I GET IT! I saved over $25 with COUPONS!

January 22, 2011

I am giddy with excitement about my first planned coupon-shopping trip! I didn’t think this was possible. I’ve been following Mrs. January and wondering how in the world she does it! But now I’VE DONE IT! Let me share with you!

For all of this, I paid a whopping $9.26!!! Here’s how:

First, I organized all of my coupons, making sure none were out of date and sorting them by category. I became quite familiar with what I have as I went through this process.

Then, I looked at the weekly flyers and found items that were on sale that I had coupons for. I planned what I would buy and where and made sure I was getting a massive deal on each item.

Next, I went shopping!

Shopper’s Drug Mart

Clover Leaf Tuna on sale for $0.79 each.
I had 7 coupons for “Buy 2, Save $1”.
At Shopper’s price, that’s two cans for $1.58, minus my coupon, is 2 for $0.58, or $0.29 each!

Total paid: $4.05
Total saved: $7 (actually more, because these were on sale already. This is just what I saved off the SALE price!)


Zeller’s

Dove (4x90g) on sale for $2.99 today only
Coupon for $1 off makes it $1.99.

Gillette Shave Foam on sale for $1.79.
Coupon for Buy 3, Save $5.
Buying 3 at sale price brings it to $5.37, minus my coupon makes it $0.37 for all three, or $0.12 for ONE! WHAT A DEAL!

Bounty Extra Soft Paper Towel $1.99.
Coupon for One Free Package!

Total Paid: $2.88
Total Saved: $11.49


Superstore

Arm & Hammer Toothpaste on sale for $1.49
Coupon for Save $1
Coupon for Save $0.50
Coupon for Save $0.75
Bought 3 at $1.49 brings it to $4.47, minus the coupons brings it to $2.22.

THEN, Superstore always has a Deal of the Week. If the cashier forgets to mention it, you get it for free. Well, my cashier forgot, so I got a package of Halls Cough Drops that were on sale for $1.99 for FREE!

Total Paid: $2.33
Total Saved: $4.24 (more because this is what I saved off the already-on-sale price)

So, today I got a roll of Bounty paper towel, 3 cans of Gillette Shaving Cream, 4 bars of Dove soap, 14 cans of Clover Leaf tuna, 3 tubes of Arm & Hammer Toothpaste, and a bag of Halls cough drops, all for a grand total of $9.26!!!!

Not only that, but I didn’t even have to pay for the Superstore purchase out of my own money, because I took advantage of their deal last week of buying $250-worth and getting a $25 gift card. Today, my Superstore purchase came out of that gift card, so REALLY, I only spent a total of $6.93 of my own money today!!!! THIS IS FANTASTIC!!! It works out to MORE than $25 saved!!!!!

(Big thank-you to Susan for all the coupons you sent me! They sure are coming in handy!)

So, I’m convinced, now, that coupons really can help us Canadians! I hope to experience a few more of these victorious shopping trips in the future!


Using Flyers To Plan Your Menu

March 4, 2010

Using the weekly grocery flyers to plan my menu has been a key to keeping my grocery bill down. After first “taking inventory” of what I already have on hand, the next step is to look at what the sales are that week. For me, I get my weekly flyers twice a week – on Thursdays and on Saturdays. My Sobey’s flyer comes on Thursday and my Superstore flyer comes on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned before, I have found these two stores to be the best bang for my buck. There are rare exceptions, and I’m always scouting for better deals, but for now, this is my method.

Flyers can be tricky. Generally speaking, the items advertised on the front and back pages of the flyer are the best deals. Inside the flyer, there are sometimes other sales and good deals, but the front and back pages are the best. Also, flyers often list items with the price, leading you to believe that it’s on sale, when in fact, it’s the same price as it always is! This is one reason why it’s a good idea to keep track of what you’re spending for your usual items. Some people use a price book for this. I have yet to start mine, but I plan to do that in the near future. You can do a search online for pricebooks and come up with a wealth of information.

Anyway, after perusing the flyers and getting a good idea of what will be on sale when I do my grocery shopping, I plan my menu using as many of the sale items as possible. For example, if canned tuna is on sale for a great deal, you can bet we’ll be having tuna sandwiches and probably at least one other tuna meal that week. Also, if you have enough room in your grocery budget, when you come across a really amazing deal, stock up on the item if it’s something you use regularly.

For Canadians, http://www.flyerland.ca has most of the flyers you would need to plan your grocery shopping wisely. There are all the major grocery store flyers on that website. Make use of them!

