Frugal Grocery Shopping

How to Master Frugal Grocery Shopping in 8 Simple Steps

Frugal Grocery Shopping
It's inevitable, we have to eat and drink to stay alive, so a trip to the grocery store each week, month or whenever you go is just a normal part of life. Sadly, the price of groceries to feed even a small family can make a pretty good dent in the household budget. The good news is that dent doesn't have to be huge. That being said, I'd like to share a few frugal grocery shopping tips that I hope will help you leave the grocery store with less stress.

1. Use Cashback Apps

Many cashback apps such as Berry Cart, Checkout 51, Ibotta, Saving Star and Walmart's Savings Catcher will give you cash back on generic brands, produce and name brands. You'll need to save your receipts, and in some cases you'll have to scan the barcodes on products.

You can save even more by combining your cashback savings with manufacturer coupons, store coupons, digital coupons and other cashback apps that may have the same offers.

2. Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk can cost more, but in the long run it does save you money. For instance, I reduced our monthly grocery bill by over $300.00 when I started buying meat bundles from IGA in Vienna, Illinois. Since my family goes through quite a bit of sugar, I also buy the Psst 25 lb. bag of sugar for $12.49 from the Harrisburg, Illinois Kroger. The 25 lb. bag of sugar lasts at least a month in my household, which is a lot longer than one or two 5 lb. bags, so in the long run, it's much cheaper to pay for the 25 lb. bag.

3. Avoid Buying Prepackaged Foods

Although it's time consuming, you'll save more money by making many foods from scratch. You know, things such as cookies, yogurt, bread, pizza dough, tortillas, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, pancake mix, cake mix, taco seasoning, onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix and chili seasoning.

The aforementioned DIY food recipes can be made in batches and stored in the pantry or freezer. Just click on the name of each to view and print the recipe as well as see how long it can be stored in your pantry or freezer.

4. Check the Bargain Bins and Clearance Aisles

The first thing you should do upon entering the store during your frugal grocery shopping trip is check the bargain bins and/or clearance aisles first. You never know what kind of bargains you'll discover, and if you happen to have a coupon for one or more items in the bargain bin or clearance aisle, you could score a freebie or get the product nearly free!

I always check out the bargain bins in my local Kroger, and I once got a 28 oz. bottle of TRESemme shampoo for less than $1.00. It was marked down to $1.99, but with my $1.00 off coupon, I got it for $.99!

5. Grow Your Own Herbs

If you've recently shopped for fresh herbs at your local grocery store, you were probably just as shocked as I was to discover how expensive they are. For instance, in my area, at the present time, .75 oz. of fresh rosemary is $1.98. As we all know, cooking with fresh ingredients is always best in regards to health and taste, but at that price, it makes one not want to buy fresh produce, right? Good news, there is a cheaper alternative: grow your own herbs! Yes, I know, it calls for a little extra time and work, but it saves money, and since we're a frugal bunch, saving money is our number one goal. 😉

Off the Grid News offers a great beginner's guide on the basics of growing and preserving your own herbs and spices. In addition, I recommend their easy potting mix recipe.

6. Plan Your Menu Based on What You Have Left and What's on Sale

Before each of my frugal grocery shopping trips, I browse the local sale ads, check my pantry, deep freeze and refrigerator. Then I create my grocery list based on what I already have, what's on sale and what I have coupons for. This takes me an hour or two, but the savings is well worth my time.

7. Add Seasonal Produce to Your Frugal Grocery Shopping List

Actually, your best money-saving option when it comes to produce is to grow your own, and then freeze and can it to use when it's out of season. However, if you don't want to mess with gardening and canning, then your next best option for saving money on produce is to buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale and in season. If they're on sale, buy extra to freeze for later use.

8. Use Coupons

I'll admit that I don't use a lot of coupons, and the reason is because I buy a lot of store brand products. I've learned that store brands are often cheaper, even after using a coupon on a name brand that's on sale. Therefore, if I can get the store brand cheaper, I will. Many times there's not much difference between store and name brand, but with some things there is a big difference, and when that's the case, I'll buy name brand and look for coupons for those brands.

If you prefer a name brand over a generic brand and there are coupons for those brands, use the coupons. When using coupons for your preferred brands, try to use them when those brands are on sale to save even more money, and if you can stack them with a store coupon and/or cashback rebate, you could end up with freebies.

