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Groceries and household items can get really expensive, especially as your family grows from two to three or more! I was shocked one month when I added up all of my grocery bills and found that I was spending around $800 a month! So I enlisted the help of my money-savvy hubby and together we began to work on a new budget and try figure out some ways to save money at the store.
We decided that we wanted to spend no more than $100 per week when grocery shopping or around $400 per month. For us, grocery shopping includes not just food but also household items such as toilet paper, cleaning products, and self-care items like shampoo and deodorant, etc. Basically we wanted to include everything we’d typically buy at the grocery store in this budget. After implementing all of these changes, we were able to reduce our grocery bill by 50% and save $400 per month.
If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries and household items, I hope you’ll find some of these suggestions helpful! Here’s what we did to cut our grocery bill in half:
1. Learn how to coupon
I watched an episode or two of Extreme Couponing but knew that I was not the type of girl who wanted to buy 96 bags of croutons at one time in an effort to save money. So I devised a somewhat more moderate approach to coupons. This is what has helped me:
Use manufacturer coupons. Coupons.com is where I get the vast majority of my coupons. They have such a variety, I can usually find what I need through them. You’re able to print 2 coupons per item per device. For items I can’t find on coupons.com, I check with the manufacturer or brand website to see if I can find coupons for what I need there.
Use your grocery store card. Many stores these days allow you to load digital coupons onto your card that are used automatically at checkout. This can allow you to get more of the same item using coupons (for example, you can print 2 coupons from coupons.com and then use a third digital coupon to stock up on 3 of the same item).
Always try to pair manufacturer coupons with a store coupon, store sale, and/or rebate program (more on sales and rebates in a moment). Stores will sometimes provide coupons that are considered store coupons, meaning they are issued by the store itself rather than by the manufacturer of the item. Often, these store coupons can be combined with manufacturer coupons to get the lowest possible price on the item (check with your grocery store’s coupon policy to confirm that they allow this). Look for these coupons attached to shelves near the item and at checkout when you get your receipt.
One other important aspect of couponing: I only buy items we need and will use. I stock up on nonperishable items when I can get them at the lowest prices so that I can then, essentially, control the price. When the price goes up, I have the luxury of waiting until the next coupon/sale/rebate combo comes around rather than buying at full price. I do not, however, buy dozens and dozens of items simply because the price is low. I also don’t stockpile perishable items.
Remember, you’re not saving money if you’re having to throw out food that has gone bad because you bought too much and never got around to using it.
(If you find that you’ve bought too much of an item and will not be able to use it before it expires, check with your local homeless shelter. Many times, shelters are in need of these items [provided they are unopened/unused] and will gladly accept your donation, that way you’re helping others and not letting anything go to waste!).
2. Use rebate programs, such as Ibotta
When I first heard about Ibotta, I definitely had a “too good to be true” mentality about it. But the more I researched it, I discovered that it is very similar to using a coupon, only you get a rebate, which means you get money back after you buy the item.
How it works: You choose the grocery store where you are going to shop and unlock rebates on items you want to buy by watching short video clips or answering a question. Then, after you have finished your shopping, you scan the bar codes on the items and take a picture of your receipt to claim the rebates. It’s so quick and easy!
Once you redeem your rebates, the money is then added to your Ibotta account and you can either transfer it to a PayPal account or redeem it for gift cards to places like Amazon and Starbucks.
There are other features to Ibotta such as bonuses for redeeming so many rebates in a certain time period and for referring friends to the program. These also tend to add up quickly! For example, if you sign up for Ibotta using my link, you will receive a $10 bonus when you redeem your first rebate, and I will receive $5 for referring you. Then you can share your link with others to get the $5 referral bonus! Such a fun and easy way to earn extra money and share the wealth with your friends!
I also use Checkout 51 which is similar to Ibotta but tends to have less of a selection of rebates, but every little bit helps, right?! 🙂
Another great rebate program is Ebates, which is used for online purchases. To earn rebates, you log in to your Ebates account, then go shopping at various online retailers and get a percentage back of what you spent. So it’s sort of like using a digital coupon, only you get cash back rather than saving money when you checkout. Once you have enough money in your account, you can request to have a check sent to you. This was especially helpful when I was buying maternity items online during my pregnancy! I was able to get what I needed and get money back!
Sign up now to claim your $10!
3. Study your grocery store’s sales rotations
Grocery stores tend to run sales on rotations. Take some time and learn the sale rotations of your favorite store.
If you find that particular store puts toilet paper on sale once every 2 months, then stock up enough to last two months so that each time you’re buying it at the lowest price. Same with shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, trash bags, canned goods, and any other nonperishable item.
4. Combine sales, coupons, and rebates as often as possible
By doing this, you can sometimes get products for free or nearly free. If an item is usually $3.50 but is on sale for $2.50 and you have a coupon for $1.00 and an Ibotta rebate for $1.00, then you’re only paying $.50 for that item! This is one of the main ways I’ve been able to save so much money. It takes a bit of extra time and effort to do my homework before going to the store, but it has definitely paid off in money saved!
5. Give up your brand loyalty
I have very few things that I buy based on brand anymore. Now I compare prices and savings options before choosing which items I want to buy. If you have a brand you really love and want to stick with, you can still find savings. You may just have to work a little harder at it. Try signing up with that brand/manufacturer on their website to receive coupons for their specific products.
6. Make a weekly menu
I check out the sales, coupons, and rebates I have for the week and try to tailor my menu around those items. For example, if potatoes are on sale and I have an Ibotta rebate for potatoes, I will pick up a large bag of them. Then I can use those to make potato soup as a main dish and mashed, roasted, or baked potatoes as a side for other meals later in the week. I also check with my hubby to see if there’s any particular meal he would like that week, and then I find a way to make that work with the deals I’ve found.
7. Stick to a list (and don’t go to the store hungry!)
This one is a biggie. Make a list and, while you’re at it, note which items have coupons, rebates, and sales. I found that doing so helped when I would see an item that appeared cheaper up front but, from my list, I could easily see was actually more expensive because I didn’t have coupons and rebates for that item. Also, don’t give in to the temptation to throw extra things in your cart. These items can add up quickly. Unless it’s something you genuinely forgot to put on the list and really need for that week, put it back on the shelf. Eating before you go to the store can help cut down on these impulse buys because you’re less likely to have cravings while shopping.
8. Last, but certainly not least, pray before you shop
Ask the Lord to help you to be a good steward of the money He provides to your family and to give you the tools you need to provide nutritious meals for your family while honoring your budget. God cares about you and your family and will help you as you strive to wisely spend the resources He has provided.
After utilizing all of these tips for nearly 2 years, I can honestly say the savings has been pretty incredible!
We’ve been able to cut our grocery bill in half and, as a result, have more money in other areas of our budget for spending, saving, and giving.
It has taken practice and some trial and error for us to get to this point, so don’t worry if you go over budget one week. Just take a look at what you bought to see if there’s anything you could’ve done differently and then try again next week!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below about how you save money at the grocery store!