Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Make the Most of Your Meals (Part 7)

Well, I've decided to spare you the rundown this week on my grocery purchases and menu, largely because of some family matters that made for helter-skelter meals. I'm not sure I have the mental clarity to recall what all we ate.

I've been waiting to talk about couponing. I've been so tempted to reference it in previous posts, but have restrained myself. There is so much talk about extreme couponing and the drugstore game (just Google those if you need more info; you'll be overwhelmed), and then there are just a bunch of plain Janes like me who clip coupons to save a few bucks here and there.

As an aside, I saw the aftermath of a little extreme couponing gone wrong this spring. I was out at yard sales and saw at least 30 cans of air freshener on one table. Really? I can get on my soapbox and rant about non-chemical ways to conceal unpleasant smells, but perhaps we should just move along.

So, here's how couponing works for me.
(Disclaimer: It may not work for you. It may infuriate you. I am not you. It's okay.)

Using only "free" coupons. This means coupons that arrive in my mailbox, or those which can be printed online. I've chosen to cancel my newspaper subscription because as much as I love the idea of sprawling on the bed or couch and reading the paper, it's not my stage of life. And while I love the funny pages, magazine and coupons, I'm not saving as much as I am paying for the Sunday edition.

Clipping/printing coupons just for things I already use AND know I'll be purchasing again soon. This is really important when it comes to keeping costs down. There is a reason companies issue coupons: they want you to buy their product. They want you to be brand loyal. Okay, that's all well and good, but just because I use an item doesn't mean I must clip every coupon for it. So, even if I save $1.00 on each jar, I simply don't need to buy a jar of mayonnaise each month.

Resist the temptation to use every coupon clipped. Why is this so hard for me to do? I look at that pile of coupons like a "to-do" list. Must. Redeem. Every. Coupon. Not a good choice. That food item must fit into a menu or realistically be usable within a few months.

Stack the savings. If, like me, you buy a lot of groceries at Target, you need to stack coupons by matching Target coupons and manufacturer's coupons. I'm sure other stores do this as well. (Do tell, if you know about it.)

Abandoning the coupon when the house brand is cheaper. It always pays to do the math. So often, the generic brand is cheaper than the name brand even with a double coupon.

Consider what you are buying. There just aren't many coupons for produce, fresh meat or nutritious cereals. There are, however, a LOT of coupons for junk food, personal care products and other "non-necessities." Just consider that a deal isn't really a deal unless you will use and benefit from the product, in addition to saving money.

So, there you have it. My musings on how to cut the grocery bill in seven installments.

On a personal note, let me say that this experiment has made me more accountable and conscious of my food purchasing and disposing. At the same time, it's not worth stressing yourself out as you strive to pinch every penny. Life must go on and it's okay to have takeout or buy a frozen pizza at full price every now and again. Time is money, too.

Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. One of my greatest frustrations with coupons is that they are rarely for things I need--the fresh stuff, organic stuff, etc. I mostly skip the coupons now because I learned the hard way that it simply makes me buy things I wouldn't normally buy. BUT, last trip to Giant, they printed out a cash register coupon for $2 off my next produce purchase of $5. SCORE!!