The average family of four spends about $180 a week on groceries. This can take a big chunk out of the monthly budget before paying other bills.
I would love to say that using coupons can save you big money, but now that most stores are not doubling coupons and there's a smaller timeline on when the coupons expire, it is getting harder to save money that way.
Here's a short course on changing some of your shopping habits whether you use coupons or not.
• Plan your weekly meals according to what's on sale. Check the flyers in the Sunday paper plus match the sales with your coupons.
• Don't be loyal to just one store. Store managers will put different items on sale even in the grocery store by the same name. I am not suggesting you use lots of gas to travel all over, but when you are doing some of your other errands, stop by another store in that area.
• Be organized. Always have your coupons with you. Clipping coupons will take time, but do it while you are watching TV or even bring them with you when you are watching your child's baseball game. Purchase a coupon holder to categorize your coupons, making it easier to find them when you are in the store.
• When items are on sale, start a stockpile which will make it unnecessary to purchase items when they are not on sale.
• Where can you find coupons?
Newspaper coupons appear on Sundays except on holiday weekends. Check out the paper and if you find some great coupons, think about buying another paper.
Printable coupons are available on coupons.com, and they change weekly. You are allowed to print two coupons per computer. Some Facebook sites offer coupons and often they are high value because manufacturers really want you to try their product. Always check the websites of the stores in your area. Dollar General, Target, CVS, Rite Aid and Kroger often offer coupons. And remember that many stores accept a store coupon plus a manufacturer coupon for one item.
Mobile coupons are available with programs and apps like Ibotta, Checkout51, Cartwheel and Shopmium. Download these coupons to your phone and redeem cash back savings after you've purchased a product.
eCoupons are coupons that are loaded on store loyalty cards or phones. Several stores like Kroger, Meijer, CVS and Rite Aid have these coupons, but you can't use a paper coupon with a digital coupon.
At Target you can text a code to get additional coupons loaded to your phone to scan at checkout. Text the word COUPONS to 827438 to join Target's mobile program.
Catalinas are coupons that are printed at the register at participating stores when you purchase select participating items.
Peelies are the coupons that you find on the product packaging. Blinkies are Smart Source coupons found in the electronic coupon dispenser located on the store shelf. If you pay close attention, you will probably notice that many times items will not be on sale when there is a blinkie coupon. A smart couponer will use this coupon when the item goes on sale.
• Kroger just lowered many of their prices. If you shop mostly at Wal-Mart, use its new Saving Catcher website which compares advertised prices and if there is a lower price at another store they will give you the difference with a Wal-Mart eGift Card.
• Attend the Savings 101 club at Fayette County Extension service on 1140 Red Mile Place at 6:30 on Aug. 4 to learn how to save and ask the club questions you have on savings in all aspects of your life. Email Dianna Doggett with any questions.
• Sign up to have a Mambo Sprouts Coupon Booklet sent to your home.
• Staples just announced their 110 percent price match guarantee on back-to-school products. If you purchase an item that is sold by Amazon or any retailer that sells in retail stores and online under the same brand, Staples will match the lower price and give an additional 10 percent off the difference between the prices.
• Through July 23, text JEANS to 32453 to enter the AEO 2014 Denim Try On Event. You will receive 20 percent off your next purchase at American Eagle Outfitters.
• Purchase $15 worth of Quaker products in a single transaction at Wal-Mart through Sept. 30. Snap a photo of your receipt and send it by text message or email to email@example.com by Sept. 30 to receive a $5 Wal-Mart gift card.
• Purchase one movie ticket at participating theaters through Fandago using your VISA Signature card to receive another movie ticket free. Expires Aug. 8.
• Join Thomas and Friends reward program and receive 150 points for joining. Purchase select featured products, each with a point value, redeemable for rewards.
• Text: LB6966 to 23705 to get a Lane Bryant mobile coupon for $10 off your $10+ purchase. Valid through July 26 in-store only.
• Print coupon for 50 percent off full price items at The Limited.
• For a limited time, buy five 12-packs of Dr. Pepper and receive a $10 e-Wal-Mart gift card.
• Learn about what it takes to deliver clean water to your tap at WaterFest sponsored by Kentucky American Water. Stop by between 4:30-7:30 p.m., Aug. 7 at 2300 Richmond Road.
• Free health screenings are available at Sam's Club Pharmacy on the second Saturday of the month. You do not need to be a member to attend. Held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 9, screening includes blood pressure, take-home DNA kit, child safety kit, body fat percentage and vision screening testing.
• Free online Cooking Light class on Creative Ways with Whole Grains.
• Reserve your spot for free cooking technique classes at Williams-Sonoma at Fayette Mall, 3473 Nicholasville Road. Call (859) 272-5856 for registration. The classes: From the garden with Tim Farmer (host of Kentucky Afield and Tim Farmer's Country Kitchen), July 20 at 11 a.m.; Tempura frying, July 20 at 3 p.m.; Junior chef's shakes, July 26 at 10 a.m.; Vitamix's 30 exotic shakes, July 26 at 3 p.m.; We love tomatoes, July 27 at 11 a.m.; and Sushi, July 27 at 3 p.m.
Deborah Morris' weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get through these economic hard times a little more easily. If you know of a way to save some money, feel free to share it on The Fru-Gal blog on BluegrassMoms.com and visit her Web site, Fru-gal-friends.com.