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Step by Step: How We Saved 83.5% on Our Last Shopping Trip

Anytime you use coupons you’re going to save money at the grocery store, but you can save so much more – and get so much more for your money – if you take some time to plan your shopping trip.  

Here’s how most people use coupons…

They sit down on Sunday morning when the paper comes and clip the coupons for the items they normally buy every week. Some weeks they might clip only one or two, and other weeks they might clip 10 or 12.

Then, when it comes time to do the shopping, they sit down and write up a grocery list – based on what’s in the pantry – without considering the coupons they have stashed in the drawer.

Then, when they actually do the shopping, they consider themselves lucky if they manage to shave $5 off their final bill. With a little advance planning, you can immediately shave 50 percent or more off your grocery costs.

Watch This Video First!

How to Prepare for Your Shopping Trip

Clip more coupons – Most people buy the same brands and products week after week for two reasons:

They like the product and the price fits their budget. Consequently, they often pass over coupons for the same product from a different manufacturer because they think it’s too expensive to begin with and a 25-cent coupon won’t make much difference. (In the example below we’re going to show you just how wrong this assumption is.)

Instead of clipping only the coupon for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because it’s already inexpensive to begin with and you know your family likes it, clip that coupon for 25 cents off Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese, too. Sure, it might be more expensive at the regular price, but you never know when it’s going to be on sale. Mac & cheese is mac & cheese and if you can stack a coupon with a sale and get it at a great price, who cares who makes it?

Important: We know you read other coupon blogs. We do, too. But here’s the mistake most people make: You see a matchup for Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese and the blogger tells you it’s free at XYZ store this week if you use a coupon and you think, “Well, there’s no XYZ store in my area so that’s not for me.”

Wrong! If it’s on sale in Ohio this week, it will probably be on sale in some other state next week. Sales are cyclical, and they move from region to region, so always be on the lookout.

Clip multiple identical coupons – If you can use a coupon and get a box of Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese free, it only makes sense to get more than one box. After all, it’s something you buy every week, right?

If you normally pay $1.29 for that box and you serve Mac & Cheese once a week, that means you’re spending $67.08 every year on mac & cheese. Get that one free box and you’re still spending $65.79. If you can get it free, pick up 52 boxes and you’ve just literally removed $67.08 from your annual grocery budget.

Repeat that process with enough of your staples and you can easily reduce your grocery budget by thousands of dollars a year.

Know the sales – Really read your store’s weekly ad. Look at everything that’s on sale. Then, spend a half hour or 45 minutes walking the aisles before you even make your list. You’ll be surprised at the number of close-out and unadvertised sale items you see once you start looking for the shelf tags.

Don’t have the time? Wrong! How many times do you stop in for milk or bread every week and then you end up spending a half hour browsing the snack aisle? Spend that time scouting the store for sale items that aren’t in the ad.

 Know your store’s coupon policy – Our store frequently runs three types of mega events: On select items, if you buy 5 you save $5, on select items if you buy 10 you save $5, and on select items you can buy 10 for $10. Our store also still doubles coupons up to 99 cents. That means a 75-cent coupon is worth $1.50, and 99-cent coupon is worth $1.98, and so on.

On the downside, our store only allows you to use 5 identical coupons per transaction, and a lot of manufacturer coupons state you can only use 4 per transaction these days.

This is why it’s so important to plan your shopping trip in advance. If we want to walk out of our favorite store with enough Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese to last a year, we’re going to want more than 5 boxes so we’ll need to do more than one transaction.

Our Shopping List for This Weekend

Now, it’s time to start planning your shopping trip so we’re going to show you an example of our own list.

Here are the deals we definitely want to take advantage of:

Betty Crocker Macaroni & Cheese: On sale this week – Buy 10 at $1 each and save $5. With our coupon for $.25 off ONE (1) we save an additional $.50 on each box (because our store doubles.) That means we can get this free this week – IF we have enough coupons AND we split it into multiple transactions. BUT – we can only use 5 coupons per transaction and we need to get 10 items on the Buy 10 Save $5 list if we want that extra $5 savings, so we’re going to have to buy 5 of something else on the list. We want to get at least 30 of these in this shopping trip.

Betty Crocker Cake Mixes: On sale this week for $1.49 and if you buy 10 you save an additional $5. That makes them 99 cents each. Our coupon for $.75 off TWO (2) doubles to $1.50 off TWO (2) which makes these 25 cents each in the end. We use these to make cakes, cookies and bars so this is an item we want to stock up on, and since we have to buy TWO to use the coupon we can get all 10 and still use only 5 coupons in the transaction. We want to get at least 20 of these in this shopping trip.

