Saving Money on Groceries Using Coupons – The Basics

This is the second part of my series called Shop Smart – Spend Less. These are tips I’ve found for getting the most out of your grocery budget. Today I want to talk about couponing and the potential savings you can find at your favorite stores.

I’ve couponed off and on for years.  I first got the couponing bug when I saw the founder of the Grocery Game on Oprah and was hooked. I didn’t really understand most of it but I was fascinated by the possibility that I could save money by simply cutting out coupons from the Sunday paper. I would take coupons to the store for items that I needed to buy for the week and get my $.50 or $.35 off and I thought I had done really well.  Unfortunately that’s the way most people use coupons so they miss out on alot of savings. 

I’ll go into more detail on the mechanics of couponing in future posts.  Today I want to just talk about the basics behind getting a great deal when using coupons. I want you to understand what kinds of savings are possible if you do it right.

Scenario 1

I’m going to use Kibbles n Bits as my example. Let’s  say you normally buy the 4 lb bags of Kibble n Bits for your doggie and it costs $4.99.  You find a manufacturers coupon for $1.00 in the Sunday paper, so you would pay $3.99 for your bag of dog food. That’s a savings of  20%. Not bad.

Scenario 2

 Kibbles N Bits Dog Food is normally $4.99 but this week they’re Buy One Get One Free at Publix.


BOGO deals ring up as each item being 50% off instead of one actually being free. This is a good thing. Instead of $4.99 each bag would $2.50 (actually if you bought two one would be $2.50 and the other $2.49).  This is a great deal by itself. You would save 50% instead of the 20% in the example above without using any coupons at all.  If you just focused your couponing energy on BOGO deals you can save alot of money, but wait it gets better.

Scenario 3

There’s a printable store coupon for $1.00 off Kibbles and Bits on the Publix website. If you print two coupons  and buy two bags of dog food the prices would go down to:

$2.50 (price after BOGO discount) – 1.00 (store coupon) = 1.50 
$2.49 (price after BOGO discount) – 1.00 (store coupon) = 1.49

 Total savings off the original price = 70%

Scenario 4

 There’s still more. There’s a manufacturers coupon in the 10/7 Red Plum newspaper insert. If you have two of these coupon, the price per bag goes down to less than a dollar per bag.

$2.50 (price after BOGO discount) – 1.00 (store coupon) – 1.00 manufacturers coupon = .50 
$2.49 (price after BOGO discount) – 1.00 (store coupon) – 1.00 manufacturers coupon = .49

Total Savings = 90%

I love these types of deals. When I run into them, I stock up. It would be silly to not stock up when you can get a product for a fraction of the original price. If you’ve ever watched Extreme Couponing on TLC, this is the strategy they use to get things for free.

A few things to remember.

  1.  Most online coupons only allow you to print them twice from the same computer. If you want to work a deal like this more than once, you will need to print them from different computers.
  2.  Check your grocery store policies on BOGO deals. Stores differ on the how they treat BOGO deals and coupons.
  3. All stores don’t allow you to use both store coupons and manufacturers coupons together but most do. Check the store policy.

Next week I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how couponing works and some tools you can use to get started.


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