For those of us lucky enough to have them, double coupons have always been a treat. Hand the cashier your coupons and voila – $0.50 off becomes $1 off; $1 off becomes $2 off! It’s like magic!
Unfortunately, many stores across the country have stopped doubling coupons at many or all of their locations –Ã‚ Albertsons,Ã‚ Dillons,Ã‚ Kroger,Ã‚ Meijer, and now in the Twin Cities, Rainbow Foods. People are wondering how to save without their beloved double coupons.
Friends, I hear you. Speaking from personal experience: Rainbow Foods was one of the primary stores I shopped at when I first got into couponing (here’s a blast from the past: check out one of my shopping trips from five years ago where I got $50 in free groceries).
Let me assure you: there’s no need to throw in the towel with saving money on groceries altogether. Instead, view this as an opportunity to assess your current shopping strategy and make some changes. Here are six steps to grocery savings without double coupons.
Step #1: Know What You Buy
Take a moment to jot down a list of 15-20 items that regularly show up on your shopping list.Ã‚ This is something you may have done when you first got into using coupons, but it’s entirely possible that your family’s needs have changed since then.
Step #2: Price Compare What You Buy
Choose several stores in your area that you’re willing to shop at, then take an afternoon and write down the everyday prices for the items on your list at each store. It’s important to jot down the everyday price as opposed to the sale price to keep the comparison accurate.
Step #3: Figure Out Which Store Is the Best Fit
Once you’ve figured out the everyday prices, determine which store is the best place for you to do your regular shopping, keeping in mind not only prices, but also location (it doesn’t make sense to drive 10 miles just to save $2) and whether or not the store carries most or all of the items on your list.
Different stores have different benefits:
- AldiÃ‚ generally has the best everyday prices, but their selection isn’t huge and they don’t accept coupons.
- Costco and Sam’s ClubÃ‚ can be decent for buying in bulk, but I’ve found that Aldi still has better prices on many items (with the exception of meat, for me).
- Target now offers multiple ways to save with coupons – you can stack manufacturer’s coupons with store couponsÃ‚ and Cartwheel savings.
- Walmart is great for price-matching other store’s sale prices, plus you can use manufacturer’s coupons along with price matching.
Step #4: Track Sale Prices and Stock Up
Now that you’ve determined the best everyday prices, start tracking theÃ‚ sale prices at the stores you’re willing to shop at. Take 15 minutes each week to browse sales flyers and see which of your buy-them-every-week items are on sale and for what price.
I recommend tracking for 6-12 weeks to be sure you run through each store’s full sales cycle. After you do this, you’ll have a better idea of when to stock up on a particular item, regardless of whether or not you have a coupon to go along with it.
If you see a great price, then buy enough of that product to get through to the next sale. There’s no need to have 100 bottles of ketchup or 87 boxes of cereal – you only need enough to get through to the next sale. And, I assure you (cross my heart and pinky swear) that every product will go on sale again, eventually.
Step #5: Stack Coupons On Top of Sale Prices
Friends, coupons are just the icing on the cake. Once you’ve found a great sale price,Ã‚ then you can pull out the coupons. Say you see a box of cereal on “sale” for $3 and use a $0.75 coupon, dropping the price to $2.25. But then the following week you see that same box of cereal on sale for $2 – less than what you paid while using the coupon (d’oh!). See what I mean?
Step #6: Use Other Money-Saving Strategies
Finally, maybe it’s time for you and your family to look beyond using coupons altogether. Here are some other techniques you could try:
- Freezer meals
- Warehouse clubs (maybe they make sense for you now?)
- Lose brand loyalty
- Shop online (Amazon often has decent prices for grocery, health & beauty and household items; Abe’s Market is a good bet for natural and organic items)
- Substitute ingredients
- Go meatless one night per week
- Other suggestions?
It’ll Be OK
I’ve said this before, but sometimes you need to just “roll with the punches” when it comes to using coupons and shopping sales. Policies changeÃ‚ all the time. Sales and promotions are added and taken away, and sometimes a favorite store of yours closes or a new one opens. With a little creativity and re-assessment of your family’s needs, you’ll still find ways to save. It will be all right. :)
Your turn:Ã‚ How is your family saving without double coupons?