For Calgarians, if you live in a community that publishes a monthly newsletter booklet, make sure you look in it for the 10% off Sobey’s coupon! If the book isn’t delivered to your home, check your local library. I noticed that the library nearest my home has all the neighborhood newsletters for my quadrant of the city. This coupon is very valuable particularly on Sobey’s Dollar Days. HEADS UP!!! That is happening THIS WEEKEND till next Friday. This is a WAY better deal than the 10% Tuesday. Often, the 10% Tuesday is a trick – they jack up the prices for the 10% Tuesday. If you WAIT and use your coupon with Dollar Days, not only are the prices great, but you get an EXTRA 10% off.

For example, this week, many of my staple items are on sale at Sobey’s for Dollar Days. There’s canned tuna, canned tomato sauce, canned pineapple, etc. All for $1. With my coupon, I’ll get each item for $0.90. In many cases, this is cheaper than Superstore, but not always.

Another advantage to keeping tabs on the flyers is that you learn the patterns of the sales. I’ve noticed that many of my regular items are on sale in approximately 6-week cycles. This is helpful because I can then buy 6 weeks worth of the item when it’s on sale, if I have the room in my budget, enabling me to never pay full price for that item. It’s also helpful because I can wait for an item if I know it will be on sale in a week or two. If I’m wanting to buy chicken legs and I know they are on sale in two weeks, I won’t plan meals that use chicken legs until the sale week arrives.

Practice using flyers and save!


Outsmarting Grocery Pricing Trickery

February 6, 2010

– Pay very careful attention in the produce section. Notice the difference between prices listed as $_/each and $_/lb. Today, I had one leek on my grocery list. In the produce section of the store, leeks were all bundled in groups of three. Most people assume that the price posted above the leeks is for the whole bundle. NOT SO! The price posted was per pound! I only needed one leek, so I took apart a bundle and placed only one leek into my cart. And so I paid for only the one leek that I wanted! And I paid much less than I would have for the whole bundle, which I probably would have ended up forgetting about in my fridge and wasting! And one of my key mottos for keeping the grocery bill down is “Waste not, Want not!”

Make notes on your grocery list about what the exact sale item is (while looking through the store flyers). There are two main reasons for this:

1. At the store, you might find that what you thought you could buy on sale, is not always as it seems. For example, this week’s store flyer told me that Primo brand pasta was on sale for $1 per 454g package. With careful planning, and on a super tight budget, one might put one pasta package on the grocery list. However, when I arrived at the pasta aisle, there was not a single package of pasta smaller than 900g. The price of the 900g package WAS $2.00, which works out to the same thing as $1.00 per 454g, but the flyer was deceiving.

2. Sometimes, if you get to the store before they have posted the sale prices, you won’t know which brand is the one advertised at the sale price. Today, cans of tuna were listed in the flyer for $1 each. When I got to the store, they hadn’t posted the sale prices yet. There were three brands of tuna to choose from. I have been paying close attention to this store and its sales for a long time, so I had a pretty good idea of which cans were on sale,  but sometimes they get tricky. Other times, it might be only a specific type of product. One week, canned tuna was on sale, but it was only the cans that had garlic and herbs in them! Sneaky, sneaky!


Step 6: Go Shopping!

February 3, 2010

This is pretty straightforward. You’ve planned your shopping trip, so all you have to do is gather up your grocery bags (if you have reusable ones, which I highly recommend), and go! AND DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR LIST!

Your list is the key. The number one rule during grocery shopping is to STICK TO YOUR LIST! I cannot stress this enough. Don’t buy something extra just because you see it’s on sale and it seems like a good deal. If it’s not on your list, don’t buy it. No exceptions. If you’ve been diligent and careful on Steps 1-5, there will be no need to make exceptions to this rule!

The rest of your shopping trip is simple.

There are the usual pieces of advice, like shopping on a full stomach. There’s the common sense stuff, like saving the frozen foods for the end of your shopping spree.

One thing I like to do, just because I am a little bit compulsive about a few things, is to keep like products as close together in the cart as possible, and then when I’m putting it all on the counter at the till, it gets bagged together. I like to shop in this order: dry and canned goods (so they go on the bottom of the cart and don’t crush anything else), meat and dairy (heavier items, some can be stacked, usually compact or flat packaging), produce, then frozen stuff. Depending on how much I have to get, I sometimes get the frozen stuff right after the meat. It helps to keep the meat cold. Then, at the till, all the produce gets bagged first, then the frozen and meats and dairy, then the dry goods. It helps to keep the food in good shape until we get home. Then, at home, it’s quicker and easier to put things away.