One last thing I'd like to say about coupons is if you're a regular Kroger customer like me, be sure to create an online account on their website. By creating an online Kroger account, you'll be able to load digital coupons to your Kroger card. Kroger keeps track of what you buy the most, and they offer digital coupons for those brands. Yes, those brands include the store brands, so you can actually save with coupons on store brand groceries, household items and etc.! This is one thing I love about Kroger! They also, on occasion, will send you paper coupons in the mail, and those coupons also match up with what you buy the most from their store.

Do you have any frugal grocery shopping advice that you'd like to add? Leave a comment to share your money-saving grocery advice.

Frugal Grocery Shopping - Saving Star Rebates

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Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

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Online Thrift Store Shopping

Go-to Guide for Online Thrift Store Shopping

Online Thrift Store Shopping

As a frugal shopper, you probably visit a lot of thrift stores in your area, and there is probably times when you don't feel like getting out of the house. During the times when you prefer to say home, online thrift store shopping is the way to go. Yes, that's right, you can get your thrift store fix without leaving home!

You can save time and aggravation shopping at online thrift stores by using the stores' search feature as well as shopping by categories. When shopping by category, you can get just what you're looking for by selecting the size(s), color(s) and brand(s) you're shopping for.

Below, in alphabetical order, are my favorites when it comes to online thrift store shopping. Hopefully, they'll become your favorites as well.

atOncer - atOncer is a thrift store marketplace that connects shoppers and sellers worldwide. You'll discover auctions, eStores, fixed prices and bartering. There's a large selection of merchandise such as diapers, baby furniture, clothing, collectibles and much more! Save time by using atOncer's advanced search feature to narrow your selections.
atOncer - Online Thrift Store Shopping

The Attic - The Attic offers free shipping on all their merchandise. You can shop for men and women's accessories and apparel, watches and jewelry.
Attic Clothes - Online Thrift Store Shopping

Gone-Tomorrow - Unlike most online thrift stores, Gone-Tomorrow doesn't offer clothing. They do, however, have a nice selection of vintage items, antiques, games, toys, books, home decor, housewares, purses, shoes and other merchandise at very affordable prices. Furthermore, you can name your own price on select merchandise.
Gone Tomorrow - Online Thrift Store Shopping

Schoola - Whether you're doing back to school shopping or just need more clothing and accessories, Schoola is a great place for online thrift store shopping! They offer apparel, shoes and accessories for women, kids and babies. If you're really searching for some great bargains, everything in their Closeout Closet is priced at $3, and there are many name brand clothes to choose from.
Schoola - Online Thrift Store Shopping

If you've never placed an order with Schoola, save more with the discount code FIRST50OFF to receive 50% off your first order. You can maximize your savings at Schoola by stacking coupons during checkout. What this means is you can enter more than one coupon code in their cart, so if you come across any other Schoola discounts or offers, write down the coupon codes and use them along with the FIRST50OFF code for additional savings.

I've ordered from Schoola, and I was very pleased with the merchandise I received as well as the entire experience. The thing I love about shopping at School is knowing that 40% of my purchase will benefit schools.

Swap - Swap offers clothing and apparel accessories for men, women, kids and babies, toys, maternity apparel, video games and accessories, home decor, bedding and more. New customers will get FREE shipping on orders of $10 or more, and if you visit Swap from my link above (click the store's name), you'll get 20% off your first order.
Swap - Online Thrift Store Shopping

thredUP - Save on secondhand designer brands at thredUP. You can shop for clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, gloves, sunglasses and much more. Orders totaling $79 or more receive FREE shipping.
ThredUp - Online Thrift Store Shopping

Other Great Places to Shop for Secondhand Clothing, Furniture & More

The following resources are not online thrift stores, but they offer things you'd normally find in an online or local thrift store. This way of online thrift store shopping is more like an online rummage sale. You'll discover secondhand merchandise listed by locals.

When you see something you like, you can arrange to meet the seller and buy the item(s) you're interested in. Be sure to meet in a public area with lots of people around. If you have to go to the seller's home, don't go alone.

