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Frugal Family: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

Combine coupons with sale prices to save a bundle.

With grocery and gas prices climbing higher and higher, more people than ever are turning to coupons to stretch their grocery budget.  This week, I turned to SouthernSavers.com to find some tips for making the most out of savings and discounts at the grocery store.

According to the web site, most people sit down every week, make a list of what items they need and want at the grocery store, and then head off.  This, they say, is the equivalent of printing out a list of everything that isn't on sale and then buying it.

Most grocery items follow a six-week sale cycle, meaning that every six weeks, the item will be sold for its "rock bottom" lowest price.  That is the time to stock up.  By purchasing enough of any (nonperishable, obviously) item to last you six weeks, you'll avoid having to pay full retail before it goes on sale again.

Where do coupons come in?  If you plan your list and your menu carefully, you'll be able to stack coupons with sale items to save even more.  For example, if cereal is priced at $4 a box but goes on sale for $2.75, that is the time to pull out your $1 off manufacturer's coupon to get it for even less.  Many stores will let you use both a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon, so you may be able to save another $1 if you have both.  All of a sudden, your $4 box of cereal is down to just 75 cents.

Make sure you keep informed of the store's latest coupon policy, as they do change on occasion.  Currently, Publix, Kroger, and Ingles all double coupons up to 50 cents, but Ingles will only let you double three coupons for every $10 spent.  Ingles occasionally will triple coupons.  Buy One Get One Free translates to 50% off at these stores, too, and you do not have to buy two items to get the sale price.  (This is not the case in Florida, though, where you do have to buy two items.)  When items are Buy One Get One Free, make sure you use two coupons if you're buying two of that item.

Many couponers clip from the weekly newspaper inserts, but you'll also find coupons in magazines, in your email inbox, or online at sites such as www.coupons.com, www.redplum.com, and www.smartsource.com.  Some store websites have coupons that you can load directly onto your shopper's card to save even more.  It's all a matter of how much time you're willing to spend finding them. 

Get organized: small accordion files, envelopes, or a binder are all good options.  Organize your coupons according to category, store layout, or expiration date, whichever works best for you.

Check out www.SouthernSavers.com for even more helpful tips on getting the  most bang for your buck.

I am nowhere near becoming an Extreme Couponer, but I would love to hear about it if you are.  I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of ways to save.  Please share your tips and trade secrets for using coupons to their fullest potential.

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