How to get $100 worth of groceries for 25 cents

Coupon Mom reveals her top five tips to cut your grocery bill in half


Cutting costs with coupons
March 6: TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe finds out how to save big at the grocery store; TODAY’s Ann Curry talks to Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson about using coupons to cut your costs.

Today show

Special feature

10 tips to be a better coupon sleuth
Want to save now? 10 Tips columnist Laura T. Coffey offers advice to help you upgrade your electronic and paper coupon skills.

By Stephanie Nelson
updated 2:32 p.m. CT, Wed., March. 4, 2009//

You can cut your grocery bill in half when you know how to use coupons and store promotions along with sale prices on your favorite items. For a family of four, that may be a savings of $100 per week, or as much as $5,000 per year. Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson demonstrated how to combine sales, store promotions and double coupons and paid only 25 cents for $100 worth of common grocery items. Stephanie’s top tips to save are:

1. Plan your shopping trip before you leave home

  • Use the store’s sales circular and look for featured main dish sale items, such as chicken at 50% off. Plan a few meals for the week around sale items and buy extra for the freezer to avoid paying full price next week.
  • Have a complete list for everything you need for the week’s meals to avoid costly, unplanned trips to the store mid-week. Even if you take an hour to plan your meals, make your list and cut coupons, you’ll end up saving time overall by avoiding extra trips that blow your budget.
  • Be “store-flexible.” You don’t need to go to more than one store per week to save, but you should review the advertising circulars for a few nearby stores and shop at the store with the best prices for your items each week.

2. Let other people do the hard work for you

  • Find a Web site that lists the best deals and coupon bargains for your store each week. You’ll save an hour or more taking advantage of someone else’s research.
  • lists the best grocery deals at thousands of grocery and drugstores nationally. Select and print the deals you like for your store in a few minutes.
  • You can also go to Google and type in the name of your store and the term “deals” to find local Web sites that may list deals for your store.

3. Maximize your coupon savings easily with the ‘no clip’ system

  • 80% of grocery coupons come from the Sunday newspaper coupon circulars, so to save the most you need an easy way to manage them.
  • Use the “no clip” system to save an hour a week: Save the newspaper circulars, write that day’s date on the front and keep them in a plastic shoe box or file. Save the entire circular instead of cutting out a few coupons and throwing the rest away because you never know which items will go on sale in future weeks.
  • When you select and print your deals list from Web sites, each deal will reference the date its coupon came out. Cut out only the coupons you need for each trip, rather than cutting out and organizing all the coupons every week.
  • Buy 2-3 copies of the Sunday paper to increase your savings during weeks that the circulars have many coupons you would use.
  • Also print coupons and use electronic coupons.

4. Time it right — wait until the item goes on sale to use the coupon

  • If you use the coupon on a full-price item, you may end up paying half price. But if you wait and use your coupon when the item goes on sale for half price, you may end up getting it free. Many “coupon items” do not hit their lowest sale price until a few weeks after the coupon came out.

  • In the taped piece, many of the coupon deals used coupons that came out a full month ago. Had we used them a month ago on these items, we would have paid a lot more than 25 cents for our $100 cart of groceries.

5. Know how your store’s promotion and coupon policies work

  • If your store has a loyalty card, sign up. Be sure to provide your complete mailing address because you may receive personalized coupons for items you purchase.
  • Pay attention to special promotions and combine them with coupons. Check the store’s sales circular for promotions such as “Buy 10 participating frozen items and get $5 off your order.” Use coupons on promotion items to really save.
  • Find out how your stores’ coupon policies work. Do they double coupons? Up to what amount? Is there a limit on the number of coupons that can be used per order?
  • Does your store have its own coupons and if so, where can you find them?

For more money-saving tips and gift ideas, visit


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