Facebook Marketplace - Facebook's Marketplace is a great place to look for secondhand clothing, used furniture, housewares, toys, home improvement items and much more. To get local results, enter your city and state, and then select how many miles you're willing to travel to purchase the item(s) you want.
Facebook Marketplace

Craigslist - Like Facebook Marketplace, you'll discover a variety of used merchandise at Craigslist. Just select locations near you from the list on the right. Then you can select the categories that interest you. To save time, once you've selected a category, if you know what you're looking for, you can search for that item in the category or categories you select.
Craigslist

Do you have a favorite online thrift store and/or other place that I didn't mention where you like to shop for used merchandise? Comment to let us know your favorite(s) and what you like about the online thrift store(s) and/or place(s).

Happy shopping and saving!

Thrift store photo courtesy of Flickr member, Brent Moore

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Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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Finding the Best Online Sales

Finding the Best Online Sales

Finding the Best Online Sales
In a previous article, I told you how to use comparison shopping sites to score the best online deals. Now that you found an online store through comparison shopping, your next step as a frugal shopper is to find the best online sales deal from the merchant you want to buy from.

The first thing you need to do is head to Dealspotr and login to your account there. If you're not familiar with Dealspotr and don't have an account, you can read all about them in a previous article I wrote: See How Easily You Can Save Money & Get Free Amazon Gift Cards Just for Sharing Deals. Go ahead and click the link to read that article before you continue on reading this one. Don't worry, the link will open in a new tab/window so that you don't lose your place here. 😉

Searching for the Best Online Sales at Dealspotr

Okay, now that you've read my article on Dealspotr and hopefully joined, let's continue on with how to use Dealspotr to find the best online sales from the merchant you want to buy from. First, make sure you have Dealspotr open in a new tab/window and that you're logged in to your account there. Done? Good. 🙂 Now, grab your notebook to jot down some more notes.

Enter the name of the merchant you're looking for in Dealspotr's search box. After you enter the merchant's name, a menu should drop down, and if that store is on Dealspotr, its name will appear in the drop down menu under stores. If the merchant is listed on Dealspotr, click on the store's name or logo (whichever appears) to view its current deals.

Finding the Best Online Sales at Dealspotr
In your notebook, write down the information for the best deals from that merchant. The information you'll need to write down is the promo code and discount information (e.g. 25%, free shipping, etc.). Be sure to check that the deal hasn't expired. If a deal is still there and it has expired, it will say expired.

Finding the Best Online Sales at Dealspotr

Boost Your Savings With Cashback Shopping

Now that you have a list of the best online sales deals, you can boost your savings by joining cashback shopping sites. It's free to join the sites, and as a member, you'll earn a percentage of your total purchase from online merchants back.

To ensure you get the most savings, be sure you check out all the cashback shopping sites you're a member of. You'll be looking for the cashback site that offers the most money back for the merchant you want to buy from. For instance, one site may offer 3.4% cashback when you shop with Walmart while the other site offers 6% cashback for shopping with Walmart from their site. Obviously, you'll want to go with the cashback site that offers 6% back.

Since you have to use the link from the cashback site to get the cashback savings from the merchant you're buying from, you may be wondering what the purpose of the note taking was for? It's simple, you'll use the coupon code for the deal you discovered at Dealspotr to save even more. Make sure you use the coupon code for the deal that offers you the biggest savings. 😉

Before you make your purchase, browse the cashback site you're making the purchase from to see if they list a better offer than you already have. If they do, you'll want to take advantage of their offer instead. If that's the case, most of the time you'll just click the link they've provided to get that bigger discount. By clicking that link from their site, you'll still receive the cashback as well.

Suggested Cashback Shopping Sites

If you're familiar with cashback shopping, you may already be a member of some cashback shopping websites. Whether you're a member or not, here are a few of my favorites, which, of course, you may want to consider joining: Be Frugal, eBates, Extrabux, Memolink, Mr. Rebates, My Points and Swagbucks.

Happy shopping and saving!

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Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

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Reel in a Deal - Advice for Frugal Shoppers

What Frugal Shoppers Ought to Know About Shopping Online

Reel in a Deal - Advice for Frugal Shoppers
The majority of my frugal shopping adventures take place online. I love not having to fight crowds and wait in a long line to pay for my merchandise. But do you know what I love most about shopping via the internet? The deals! Yes, folks, there really are many great sales in the cyber marketplace for the frugal shopper! In fact, many times I've discovered that I save more money shopping online than I do shopping at brick and mortar stores in Southern Illinois.

