10 Ways to Save on Groceries … Without Clipping Coupons

Hate clipping coupons? There are plenty of other ways to save on groceries.

One of the largest expenses for most budgets is groceries. As much as we want to save money on food, it can feel next to impossible — that is, unless you want to sit and clip coupons.

While using coupons works for many, it is just not an option for some. Of course, if you do clip, these are additional things you can do to increase your overall savings. Here are a few of them.

1. Shop Store Brands

There is a common misconception that store brand means lower quality. This is not true. In fact, many store brands are the exact same name-brand product, just with a different label on the front.

2. Look High & Low

When you shop, the most expensive products are usually placed at eye level. You will often find less expensive items on the very top or lower shelves.

3. Avoid the End Caps

People are drawn here, and when they see items, they often assume that because they are on display, it must mean they are a good deal. Check the original and competitor prices to make sure you’re really getting a bargain.

4. Don’t Fall for Gimmicks

There are some common gimmicks stores use to help trick you into spending more. Here are two you will want to watch for:

  • Buy quantities at a set price. For example, if you see something priced at 2 for $5, you do not have to purchase two items, you can buy one. Be sure to check any details.
  • Purchase limits. When you see terms like “limit three” next to a display, it makes you think that if there is a limit, it is a must-have item.

5. Redefine Dinner

There is no rule that says you have to make a huge three-course meal every night of the week. It is OK to have soup, sandwiches or even salads for dinner. By making simpler meals, you can save on the food you need to purchase, thereby dropping your grocery bill.

6. Shop the Right Day

Many grocery stores offer “short-sales” which are one-, two- or three-day sales. If you shop on one of these days, you will not only get those additional discounts, you will also get the regular weekly deals. Doing this will put you in the store just one day a week, which can absolutely help you save money.

7. Change Things Up

If you have more than one store near you, why not try a different one? If you can split your trip and shop the sales at each of them, you can save on your overall grocery bill. Of course, if they are not close, take into account the time and fuel you’ll spend on making two trips.

8. Make a Menu & Shopping List

By planning a menu and a shopping list, you not only know what you will need to purchase at the store, you’ll feel more organized when you get home from work and need to prepare dinner. You might check out my menu plan and shopping list forms.

9. Shop on a Full Stomach (& Alone if You Can)

If you have ever shopped when you are hungry, you usually find that you toss in additional items you normally would not purchase. If you shop when you are full, you will be more likely to stick to your list.

It is also easier to not purchase additional items when you shop alone. I realize this may not be an option for a lot of families, so just make sure that you shop once everyone has already eaten. You can also ask your kids to help you find certain items, which will keep their minds on what you need.

10. Shop in Season

When you shop produce, only purchase the in-season items. For example, black grapes are in season during the summer months. Sure, you might find them during the winter months, but you will pay a premium, as they are more difficult to get into your store.

Looking for more tips for lowering your food bill? Here’s 7 ways shopping like a chef can help you save. And, for more smart spending reads, visit Credit.com’s personal finance learning center.

Image: Topalov

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8 Tips to Help You Save Money on Halloween Costumes

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If your kids are like mine, they turn to you the day after Halloween and already know what costume they want for next year. Of course, that desire rarely stays the same come the following October, so you can’t really costume shop that early.

But once Halloween is approaching, your kids decide exactly what to dress up as, and you head to the store to see what you can find. Costumes can certainly be expensive. If you have multiple children — and if you and your spouse happen to dress up too — that gets even more pricey. You can easily drop more than $100, just on costumes.

But it doesn’t have to break the bank. We’ve got some awesome money saving tips that you can use to help you and your family celebrate the holiday, all while keeping the wallet happy.

1. Make Your Own

Even if you are not crafty, or can’t sew, you can still make your costume. Consider browsing Pinterest, where you can find all sorts of awesome ideas. Your costume doesn’t have to be perfect — it just needs to be fun to make. You can even find recipes to make your own hair dye, fake blood and more. Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas.

2. Visit Thrift Stores

Many times, you can find Halloween costumes for sale at your local thrift store. Sometimes they are brand new and other times they have been worn only once.

3. Use Coupons/Sales

Keep your eyes open and you can find costumes on sale. You can also use coupons to get an even bigger discount. For instance, Target often releases a Cartwheel coupon for 50% off of costumes, which can make for a great deal.

4. Reuse Clothes You Have

Take the clothes you have and turn them into a costume. For instance, wear a black shirt and pants. Then, create a tail and make ears and you’ll be a mouse. Put on overalls and a flannel shirt and put some dirt on your face and you could be a farmer. This is a good way to be creative all without spending much.

5. Swap Costumes

Swap costumes with a friend who has kids about the same age as yours. This is a great way to get rid of the costume your child wore only once for something like new. Best of all, everyone wins.

6. Be Flexible

You might want to dress up as a grand wizard, but the cost is just a bit out of reach. Change direction and find something that doesn’t cost as much.

7. Shop Yard Sales

Check out yard sales for costumes and costume ideas. This is something you may be able to do as the holiday approaches or something you might want to consider doing throughout the year. You might find a piece here and there and can build a costume from the bargains you find.

8. Shop at the End of the Season

This one may not help you with this year’s costume, but is good to keep in mind for when the holiday has passed. Once Halloween is over, many stores will offer holiday items at a deep discount, so consider picking up makeup, colored hair spray and other items you can put away for next year. Think twice before getting a costume your child may not wear or could outgrow next year. However, these may make for good dress up items, if they’re a good deal.

Image: Jani Bryson

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A Eulogy for the Bed Bath & Beyond 20% Off Coupon

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We are gathered here today to say farewell to the Bed Bath & Beyond 20% discount coupons, whose passing came on suddenly this week.

Oh, dear 20% off coupon, you touched so many lives in so many different ways. You’ve been the perfect companion through all of life’s biggest moments, including my own.

Your presence was always a welcome one — I’d see your blue and white amidst the bills and magazines, and it was like seeing an old friend. Your reliability provided a strong sense of comfort, whether you knew it or not.

I grew up with you and shared the big life-altering moments with you. I remember taking stacks of you to the store so I could load up on shower totes, laundry baskets and extra long sheets in the fall before starting college.

This is back when you didn’t expire and they let us use several we’d saved in preparation for this shopping experience. As Mom took them out of her purse, we felt such pride in having you there with us.

And then, when I moved several states away, you were there again, helping me stock up my first apartment with pillows, kitchenware and a good reading chair. And, when Mom headed back home and left me entirely on my own, I found she’d left you there to support me again — including a note saying I had you just in case I needed anything.

You remained steadfast through the end, dear 20% coupon. It is a sad moment for us to say goodbye. Sure, you’ll be replaced with the Beyond+ loyalty program, which will include free shipping and 20% off each entire purchase, but no one could replace you. (Especially because this will include a $29 annual fee).

We never got to tell you just how important you were while you were here, using you every time you came along, but maybe you knew your value all along. That’s why you kept showing up. I’ll probably forever sift through the weekly ads looking for you, just on the off chance you changed your mind and came back to me. But, even if I don’t see you, you will live on in my memory, forever and beyond.

Image: Constance Brinkley-Badgett

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