Sharing the Wealth

money_tree I recently stumbled upon something that has revolutionized the way that Dan and I grocery shop, and we’ve told so many people about it already that I thought maybe it warranted a post for any of you out there that may be interested in saving a TON of money on the things you already buy.  This will also save me the time and trouble of going through this whole spiel with the random stranger on the street as I can now just say “Hey man, you want to cut your grocery bill in half?  Go check out my blog.”

The whole idea behind this magical shopping is to try to only buy items when they go on sale (everything goes on sale eventually), and then use coupons, stacking manufacturers coupons with store coupons when possible,  to push the price waaay down (yes, I’ve become the crazy coupon lady).  Seems like an easy enough concept right?

Well it is, but the problem is that it takes a lot of time and effort to southern saversidentify the sales and then match them with coupons to get real results.  But lucky for us, there’s a website – Southern Savers – that does all the work for you.  All you have to do is identify the store(s) that you’d like to shop, pick what you want to buy from their weekly ads, and then clip a few coupons. 

The first question everyone always asks when I start explaining this is “Where do I get coupons?”.  The short answer is the Sunday newspaper.  We currently buy 2-3 newspapers a week solely for the coupon inserts.  You might think that’s crazy, but we’re both pretty good at math, and we easily save three times the amount that we pay for the papers in one trip to the store.  I also don’t clip coupons until I use them.  I date and file the entire insert and clip the coupons as needed.  That saves this crazy coupon lady a lot time.

At first glance of the Southern Savers website, you might be a little overwhelmed and not sure how to get started, but I recommend first checking out her tutorials which explain in a little more depth the concepts that I very briefly went over.

http://www.southernsavers.com/tutorials/

Once you get a lay of the land, pull up your store’s weekly ad and try to create a shopping list.  Keep in mind that it does take time (about a month) to build up your coupon collection to where you feel like you have most of the coupons that Southern Savers matches with sale items.  Also remember that if you’re buying something on sale without a coupon that you are still likely saving a great deal so don’t get discouraged.

For those curious, I do Publix for my grocery shopping because we love the BOGO deals that instantly start you off saving 50%.  For anything health and beauty related, I’ve found great joy in exploiting shopping CVS and Rite Aid.  Since pharmacy-type stuff is generally a necessity and can get kind of expensive, I highly recommend you give it a try.  When done right, the Wal-marts or Costcos of the world don’t stand a chance (plus there’s the added bonus of not having to go to Wal-mart).  Just to give you an idea, here’s the take from my last week’s CVS and Rite Aid trip…

Last week - CVS & Rite Aid 

Total merchandise value: $150.35
Total spent: $12.75 ($8.43 of which was tax)

CVS and Rite Aid each have their own little saving programs that you need to understand before you go into the store.  I don’t use Walgreens, but if you prefer them, they have a similar program to CVS.  To see how to get started with CVS, click here; for Rite Aid, here; and for Walgreens, here.  I’m by no means an expert, but let me know if you have any questions.  Southern Savers does a great job posting “Getting Started” scenarios with each weekly ad to help you see how to make these programs start working for you.  The comments on the Southern Savers site are also a great source of information for those trying to figure things out.

Good luck and happy shopping (and saving)!

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