Back when the internet was still new, shipping prices were inflated so much that most of the time it was still cheaper to shop offline. Nowadays, though, shipping and return policies are more consumer friendly, and when I factor in the high price of gas to drive into town, I discover I usually get better bargains shopping online.

Shopping online for deals will take time to get the best bargains, but the time that you'll spend researching to find the best online deals will be worth it.

How a Frugal Shopper Scores the Best Online Deals

When shopping online for the best deals, you'll want to compare prices. Thankfully, you don't have to spend hours comparing prices yourself, because price comparison sites have done it for you. However, it will take a little time to examine the price comparison websites to find the merchandise you're looking for at the lowest price. Once you get use to the sites' layouts, though, it won't take as long next time you decide to go on a shopping spree.

Some of my favorite sites for comparing prices are Google Shopping, Price Grabber, Epinions and Yahoo Shopping.

As I get ready to compare prices, I ensure I have a notebook and pen handy to write down the name of the merchandise I plan to buy. Next, I explore each of the sites, and when I come across the product I'm interested in, I see which merchant sells that item for the lowest price. Finally, I write down the name of the merchant with the lowest price. I also write down the price that online store sells the product for, because later I'll search for current deals from that merchant.

Confused? Here's an example, which I hope makes it easier for you to understand… Let's say I'm looking to buy a Nintendo Wii U 32 GB Deluxe Game Console. First, I head to Google Shopping and type "Nintendo Wii U" (with quotes) into the search box at the top of their page. After clicking to search, I see what I'm looking for, so I click the "compare prices" button. Now I scroll to the bottom of the store listings and see there are 40 stores with this product, so I click "view all 40 online stores."

Upon viewing all the stores, I see (at the time of this writing) Walmart has the cheapest price at $299.96 (with free shipping, if you have it shipped to your local Walmart).

Although Google Shopping shows that Walmart has the lowest price, I want to check with the other comparison sites to see if they list different online stores with an even lower price (including shipping). That being said, I open a new tab and head to Price Grabber. I do the same at Price Grabber as I did at Google Shopping. Walmart still has the lowest price (including shipping), so I'll continue doing the same aforementioned steps with each comparison shopping site.

Once I finished looking at all four of my favorite comparison shopping sites, I discovered Walmart had the lowest price. So, being the frugal shopper that I am, here's what I wrote in my notebook: "Nintendo Wii 32 GB Deluxe Game Console, Walmart, $299.96 with free shipping if I have it shipped to my local Walmart store."

Now that you know the online retailer you want to buy from head over and read my tips on how a frugal shopper goes about finding the best sales.

Subscribe to the Living Frugally Newsletter for Updates & More!

Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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Get coupons by snail mail

How to Get Coupons by Snail Mail

Snail Mail Coupons

These days, there are tons of free printable and digital coupons for you to print and load onto your savings cards. Being the frugal shopper that you are, though, you want to enjoy additional savings, right? Furthermore, what if you don't have a printer to print coupons? No problem, you don't have to print snail mail coupons, because they come to you via postal mail. Now that's something worth going to your mailbox for! 😉

Even if you do get coupons online and have a printer, getting snail mail coupons will be a bonus. Naturally, you'll have to put forth some effort by requesting the snail mail coupons. However, it's not a lot of effort. Just a minute or two to fill out a quick form or send an email is all.

Companies That Offer Snail Mail Coupons to Help You Save Money on Their Products

RedPlum: Sometimes you'll find RedPlum inserts in your Sunday newspapers, but if you don't buy the Sunday papers or you'd like additional RedPlum coupons, you can sign up for The Red Plum Mail package. Be sure you select "add to list."

Bounce: When Bounce has coupons available by snail mail, you'll find the link on their "promotions" page.

P&G Brand Sampler: You have to register to get P&G's free Home Made Simple coupon booklet. As a P&G Everyday Solutions member myself, I can honestly tell you that taking the time to register is well worth it. They send quite a few snail mail coupons with great savings offers!

Minute Maid Snail Mail Coupons: Residents from the United States and Canada can enter their details in the form on the linked page to request money-saving coupons from Minute Maid.

Tide: When Tide has snail mail coupons available, they reveal them on their "coupons" page.

