Clipping coupons is great, but I’m all about efficient ways to save money. By putting in a little extra effort, you can set yourself up to save money every time you go to the grocery store without spending hours going through weekly ads. Check out these 5 tips for efficient ways to save.
1 | STAY INFORMED
Most grocery stores have a calendar of weekly or daily specials. Even though we all get a billion emails a day, sign up for emails from your grocery store. Most of the time you will get emails about what’s on sale, keeping you up-to-date on their weekly or daily specials. Sometimes you’ll also get coupons and discounts that they only send out in email. Another way to stay informed is to follow your favorite stores on social media.
*SECRET*: If you have a Fresh Market in your area, they have a weekly schedule of specials they offer each day of the week. They also have certain items on sale each week on top of their usual daily specials. Sign up for their email list to stay updated. My favorite is $2.99 Tuesdays, where they offer natural (antibiotic free, grain fed) chicken breast and ground chuck for $2.99 per pound (normally $5.99 per pound). If you’re ballin’ on a budget like we are and purchasing organic, grass-fed meat doesn’t make the cut, this is a great option for quality meat at an affordable price.
2 | REWARDS PROGRAM
If you frequent the same store(s), be sure to sign up for their customer loyalty program. Some grocery stores only offer discount prices to those who are part of the rewards program. For example, if you see a sale price on an item, most of the time that price only pertains to card-holders.
In some stores, dollars turn into points, like at Kroger or Giant Eagle. These stores offer fuel points rewards for dollars you spend in their store, stretching your dollar a little bit more. If you’re all about the fuel points, many of these stores also allow you to buy gift cards to other stores to rack up even more fuel points. If there’s a store or restaurant you frequent, consider buying yourself a few gift cards (only if you know you’ll use them!) to score some extra fuel points.
3 | COUPONS
It’s no secret that coupons save you money, but clipping coupons can be tedious and honestly sometimes takes more time than it’s worth. Check out your grocery store’s website and see if there’s a feature where you can add digital coupons to your customer loyalty card.
Kroger has an option to add coupons to your rewards card so anytime you use your rewards card and purchase items that you have loaded a coupon for, it saves you money. No more worrying about remembering to bring your coupons and then remembering to give them to the cashier. Other stores may have similar digital coupons or even an app, like Cartwheel for Target.
Another added benefit of digital coupons is it saves you time. Since it’s linked to your customer profile, it often suggests available coupons to you based on your purchase history, saving you a ton of time from searching through pages of available discounts, or worse yet, clipping them out of a weekly ad.
4 | MAKE A LIST
Lists keep us on task. Writing a list (or typing one in your phone) will keep you from not shopping with your eyes or your stomach and it will make your trip to the grocery store much faster. It will also ensure that you don’t forget something. Trips to the store to get one thing are the worst. Shopping with a list will keep costs down, too, because you’ll only be buying exactly what you need.
When writing your list, think about the way your grocery store is set-up and write your list based on your path around the store. This has helped me keep my trip around the store fast because I’m not wasting time walking back and forth across the store. Even if you think you know what you need or you’re just stopping in to grab a few things, make a list anyways. (I’m sure you’re well aware of the $100 trap at Target - make a list). Even though I buy most of the same stuff each week and basically have my list memorized, I still write a list.
5 | ASK QUESTIONS
Many stores offer discounts that they don’t advertise. Most of these discounts have to do with bulk pricing. If you’re planning on stocking up on a certain product or buying for a party you’re hosting, ask an employee if they offer any type of discount. I’ve seen it in grocery stores that sell wine and even at the butcher’s counter.
You may also ask about getting a discount on items where it’s close to the expiration date. Many grocery stores will discount food or even throw it out if it’s close to the expiration date - even if it’s still good. It never hurts to ask!
Here are your action steps for your next shopping trip:
Make a list (and stick to it!)
Sign up for your store’s rewards program
Head over to your store’s website to sign up for email updates and follow them on social media.
While you’re on your store’s website, see if you can add digital coupons to your rewards card or at least check out any specials that are going on.
Ask an employee about any unadvertised specials happening
Know of other good ways to save? Let me know in the comments below!