PART 3: Deciding Where to Shop
First, it is a good idea to know your local stores’ coupon policies. If you have a store nearby that will double or triple coupons, that will likely be the best place to shop. (Click here to read more about what doubling coupons means.) Coupon policies are usually located on the store website or you could ask a manager if they have a printed copy.
Next, you should read the stores’ weekly ads. If you don’t get them in the newspaper, you can view most of them on the store’s website. You’ll want to compare prices on items you use most, fresh produce and meat, and staple items you can stock up on, especially if you have a coupon for it. (We’ll talk more about stocking up in a later post.)
You save the most money when you can combine a store’s sale with a coupon. An easy way to do that is to find a local blog that posts Coupon Matchups. They do the hard work for you by researching which items in each store’s sale ads have a matching coupon in circulation (from the newspaper or online). Most of them will write exactly where you can find the particular coupon, so even if you haven’t clipped it (but have filed it in the original insert), you can quickly locate it. They also provide a direct link to any online printable coupons.
Here are some blogs I have gone to for Coupon Matchups:
Penny Pinchin’ Mom – Grocery stores in the Kansas City area (Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Hen House)
Saving Cents With Sense – Grocery stores in the Phoenix area (Albertson’s, Bashas, Fresh & Easy, Fry’s, Safeway, Sprouts)
Totally Target – Target stores nationwide
Money Saving Mom – Just about every store you’d ever want to shop at – regional and nationwide
Some of these blogs also have a Coupon Database where you can search for coupons. So say, for example, that you need to buy cream cheese this week for a special recipe you want to make. You remember seeing a coupon for cream cheese somewhere, but you didn’t clip it since it’s not something you normally buy. Just type “cream cheese” in the Coupon Database search box and it will come up with the date and type of insert, plus the expiration date of the coupon (if it doesn’t show up then it may have expired as most databases will delete expired coupons).
To save time, I usually try to pick one grocery store and one drug store to shop at each week, but if you have time and need to save money, going to two grocery stores could be worth it.
In my next post, I’ll talk about shopping at drug stores and why it is worth it to Play the Drug Store Game.
How do you decide where you’re going to shop?