Better ways to save at the grocery store

December 14, 2012

Cutting costs in the checkout line has always been a struggle for single parents. When buying store brands and finding the cheapest options in the meat case aren't enough to slash the bottom line, seeking financial aid for moms may shift out of the scope of school funding and refocus on food stamps and public pantries. On the other hand, there are ways of keeping up with shopping trips that require a bit more effort but possibly a lot more payoff.

Couponing has become a craze in the United States, with television shows, websites and magazines dedicated to the discussion of how best to use these vouchers. Like any other monetary system, there are smart ways and better methods of using these instruments, and knowing some of the secrets can save single moms a lot more money.

Take what you needOne of the biggest pitfalls is buying items that won't be useful, filling cabinet space with products that will probably just be thrown away later. Practical things like paper towels, toilet paper and general purpose cleaners make strong candidates for couponers, as these will always be in short supply in homes with small children. A good rule of thumb is to store no more than a year's worth of a single resource, as it will start to become excessive after that point. A need for extra cabinet or closet space may also require throwing away useful items, so single moms need to be strategic with their storage methods.

Mind the expiration
Just like with college scholarship applications, food will expire if it's not used, making it a useless investment. Canned items stay longer on the shelf, but even these will eventually go bad. Paying attention to the labels and rotating personal inventory can help keep track of stocks at home and ensure that things get used before they take a turn for the worse.

The longevity of these products should also affect how much you want and need to buy. If a coupon offers a few dollars off a large number of yogurts, for instance, that may not be a worthwhile voucher, unless you've got a whole lot of yogurt-lovers in the house.

Watch for sales
Combining coupons with in-store sales will see the best price savings. Watching online and in-store flyers for promotions can give single moms a leg up in reducing grocery bills. Just be sure that a coupon doesn't expire while waiting for a special price, and if it does, don't get caught at the register with products at full price.

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