Another Way to Obtain Snail Mail Coupons

If there are certain brands that you love and buy often but don't see them in the aforementioned list, search for the brand name or manufacturer's name on your favorite search engine to see if they have a website. If your search is successful, visit their site and look for their contact form or information. Then reach out to them and ask if they could mail you some of their coupons. Before asking for the snail mail coupons, let them know that you've tried and liked their products and usually buy them often.

Maybe you're familiar with a brand but have yet to try it. No problem, you can search for those brands as well. Then when you contact the company asking for snail mail coupons, let them know you'd like to try their product(s).

In addition to products, you can search for and contact restaurants as well. You'd be surprised how many companies will offer you coupons to get (or keep) you as their customer.

If you know of any other websites where frugal shoppers can sign up/register to get coupons by snail mail, let me know by leaving a comment. Additionally, maybe you offer a product or service. If so, and you're willing to send snail mail coupons for a chance to get new customers or clients, contact me with the information on how frugal shoppers can request to receive paper coupons from you via the postal mail service. After you reach out to me and I get all the information I need, I'll include your company in this resource list free of charge.

Photo credit: BellaArt from Flickr.com

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Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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Frugal Coupon Mom

Tips From a Frugal Coupon Mom, Wife and Caregiver

Frugal Coupon Mom

Photo courtesy of Kelly Schykulski

With gas and grocery prices on the rise, several of us are struggling financially. So what do we do to ensure we don't lose our homes and our family doesn't starve? Many have turned to couponing, gardening, canning and other frugal ways to save money.

If I recall right, it was back in 1998 when I first started using coupons. At that time, I was a recently divorced mom escaping domestic violence, and I had three young children to care for. Gas and grocery prices weren't nearly as high back then, but being a single mom, earning a little above minimum wage ($5.15 per hour) working as a CNA (certified nurse's assistant) was not easy in those days either. Since things were just as hard in 98, I started couponing to save as much money as I possibly could.

During the beginning of my couponing days, I didn't know near as much about using coupons as I do now. In fact, I rarely saved money and often wondered if clipping coupons was worth my time and effort. Given that I thought the coupons failed in saving me money, I felt my time was better spent focusing on caring for the kids and working, so I stopped clipping coupons. Only if I knew then what I know now.

Anyway, life continued, I re-married in June 2004, and with the Lord's help, I managed just fine without the coupons. Then in 2008, my household size increased to seven (including myself). On top of that, the cost of gas and groceries started to go up, and with only two incomes and a house full of seven people, I made it a point to learn how to use coupons to get the most savings. In addition to couponing, I learned many other ways of living frugally, and throughout this website, I'll be sharing all the information I've gained knowledge of and will continue to absorb. Let's begin with a few couponing tips.

6 Couponing Tips From a Frugal Coupon Mom

1. Compare the price of the name brand product with the price of the store brand item. Sometimes you'll discover that even after the discount the coupon offers, the store brand will still cost less. I'll discuss this in more detail within a future article.

2. The buy X and get Y for however much off won't really save you much money unless you plan to buy X and Y anyway.

3. Only buy what you need. Don't buy extra just because there's a good coupon for the product or it's on sale.

4. Gather all the sales papers from your local stores to see what's on sale. Make a list of the sale items you might use, and then see if there are coupons for those items. Browse through your coupon binder as well as the printable coupon databases online. Then create your grocery list based on the information you gather. Also, buy the product from the merchant who offers the cheapest price for the same product, and refer back to my first tip as you prepare for your shopping trip. To do this, it's best to have a pricelist of the store brand products you use the most from each of your favorite stores.

5. Enjoy greater savings by using a manufacturer coupon in combination with the store's coupon on a sale item.

6. Ask your favorite stores when their double coupon days are, make note of them on your calendar, and then shop on those days.

While these are only a few tips from a frugal coupon mom (me), I hope the advice I shared will help you understand how couponing really can save you money. I only wish I knew all this back in 1998, but there were less mouths to feed than now, so at least I'm armed with this knowledge when I need it the most. 😉

If you know of any other couponing tips, comment and share what you know to help others who are trying to save as much money as they can. Pay it forward, and I'm sure you'll be blessed for sharing your expertise.

Subscribe to the Living Frugally Newsletter for Updates & More!

Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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