TAMPA, Fla. — You may have noticed recently that things are getting more expensive. Travel, cars, electronics, even your groceries.
Food prices have gone up over the past year, due in part to supply chain issues magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says grocery prices are up more than three percent over the last year. Some items like meat are up even more-- nearly ten percent over the last year. That may not sound like much, but it adds up over time.
The answer to saving a lot of money at the grocery store is planning. Take the time to research what's in season, what's on sale and where you can find the best deals.
Make a list of the groceries you need before you go shopping. This will help cut down on some impulse purchases. Having a list also helps you easily compare prices between different stores. You can shop at a grocery store that isn't your usual go-to if the items you need are on sale there. If you know you use a lot of one item and you notice it's on sale, you can stock up and save it for later.
Usually when we think of clipping coupons, we think of mailers or the Sunday paper. You can find coupons from a variety of different items, from medicine to pantry staples. If cutting coupons out of papers seems like a hassle, you can go online.
"For most stores, look on their site if they have a coupon section and give it a browse before you go," said Andrew Gretchko from Coupon Cabin.
Most grocery retailers offer electronic coupons on their apps that you just have to add to your loyalty account for automatic savings. There are also other coupon apps, browser extensions and websites you can scan for coupons. Sometimes, you can even use multiple coupons on one item.
Gretchko says some of the biggest savings come after a trip to the store, "These are some of the best deals out there, the ones that print at the register after you've checked out. So they're maybe not for this shopping trip but for the next one, so don't throw those away or give them back to the cashier."
Think outside the box
If you prefer to grocery shop online for pickup or delivery for convenience or to reduce the temptation to buy things you don't need in the store, you can find coupons for cash back or even rewards for other perks like airline miles on sites like Coupon Cabin or Coupons.com. Apps like Ibotta and Shopkick can also offer additional savings.
We often think of delivery services to be more expensive, but you can find major savings, especially if it's your first time buying from a delivery service or meal prep company. "Some of that grocery delivery you can get 10 dollars cash back. Shipt offers $5.50 cash back. Be creative and not necessarily get sticker shock because you can find a lot of great deals," said Gretchko.
Remember you can use multiple apps, coupons and sales to your advantage. If your credit card or debit card offers cash back options for the grocery store, you can save even more on top of the offers you've already used.
Some browser extensions if you shop online, like Honey, Rakuten, Retailmenot and Coupon Cabin, can offer cash back on your full purchase as well.
"You think a grocery store price is a grocery store price, but going earlier in the day you can see better deals," said Gretchko. Many stores run limited sales and once those items run out, the sales are over. You'll also find more fresh produce and fully stocked shelves the earlier in the day you go.
The time of the month matters too. Grocery stores try and cash in on the fact that many of their customers get paid at the end of the month, so they'll stack better deals at the beginning of the following month when people tend to have some more disposable income.
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