And that’s it for shopping!

P.S. Save your receipts! You’ll eventually be glad!


Step 5: Plan Your Grocery Shop

February 3, 2010

Plan your grocery shop? Does this step sound a little unnecessary? If you’re a total beginner at this, it might be a little meaningless to you right now. But it’s important to develop this step as a habitual part of your weekly grocery plan. As you learn the different techniques and tricks for saving money and spending less on groceries, you may discover that it is worth shopping at more than one store for your groceries. When you begin to do this, you will need to plan for it in order to make it worth your while and to save you time and energy and fuel.

With your grocery list in hand, decide which items you will purchase at each individual store.

I have three main stores.

Costco is a RARE stop for me, and in fact, I probably won’t renew my membership there. While there are several items that are cheaper to buy at Costco, I don’t think it’s worth my while to renew. And besides, my mom goes there REGULARLY, so if there’s something I really want from there, I can get her to pick it up for me. (I know that’s cheating, but it’s the truth!)

Sobey’s is my favorite regular supermarket store. It has better quality meats and produce than the discount stores, and it’s less expensive (in general) than Safeway or Co-op (the other two main supermarkets around here). I also receive a 10% off coupon for my local Sobey’s once a month. This particular grocery store has a monthly sale week called Dollar Days. During Dollar Days, there are many of my regular items on sale for $1. With my 10% off coupon, I can stock up on these items for $0.90 each! So during those weeks, it’s worth the extra stop for me.

A majority of my grocery shopping is done at Superstore. (Extra Foods and No Frills are basically the same thing, but Superstore is the closest to my home.) This is a discount store, almost like a warehouse store. It’s big, and the store brand (President’s Choice) is excellent quality on most of the products I buy. They also have a lot of no name products, which, naturally, are very inexpensive. If you shop here, remember to bring your own bags because they charge you $0.05 per plastic bag!

So, with my list in hand, I mark my items according to store. If I’m using my Master Grocery List, I will highlight all the Costco stuff in one color, and all the Sobey’s stuff in another. Everything else is assumed to be a Superstore purchase.

Another method is to do this step along with the previous step. Make your grocery list for each store individually.

Just use whichever method works for you. And again, it takes practice to figure out what you like best.


Step 4: Make a Grocery List

February 3, 2010

You can choose to make your grocery list as you are creating your menu plan, or you might want to focus entirely on the menu plan first, and concentrate on the grocery list after the menu plan is complete. Either way works. Just pick what works best for you.

The trick for this step is to make sure you don’t leave anything out. The point of the grocery list is to insure that your home will have everything you will need for the next week in order to feed your family nutritious meals. If you run out of something, you either have to put your creative juices to work and improvise, or you will have to go to the store, which will cost you more money in gas, and probably add unnecessary expense to your grocery budget.

An easy way to make your grocery list is to print of a copy of my Master Grocery List, found on the Printables Page. Over time, you may wish to create your own Master Grocery List using the ingredients that you buy most often. There are also many other versions of lists like this all over the internet. Using a Master Grocery List is easy and saves time because you don’t have to write anything down. You can use it in one of two ways:

1) Based on your menu plan, CROSS OUT the items on the Master Grocery List that you DON’T need. Everything else that is left is your new grocery list, already written out for you. If you use my list, there are little checkboxes that you can use as you’re at the grocery store to mark when you’ve got the item in your cart.

2) Based on your menu plan, use a highlighter to mark the items on the Master Grocery List that you need to buy. Items not marked are not needed.

If the Master Grocery List idea overwhelms you, feel free to just write out your list on any old scrap of paper. This is the logical choice particularly when your list is very short! However, if your list is longer, I highly recommend sorting your list according to the layout of your grocery store as much as possible. List dairy items together, produce all together, frozen foods together, etc. This will save you time in the store and help you to stay focused and not add any extras to your cart!

As this whole process becomes second nature to you, you will learn to incorporate the weekly grocery flyers into your meal planning and grocery lists as well. You will slowly start to develop a stock while sticking with a very low budget which will enable you to keep your weekly grocery shopping list a lot shorter. Don’t worry about this for now. Just be aware that it’s something to work toward.

With your grocery list in hand, you’re ready to move on to Step 5!