The Couponer shops much differently than the average shopper. But shopping differently can save tons! When my family was still just 4 members, we would spend at least $500/month on groceries, baby supplies, and drug store items. Now, with the help of coupons and strategic shopping, I spend no more than $160/month and we have an extra little one too.
How does a couponer do it? First, you need coupons. It is suggested that you get 1-2 sets of inserts per family member. I usually get 6 sets of inserts, but if there are some really good coupons I may get up to 10. Next as a couponer, you never want to pay full price for anything! To avoid paying full price you will want to pair up sales and coupons to pay very little. When you can get an item that your family uses on a regular basis for 75-100% off, STOCKPILE! When I say stockpile, I do not mean hoard. Buy enough for at least 3-6 months so that you will not have to pay full price between sales. Some items, such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, and mustard only have great prices during the summer, and often are FREE with a coupon. Since these items have a great shelf life, go ahead and buy enough for a whole year. Again, be realistic, and not a hoarder. An average family will not need 63 bottles of mustard (extreme couponing, reference). For my family 2-3 bottles each of ketchup and mustard will last us an entire year.
When you prepare for your shopping trip, start with planning out your meals for the week. Check out what you already have in your cabinets and fridge, and then check the sales ad. Now that the meal planning is done, make 2 lists. The first list should include all of the items that are needed to complete your meals for the week. The second list should include all of the STOCKPILE items. Include all of the items that are FREE or are at least 75% off after sales and coupons. Do not buy items that are 90% off just because they are 90% off. If you’re not going to use the item, you’re not really saving any money. Shopping in this manner, will make for strange shopping lists(grapes, bananas, 24 boxes pasta…)but it will save you tons! You will just have to pick up fresh produce, milk, eggs, etc. and whatever your stockpile items are each week.
It will take several months to a year to build up a really good stockpile, but once you do, your grocery bills will decrease dramatically! Don’t be discouraged, if you are not saving 75% on your bills when you first start out. It probably won’t happen. But as you build up your stockpile it will not be unusual to save 75-90% at the grocery store.