1) The Grocery Game! Do you know this website? It helps you use your coupons strategically based on what coupons you should have in your file as well as what is on sale where you shop. It does cost somewhere in the range of $10 every 8 weeks, but I have saved so much money as a result of this system that it pays for itself. That said, I think that you could temporarily enroll as a sort of "boot camp" for how to save money with coupons, then do your own research each week using store circulars.
2) Order groceries online. I started doing this when I was real prego with LB, and I physically couldn't shop with a toddler anymore. There has to be a grocery store near you who has this option. I order my groceries online and they bring them out to my car for me at my pickup time. The charge for this service is $4.95 at Harris Teeter, but I probably only pay that fee about half the time due to all their promotions. The real reason this saves money is because it curbs impulse buying. Until I started doing this, I had no idea how much I threw in my cart on a whim. And, because you can see what you are spending before you click "buy," you can also decide what is a priority for you that week, and take that bottle of wine right out of your virtual cart.
3) Get someone to give you their Kohl's cash. Okay, so people who shop at Kohl's know that they give "Kohl's cash" to their credit card customers. These are like gift certificates that are good for a week at a time. My awesome mom has the Kohl's credit card, gets the "cash," and gives it to me. Here's an example of the kind of stuff you can do when you combine Kohl's cash with a sale:
I bought a decorative hourglass on clearance. It was originally $34.99 and I paid $6. Plus I got some chocolate because I am a sucker. I gave them the Kohl's cash, and they gave me the merchandise for free. I don't have store credit cards, but if I did it would be this one. Their incentives are awesome.
4) Enroll in customer appreciation programs. I do Upromise for college savings for my kids, My Coke Rewards, and stores like World Market and DSW. I am a preferred customer at Sherwin-Williams and never buy paint there without a coupon. I only do these if they don't take up too much time or real estate in my in-box. For example, Huggies has an online rewards program which I did long enough to get some free diapers and wipes, but each code entered online required like 8 steps...not worth it. But other programs totally are...if they are free I try them and see if they work for me. Then I get free stuff with points or buy stuff in the stores using the incentives I get for enrolling. At DSW I received a $10 coupon for enrolling (which was free) and another $10 for spending some money. Then I went and bought 2 pairs of shoes on clearance and here was my receipt:
That's right--I spent $10.72 for two pairs of shoes and saved $105.05. I got one pair of cute shoes and one pair of super-comfy Mommy shoes:
|Does everyone hate how their own foot looks? These shoes are cuter in person, by the way.|
Not so orthodic-y.
5) Make a budget. I know, everyone and your mother says this, but it is so true for me. When I track what I'm spending by saving receipts and adding it all up at the end of the month, I see real clearly where that money goes, and can figure out how to save more of it. And once I stopped paying full price for most things, I found it became easier to stay the heck out of the mall and stick to that budget.
How about you? What's your best tip for saving money?