It’s a rare family that’s not on a food budget. The family food shopper searches for any way possible to cut back on the amount of money spent on food. One of those is using coupons.
Conservatively speaking, there are millions of coupons circulating every day that could cut your food budget by 30 to 50% – even more if you’re willing to turn couponing into a passion.
Even the casual coupon clipper can become quite successful overnight and with more work and dedication become a super saver shopper. You have to be patient, flexible and perhaps give up your favorite brand, but it can be done and you can save a lot of money.
Remember, coupons are designed to sell a certain product and get you in the store but if the item is not one you need and use, then saving money on that item is a moot point.
Food coupons can be found anywhere. The Sunday newspaper is usually the best source but also look on line, at public libraries and at coupon swap boxes at the store itself. Some stores issue coupons at checkout for use on your next trip. Be sure and note expiration dates and if a cash value is offered. Don’t let them expire and go to waste.
Organize before you shop. Keep coupons sorted by food type in an easy to search through container and match coupons with needs on your grocery list. Some coupons have mail in rebates. Beware of this and follow up.
Sign up for a store loyalty card that usually offers coupons plus bonus points that are cumulative each time you shop. Using a store’s own credit card can lead to double points and free item coupons.
When you combine regular coupons with sale prices, you’re becoming a super saver. If a coupon item is not on sale and it’s not an urgent buy wait until it’s on sale. Be on the lookout for sale and bonus points tags.
Compare ads. It may pay you to drive to more than one store if it’s an item you need, have a coupon and it’s not available anywhere else. But, before you burn up extra gas, ask if the store honors its competitor’s coupons. Many will do this just to keep you in the store. You can call ahead to save a trip.
Don’t be susceptible to the 2 for a dollar marketing tool unless it’s to your advantage with a coupon. If you need two of the item go ahead and buy them; but save by buying only one if that’s what you need. For example, the sign may read: 15 limes for a dollar. Unless you’re a big lime user, some could go bad before you use them.
There was a time when some shoppers felt using coupons was not appreciated by the grocer and hesitated to use them. They didn’t want to hold up the line while the checker scanned coupons.
It’s a faster and easier method now with computers. Some of these strategies may not be right for you. It takes practice and patience, trial and error. If stretching your food dollar is your goal, there are few better ways than using coupons.
Nix the Midday Lunch Breaks with Co-Workers
You probably know the scenario. The office clock says noon and the guys and gals decide where to go for lunch. In many towns, the drive time to a restaurant eats up most of the lunch hour, not to mention the gas.
It’s hard to find lunch for less than ten bucks plus tip. You gobble down your food, share a few laughs with your co-workers and rush back to the office wishing you had time for a nap.
As you walk to your desk, you notice this guy putting away his brown bag. He appears calm, happy and ready to get back to work, some of which he did while eating his lunch. He’s thinking how delicious it was, how much money he saved and the hassle avoided.
Is it worth it to prepare and bring your lunch to work each day? Well, looking at some basic examples let’s say the cost to fix your own lunch costs about $3 a day. It’s probably much cheaper.
That’s $15 for a five day week. Eating out at approximately $10 a day comes to $50 for the week. You saved at least $35 not including drive time and gas. That’s more than $1,800 a year saved. Interested?
Here are some brown bag tips. Prepare it the night before so you’re not rushed in the morning. Keep it simple but be creative and think healthy. Sandwiches on wholesome bread are fine but include nuts, fruit or yogurt. Also, put in a little treat for yourself that you can look forward to, perhaps a health bar or your favorite cookie.
Plan ahead and buy in bulk with lunches in mind. Buy large chips and put them in smaller plastic bags instead of buying small individual bags. Don’t pay more for convenience.
Cook a big dinner and save some for lunch the next day or the entire week. If it’s home cooked you know it’s good, healthy and cleaner. Put it in individual containers that night so you can grab and go in the morning.
If you’re running late there’s nothing wrong with occasionally taking a can of soup or vegetable chili. Most offices have ovens or microwaves you can use for heating.
Bring your drink too. You can probably get a 12-pack of soda for $2.99 and that comes to about 25 cents a can. Compare that with expensive vending machine drinks or coffee and you’ve saved even more.
It’s up to you of course, but you can continue to work while you eat, catch up on your emails or other relaxing reading. It just might impress the boss and if you have to take off early, you don’t feel as guilty. Don’t be surprised if others ask you for tips on brown bagging.
There’s a lot to be said for brown bagging your lunch. You eat better, save time, money and you’re more productive. Now all you have to do is figure out where to invest all that money you saved.