Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saving Money on Groceries - Couponing

I'm sure you've seen or heard about TLC's "Extreme Couponing."  Families from across the U.S. spend  twenty or thirty hours a week pouring over coupon inserts and sales circulars to score hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for pennies on the dollar.  Mothers give tours of their impressive stockpiles which could supply a small community for months on end.

Kudos to those who have amassed hoardes of thousands of dollars worth of products.  But what about us single, young professionals who don't have a small army to feed?

In studying my monthly budget, I decided that the first area to save was my grocery and dining budget. I spent an incredibly high portion of my income on food and restaurant meals simply out of inconvenience (and cooking for one can be a challenge).  I never seemed to be able to purchase the right amount of fruits and vegetables that I could use before everything spoiled.  I never used coupons and tended to buy things last minutes as I needed them, especially personal care and beauty products.

After being thorough amazed by an episode of "Extreme Couponing" I hit the Internet to learn more about the growing trend.  I stumbled upon a site called The Grocery Game - a site that takes the hours of manpower out of matching coupons with store sales.  Every week (usually Monday afternoon), sales lists are posted which compare the valid coupons out there with sales from your preferred store.  You can pull lists for Kroger, Meier, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and a host of other stores.  The list tell you the sale price of the item and which coupon to use to get an even lower deal.

The Grocery Game is a paid service ($10.00 for eight weeks) but over the last few months, I've saved hundreds and have even scored some free items!  Only you can decide if it's a worthwhile investment, but I've found that the savings far outweigh my membership fee.  Plus it allows me to plan a weekly menu around some of the items that are on sale.

If you follow coupons long enough, you'll start to spot trends in sales and promotions.  Most items tend to go through a sale cycle of about sixteen weeks.  There are some things that I'm finding I'll never have to purchase again, like toothpaste and bar soap, simply because every two months or so, the items go on sale and can be matched with a coupon to make it free.

The site has also allowed me to pick and choose my deals without having to religiously slave over sale circulars or commit half my house to an enourmous stockpile.

How do you coupon?  Do you have any tips for single shoppers?

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