In the past, I’ve discussed the art of clipping coupons as well as the huge advantages of a grocery list. Lately, I’ve found that combining the two together can net a very nice financial edge – and it only takes me about ten minutes a week.
I schedule my primary shopping trip on Saturday mornings. The reason for this is that local grocery stores are usually offering a ton of samples at about ten or eleven in the morning on Saturday, so I can usually get most of Saturday’s lunch for free when I make multiple stops (and I usually do).
I also save coupon sections from the Sunday newspaper. I just pull them out when I’m reading the paper and set them aside for later use. If you don’t get a Sunday paper, check at a local convenience store on Monday morning and they’ll usually let you scavenge one for ads – something I’ve done in the past.
On Friday evening, I finish my grocery list. I make sure that everything I’m going to buy at the store is on it – all of my food items, toiletries, and so forth. I usually check a few of the essentials when doing this.
Then, I sit down with the saved coupons and clip everything that matches. Since I usually buy the brand that Consumer Reports recommends in bulk, I just look for coupons of those specific brands unless I spot an exceptional deal (like a recent $3 off on Luvs diapers, which made a small bag of them less than a nickel a diaper). Everything else, I toss. This usually nets me only a couple coupons.
I also do some online searching for coupons. I’ll check the coupon page at my local grocery store’s site, as well as a few general coupon sites, but I never print a coupon that doesn’t match up with my list.
I paperclip the coupons to my list and then go shopping on Saturday morning. In the store, I stick to my list and I still look for in-store bargains that beat the coupons, though these are rare. Sticking to the list ensures that I buy very few unnecessary things at the store. If I end up with any unused coupons, I save them for future weeks.
This process, both the individual pieces and in combination, has cut about 40% off of my weekly grocery / household / toiletry bill and I barely notice the difference.