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Friday, April 18, 2014

Elizabeth Street

HOW I LEARNED TO CUT MY GROCERY BILL IN HALF

How I Learned to Cut My Grocery Bill in Half

Aug 18, 2013

How I Learned to Cut My Grocery Bill in Half

Tiffany Zezula is a lawyer, mother of two little girls, and a master couponer. Before you roll your eyes, consider this: Zezula regularly hits the grocery store and has the store paying her for the groceries, thanks to coupons. Other shoppers literally gather around to watch as she checks out because she ends up getting so many items for free. 

According to Tiffany, who has this down to a science, gathering her coupons takes her no more than 30 minutes a week and she never pays for staple items. Let that sink in for a moment: The woman never buys paper towels, toilet paper, or mustard. With her grocery bill whittled down to 50 percent of what it used to be, she can focus her spending on organic produce and dairy and local meat and seafood. 

The secret is in knowing your local store's coupon policies, stocking up on staple items when they're on sale, and doing just a little bit of legwork. Check out Tiffany's five tips to couponing below:

1. Study your store’s circular. It probably comes to your house (it may be one of those annoying pieces of mail that you usually toss--don't!), or look it up online, but find out what’s on sale that week. Those are the items that you want to stock up on! Don’t be afraid to buy four or more of an item that you know that you use. You don’t have to be as intensely motivated as the people on Extreme Couponing, but do keep a decent stockpile of nonperishable goods that you use. The more you study the store’s circular, the more familiar you’ll get with a good versus great sale price.

2. Find coupons and use them. You can find coupons at sites like coupons.com or on a manufacturer’s website. Get the Sunday paper where you can find inserts filled with coupons (RedPlum and SmartSource). Also, don't be brand specific if you don’t need to be. You’ll find more coupons for more items if you broaden your search.

3. Sale item + coupon = great savings. That’s the gist of it. There are a variety of ways to save, but essentially you are looking for an item in the store circular and finding a coupon for that item. For example: Pasta is on sale for $1, you have a coupon for that exact manufacturer’s pasta for $1. You just got the pasta for free! Bonus: Find four of those coupons and get four of them for free. Also, make sure you are a store award member.

4. Research your store’s coupon policy. Many stores double or triple a manufacturer’s coupon amount up to $1. Therefore a $.75 coupon is really worth $1.50, a $.50 coupon is worth $1.00, but a $1 coupon is always worth $1.

5. Know the experts. Check out Livingrichwithcoupons for more information on the basics to couponing!

Want more info on cutting down your grocery bill? Check out the best apps for couponing in our slideshow above!

By Tiffany Zezula

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