best time to buy your seasonal candy items. Right now they have been reduced by 50% to 90%.
You can chop chocolate Santas, bunnies, hearts, and other designs to use them like chocolate chips in baking.
Also, don't forget those Hershey's Kisses. Christmas packaging comes with colors of red, silver, and green. Sort out the red ones for Valentines Day and the green ones for St. Patrick's Day. The silver are the everyday color foil.
Don't forget to use your coupons too!!
Instead of buying expensive garbage disposal freshener/cleaner look in your refrigerator. If you've got a lemon that's a little past its prime cut it in quarters and run it through your sink disposal to freshen the drain.
There are 2 different types of coupons; manufacturer and retailer (store).
Manufacturer coupons can be found in magazines, inserts, supplements, direct-mailers, and newsletters. With manufacturers coupons the manufacturer pays each store for the face value of the coupon received plus a handling fee.
Retailer coupons (aka store coupons) can be found in their respective stores' ads, by direct mail, or in community type newsletters. Retailer coupons are redeemed by the supermarket. Often the manufacturer has paid the store a promotional allowance to compensate for the expense.
When you go to the grocery store and you're at the check out, write your check for the total BEFORE coupons are deducted (If your grocery store will allow this). The cashier will give you change for the exact amount you saved. Put it away in your savings account, piggy bank, or wherever. You might be surprised at how quickly those savings add up!
Have you ever seen a great deal on food but realize you have no more room for it in the freezer?
Invest in a small (5-7 cubic feet) freezer. They generally run between $150 and $230 and are worth the investment. If you run across great sales for meat or frozen items you then can take advantage by buying in bulk and portioning out for meals. You will easily save this money many times over.
If you have a credit card that offers rewards such as points for gift certificates, cash back, merchandise, airline miles, etc. try using that for your grocery bill. Make sure that your bill is paid in full monthly to avoid paying any interest charges that could negate the purpose of using the card. That way you will be buying something you need to buy anyway and getting something extra for it.