Are you living the retired life comfortably? That is, financially? It’s no secret that the current economic state in the US is…rough. Gas prices are still up and inflation is, well…inflating. We could easily give you the “live within your means” and “cook your dinners at home” speech – but, we’re not going to do that. Today’s retirees need realistic solutions that can help right now. So, if you’re horrified by the prices every time you go to the grocery store, then this list is for you. Here are 10 thrifty tips for saving money on groceries.
1. Don’t shop for groceries online.
It’s easy and convenient. We get it. But trust us when we say, you’re not always going to get the most bang for your buck this way. Admittedly, there are many grocery store chains out there that don’t up their online prices or charge for delivery. So, really, if you’re considering using online services from your local stores, just do your homework first. But, if you’re thinking about using services like Instacart, be aware that convenience charges may apply. If you get groceries from Amazon, you should know that many of their products are fulfilled by third-party sellers. That could mean shipping costs, even if you’re a Prime subscriber.
2. Use manufacturer and store coupons.
Right now, you’re probably saying to yourself, no duh! because coupon use has been a long-established time-honored tradition for frugal spenders for well over 100 years (yes, seriously!). But, here’s a little secret you might not know about coupons: many stores will let you stack manufacturer and store coupons! What does that mean? Say you have a coupon you clipped in the Sunday paper for $1 off laundry detergent. That’s a manufacturer coupon. You also have a $1 off coupon for the same product that you received directly from the supermarket in either a mailed promotion or an ad of some sort. That’s a store coupon. Most stores will allow you to use BOTH coupons in one transaction, giving you a total of $2 off that laundry detergent (unless otherwise specified in the store’s coupon policy).
PRO TIP: Manufacturer and store coupons will clearly state somewhere in the fine print which type of coupon they are! You can NOT use more than one identical manufacturer or store coupon on the same item.
3. Follow your favorite brands on social media and email.
It feels kind of silly to actually give the advice, “make sure you follow Wonder Bread on Facebook!” I mean, how interesting can bread be? But, you really should! Most brands offer exclusive deals and promotions through social media and email. Some will even send you coupons you can’t get anywhere else just for simply signing up for their newsletter. Worried about getting spam? Well, can you really call it spam if you’re a loyal user of the product and they send you deals you actually want? If you don’t want your inbox spammed, simply don’t sign up for anything unless it’s something you truly use often.
4. Buy generic and store-brand products.
Here’s another secret you might not know: many generic and store-brand products are exactly the same as big brand names. Don’t believe us? Compare ingredients next time you’re in the supermarket. Store brand products don’t usually have to flip the bill for national marketing the way big brands like Tide or Sara Lee do. Therefore, stores are able to create essentially the same product and charge much less.
5. Shop at more than one store.
This might not always be the quickest or easiest route, but it can be the most thrifty. Most grocery stores offer sales that change from week to week. The trick to saving on the products that you buy most may simply be a matter of getting your hands on some weekly ads and shopping the sales.
6. Use Ibotta.
Ibotta is a rebate app that turns your receipts into cash. Simply download the app, select the store you’ll be shopping at, and then the rebates on the products you’ll be buying. Rebates range from 25 cents all the way up to $10. You can even earn bonuses worth even more. The app keeps track of how much cash you earn until you’re ready to collect. They’ll send you the money via PayPal or as a gift card.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve earned as much as $50 back from ONE shopping trip using this app!
7. Get a wholesale membership.
If you use a lot of something, why not buy it in bulk? Buying anything in bulk is usually (but, not always!) cheaper. Manufacturers are able to cut their costs significantly when packaging a whole lot of something into one, not to mention, they pay less for materials and ingredients when they buy in bulk themselves. Subsequently, big box stores like BJ’s and Costco are able to give you significant deals on bulk items. Of course, be aware that most stores like this charge an annual membership fee. But, the yearly savings on products may very well outweigh that fee if you utilize it often enough.
8. Make a list.
This may seem a bit elementary, but we all forget to do this often enough that it’s definitely worth mentioning. Make a list before you go grocery shopping. Know exactly what you need and at which store you can get it for the best price. And, stick to that list. Making and sticking to your shopping list will keep you on budget every time.
PRO TIP: If you’re able to, shop alone. Having a shopping partner can be fun, but often, they make suggestions that will lead to ditching the list and impulse buying, thus spending more money.
9. Check the price per unit.
Knowing the price per unit can save you way more money than you may realize. To adequately demonstrate the usefulness, let’s do some math:
A box of 72 Starbucks K-Cup Pods at BJ’s is $41.99.
A box of 10 Starbucks Coffee K-Cup Pods at Kroger is $8.99.
$8.99 is clearly less money upfront. But, when you calculate the price per unit, you’ll find something much different.
This means, at BJ’s, a single K-cup costs 58 cents and at Kroger, it costs 89 cents per unit for the same exact brand (you should also see the connection here to the argument for buying in bulk).
10. Extreme coupon.
Clipping a couple of Sunday coupons is not the same as extreme couponing. Extreme couponing is also not for those who don’t have a little time to spare. OK, a lot of time. The ideas behind extreme couponing are super simple, but it takes a lot of preparation and practice to get as good as those people you see on TV scoring free groceries. Here are the simplest ways to get started:
First, you’ll need to buy the Sunday newspaper – in bulk. Start with 5 issues, then gradually buy more as you get better.
Second, download Ibotta, or another rebate app (there are several).
Next, begin hunting for sales.
Those are your three foundational points to extreme couponing.
Now, let’s talk about how to stack these elements to equal amazing deals.
Say your local grocery store has a sale on laundry detergent (we like good-smelling clothes, OK?). A bottle of Gain costs $6.99. The sale is “buy one, get one Gain detergent.” The Sunday paper included manufacturer coupons for “75 cents off one Gain detergent.” You bought multiple papers, so you actually have two of those! Oh, and the supermarket you’ve chosen doubles coupons (many still do!). Here’s how your deal would work:
Two Gain laundry detergents at $6.99 each= $13.98
The sale is buy one, get one= $6.99
You can use two of your $0.75 coupons, because you’re getting two products. And, your grocery store doubles the coupons because that’s in their policy. So, your two coupons are actually worth $1.50 each.
You just paid $3.99 out-of-pocket for two bottles of laundry detergent.
Now, say your rebate app is giving you $1 back per unit.
Now you’ve spent only $1.99. That’s a total savings of $11.99!
See where we’re going with this?
It’s completely worth mentioning again that this takes lots of practice, deal-hunting, and patience. You also have to know each store’s coupon policy when walking through the door.
More Thrifty Tips
If you’re looking for more thrifty tips, then check out these articles:
- 10 Thrifty Travel Hacks for Retirees
- 10 Thrifty Tips for Living Alone After 60
- 5 Thrifty Tips For Inexpensive Retirement Living