The prices of groceries are surging. This past September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that retail grocery prices had risen 6.3% from the previous year. Many are suggesting that the current trend will raise grocery prices another 4% or more. There hasn’t been inflation like this since the 1970s. (source: WSJ)
If you keep in mind that each percentage point equals $12 billion in annual spending, then you might be considering joining the coupon revolution. I know that I am.
But where do you start? How can you keep a level of sanity when the idea of couponing conjures up the image of carts full of Gatorade and toothpaste?
Tip One: Just start. Whether that includes subscribing to a coupon website or ordering an extra Sunday newspaper, start collecting the coupons. Print, cut, and organize. How do you organize? I am glad you asked…
Tip Two: Get a system: Some couponing veterans suggest starting out using a binder with clear inserts to organize. Tabs (remember those in high school?) are a great way to categorize and establish your method. Check coupons weekly and throw out any that have expired. (check out this website for more veteran organizing ideas)
Tip Three: Search the mailers, newspaper ads, and websites for weekly deals. Keep it simple. Pick two or three grocery stores to visit and make a list. Remove the coupons that you will be using and paperclip them (or use an envelope) to your list. This will make checking out a smoother and more enjoyable experience.
Tip Four: Stay Calm. If by the time you get to the store with your list and coupons and the items are gone, ask for a rain check. Wait for a manufacturer coupon on the same item and get it for an even greater deal.
Remember: good deals and new coupons come along every week. If you didn’t get the $1 tubes of toothpaste this time, you’ll get them at the same price (or better) in a few weeks.
Tip Five: Rejoice in your savings. When you’ve had a particularly successful shopping expedition, save the receipts. Put them on your fridge. Tape them to your coupon folders. Call your neighbor and tell her about the deals you scored. Remember this moment because the times will inevitably come when cutting and sorting become frustrating or tiresome.
Even if you don’t leave the grocery stores with carts full of free food or have a garage stocked with every imaginable type of cold cereal, you should feel proud of your newfound providence. Every penny saved is a penny earned.