If you read a lot on getting into smart shopping/extreme couponing you will see frequently that it will take about 12 weeks for your spending to drop significantly. You can start saving 40-50% right away but what usually happens is you are spending around the same but your house is full of more food. Why is that? Well because coupons are only 1/3 of the key. Check out my post here. which explains the other two keys which are shopping true sales and stockpiling. You need time to build your stockpile and there will be times that you simply need to buy things that are not on sale because you truly need it.
When I started I had a very good situation. I started in July a couple months after we had caught up on all our bills with our tax return and when our bills were at their lowest. I could afford to make a few mistakes and practice to get it right and wasn’t too concerned about the immediate drop in my grocery bill budget.
Right now though it is winter time and we are entering the time where some bills are at their highest so you may not have 12 weeks to wait. So what can you do now to start saving?
1. Start shopping at Aldi’s. If you haven’t started shopping at Aldi’s, start now. Check out these posts for details on Aldi’s. Before I knew about smart shopping techniques Aldi’s was the way I lowered my grocery costs. Also check out Macomb Money Savers entitled Aldi’s 101. Here is another good article with a price comparison. It is from last year so that with a grain of salt here
2. Start shopping at Dollar Stores. One of my best friends who is older, has no money problems and very generous in giving gifts frequents Dollar Stores. She’s found great finds on computer paper, stuff animals, toys and more. I was excited myself to at one time find 90% off clearance toys grabbing some stuff animals for my nieces for $.20 and $.30!
Dollar General is more than just dollar items and they accept manufacturer coupons from newspapers but at this time no Internet printables. If the coupon wording allows, you can also stack a Dollar General Store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. You can find more information here.
Family Dollar also accepts coupons. You can check all the details here.
Two more good sites with opinions and comparisons of various Dollar Stores and opinions are Dollar General vs. Family Dollar and Saving at Dollar Stores.
3. Get to a store that will maximize your coupons. Another great thing that happened to me was about a month in VGs decided to have a triple coupon month tripling all coupons up to $.99. I definitely took advantage of that promotion. Do you usually shop at Wal-Mart or Target because it closer? Try shopping at Meijer or Kroger that doubles coupons up to $.50.
Or if there is anyway try getting to a store that doubles coupons to a dollar! Do you live in Northern Oakland County? Do you live in Western Oakland County? Most Kroger in Genesee and Lapeer Counties do and the Kroger in Howell does as well. Check out this list to see if there is one you can get to here. I work in Grand Blanc and the Kroger in Grand Blanc doubles coupons up to $1. Be reasonable of course you have to be saving more in gas with coupons and I always verify my savings first. This week I will not be shopping in Grand Blanc as I take the bus to work (to cut on my transportation costs) and driving to work this week based on the deals would not save me more money than the gas I’d spend. To verify locations go to kroger.com look for the weekly ad in that zip code and the first page should verify.
VGs has also started doubling manufacturers coupons up to $1.00 in certain locations. Those confirmed are Burton, Caro, Clio, Davison, Fenton, Genesee, Howell, North Fenton, Owosso, Waterford or West Flint locations. To verify go to here and look for your weekly ad. The first page should include coupon information.
4. Give up some things that you think you must have but don't really have to have. I know you think you will die if you don't have your coffee, coke, diet pepsi, bottle water or chips but you actually won't and you will probably hit two birds with one stone improving your health. For my husband and I he is addicted to Diet Pepsi and I thought that I could not get in my 64 oz of water unless some of it was flavored. I had a flavored Dasani in the morning, normal bottled water, and a Propel and then drank another glass at night. Between my bottle water that I had to have and his Diet Pepsi I could easily spend. $25 to $40 in drinks alone. I'd walk out of the store plenty of times with what looked like nothing having spent $60 - $100 because of drinks and snacks. We never ate chips but I also had to have my 100 calorie packs. Well when our budget could no longer afford it they were taken out. I drink herbal tea all day at work (using the tea bag twice) with no calorie sweetner (which counts for water that way.) And have one normal bottled water or refill a bottle of water right after work. And my husband has to pay for his own Diet Pepsi out of his personal money. I also only get 100 Calorie packs (which per ounce are one of the worse things to buy ever) when they are really low cost. One of our winter time snacks last winter was popcorn, the kernels cooked right on the stove. We got a large bag of Aldi's and it was a nice quick cheap snack. We had popcorn with just butter, with hot sauce, with garlic powder all kinds of different ways! Also we use reusable bottles more and have a Brita Filter system. We use less bottled waters (and don't buy them as often) that way and it is better for the environment. So if you think hard enough there are probably some things you could cut out as well.
5. Generate more cash flow. As you continue to read more blogs you will see that almost all that start out saving money will usually move on to generating some as well even if it is a little bit. If you have $10 - $100 in your pocket from taking surveys, viewing ads, and surfing the web that is less of a strain on your budget. Check out ways to do this see the articles here.