Oreos: The 8 oz. packages of Nabisco Snack Saks are on sale this week for $1.49 and if you buy 10 they’re 99 cents each. Our coupon for $1 off THREE (3) brings these down to 66 cents each. These are great for lunch boxes and, while it’s not really crucial that the kids have cookies every day, this item is important because it’s going to help us fill in the gaps when we mix and match for those 10 items. It doesn’t matter how many of these we get because we’re just using them to fill in the gaps.

French’s French Fried Onions: The 6 oz. Package is on sale this week for $2.99 and if you buy 10 they’re $2.49. Our coupon for 50 cents off ONE (1) doubles to $1 making these $1.49. It’s a good price, we’ll use them for the holidays, and they’ll help us when we need something to make up the 10 items in a mix. We want to get at least two of these in this shopping trip.

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup: On sale this week for $1.19. Buy 10 and you save $5 which brings these down to 69 cents each. Our coupon for $.40 off FOUR (4) doubles and brings these down to 49 cents each. We use these and they’re also a good item to help mix and match those 10 items. It doesn’t matter how many of these we get because they’re always on sale. We just need them to fill in the gaps.

Maruchan Bowls or Yakisoba Noodles: Regular price is 99 cents.  Our coupon for $.50 off ONE (1) doubles to $1 so we can get these free. Another side dish we can wipe out of the budget if we do it right. (Don’t worry. We just use the noodles, we don’t actually eat all that salt!) We want to get at least 10 of these on this shopping trip.

Marie Callender Side Dishes: On sale this week for $1.49. With our coupon for $.75 off ONE (1) we can also get these free. Another side dish we can wipe off our list for an entire year – IF we have enough coupons AND we split it into multiple transactions. We want to get at least 20 of these on this shopping trip.

Planning the actual shopping trip

Now, we need to keep two things in mind:

  1. We have to buy multiples of 10 of the items that are on the Buy 10 Save $5 list. Yes, we can mix and match.
  2. We can only use 5 identical coupons per transaction 

This means, if we want to get 20 boxes of Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese, we’re going to have to use 4 transactions. BUT… we’re also going to have to buy 5 more items from the Buy 10 Save $5 list if we want to get that additional $5 savings. By the same token, we can get 10 boxes of Betty Crocker Cake Mix because our coupon is for 75 cents off TWO boxes, which means we only need 5 coupons per transaction.

This is where the planning part comes in. Here’s our list, broken down into transactions:

Transaction #1

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #2

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #3

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #4

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #5

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #6

  • 6 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 6 = $5.94 With coupon = $1.50
  • 4 Campbell’s Crm. Of Mushroom – $.69 x 4 = $2.76 With coupon = $1.96
  • 2 French’s French Fried Onions – $2.49 x 2 = $4.98 With coupon = $2.98
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $26.60 Total Cost: $8.41 Total Savings: $18.19 Savings Percent: 68.4%

Retail Value of All Purchases: $125.85

Total Cost of All Purchases: $20.76

Total Savings: $105.09

Savings Percent: $83.50%

But This Isn’t How REAL People Shop!

We know what you’re thinking – There’s no meat, no vegetables, no dairy in this list! And you’re right, there isn’t. This is our list of items we’re going to buy to take advantage of sale prices and coupons.

Let’s say our budget for the week is $100. We still have $80 left to use on non-sale items and those perishable items you never have a coupon for.

Not to mention the fact that we’ve now completely eliminated the need to purchase these items for another year – which means we can lower our budget to $80 a week and use that $20 for something else.

And here’s something else: Our grocery budget was almost $200 a week but because of the stockpiling we’ve been doing we’re now spending less than $120 a week! That’s $80 a week we’ve freed up to spend on other things – like paying off bills or Christmas shopping or a vacation!

Who Has Time For All Those Multiple Transactions?

Multiple transactions doesn’t necessarily mean multiple trips to the store.  In this case we did all the shopping at once.  We purchased 30 boxes of Mac & Cheese, 16 cake mixes, 30 Marie Callender side dishes, and so on, all in the same trip.  But when we placed everything on the conveyor belt at check out we broke it up into 6 different transactions.  Otherwise, we would only have been able to use a maximum of 5 of each of our coupons. And when you think about it, it doesn’t take much additional time.

You’re ringing up the same number of items and using the same number of coupons – you’re just breaking it up into separate transactions.

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