You do not have to be an extreme couponer to cut costs at home. Here are some simple changes you can make that can start adding up the savings.
Compare the Right Numbers
When you trying to cut costs at home on everyday items, especially groceries, it is key to make sure you are comparing “like to like”. This is where the concept of unit pricing comes in and becomes invaluable. Unit pricing is a way to understand that even though the small jar of peanut butter is on sale, it still costs more per ounce (or other type of unit like gram, pound, etc.) than the bulk size peanut butter. Most grocery stores will put the unit price on the shelf tag that displays the name and price of the product. If you are shopping somewhere that does not post the unit price clearly, just grab your smart phone, or bring along a calculator and take a few seconds to figure it out yourself by dividing the total price for the item by the number of units like ounces. Here is an example: peanut butter that retails for $4.99 comes in a jar with 24 ounces, so you divide $4.99 by 24 and get a price per ounce of 20.8 cents per ounce. You can then compare unit prices to other similar items by doing the same simple calculation. When you are shopping for items that take a long time to expire, or items that are shelf stable, this process can definitely help lighten your wallet’s load over time.
Get the Most Out of Your Coupons, With the Least Work
Coupons are a wonderful way to cut costs at home, but if you do not have the time to transform into an extreme couponer, you can at least use a few of the best tricks they do. Some stores will offer store coupons both online and through direct mail. Target is a store well known for doing this. You can take the store coupons that say at the top with white letters on a black bar “Store X Coupon” and pair them up with coupons directly from the product manufacturer. Manufacturer’s coupons say “Manufacturers Coupon” right at the top just like the store specific coupons. By pairing a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon, you get even more savings. If you time it just right, you can even get a store sale added in to save you even more money on your purchase.
Another smart couponing tip is to frequent stores that offer coupon doubling or tripling. Stores that offer this can be hard to find in some areas of the United States, however, so also make sure you participate in the store’s own loyalty and rewards programs. Most programs do not require that you carry around those annoying cards anymore because you can link them to your email address or phone number. Grocery stores are even beginning to offer coupons online that you can “load” onto your card and then not have to spend hours upon hours clipping out of the mail and newspaper inserts. If you choose to link your email address to these types of programs, it helps to create a separate email through a free email provider like Hotmail or Yahoo so all the store-specific savings head to one place and do not clog up the inbox you use for correspondence that is more personal. This way you can cut costs at home, without having your personal email inbox flooded with coupon and store offers.
Buying in Bulk – When it is Worth it
If you bake a lot, or make many school lunches every week, or make homemade meals for your four legged furry friends, it might be beneficial to invest in a membership at a club-style store. Stores like Sam’s Club and Costco require a yearly membership fee, but the savings you can get from buying in bulk can offset the annual cost depending on what you are shopping for. When it comes to items like soda, if you shop smart stocking up when the local grocery store has a good sale they can beat club store prices by not just a few cents, but a few dollars. However, if you are looking for white rice and have room to store it, purchasing it in a 25 pound bag at the club store and keeping it stored appropriately can provide a big cost savings over time.
Making lunches for your children to take to school is another area where the club store can benefit you. Oftentimes specific bread companies actually sell larger loaves of bread at the club stores and package them in twos. Two larger loaves of bread from the club store often costs less than the retail price of one smaller loaf of the same type of bread at a local grocery store. Another area you can save money on kids’ lunches is in beverages. No matter what type of drink you send with your child, from juice pouches to bottled water, you have a good chance at saving money picking them up at the club store. Make sure you compare unit prices to local grocery store sales though, because every now and then an amazing sale at the supermarket can beat out the club store pricing.
To make it easier to facilitate buying in bulk, look for a simple shelving unit at local garage sales or thrift stores. Putting some extra shelving in your garage or storage space will not only make more out of your space, but also give you a useful mental picture of how much space you have to store more items if you are considering buying in bulk.