With costs of everyday items creeping up, you have to be increasingly vigilant on how your spend your dollars. Here are my Do's and Don'ts of smart shopping:
Don't allow the "what's-for-dinner" issue creep up on you. Lack of menu planning means hitting the grocery in the late afternoon or early evening, when you're tired and hungry. This is a sure way to spend more and lose out on sales.
Don't forget to share unused coupons with others.
Don't forget the Internet. Use great sites such as coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com. Printing coupons from your home computer is safe, free and easy.
Don't forget to subscribe to your local newspaper, which is still the best place to find coupons.
Do cook according to what's on sale. Use the weekly grocery insert to focus on your weekly menu. Focus on proteins and produce that are on sale.
Do visit multiple stores to take advantage of sales and pricing differentials.
Do use coupons when a product is on sale and stock up when the item is cheaper or free.
Do get organized. Organize by category and then organize your file or notebook by the way you typically walk your most visited store. This will save you time and money.
Do wait until an item goes on sale or the store runs a promotion. When you feel the price of the item is at its rock bottom, add a coupon and get an even better deal.
Do learn how to stack. Stacking is when you use a manufacturer's and store coupon on the same item. This practice is most cost effective at Target. Before shopping at Target, visit its website and print any Target store coupons for items you may need. Match that Target store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon to save even more!
Do know your store. Be sure you understand the policies, promotions and reward systems.
Do know the lingo:
$1/1, $2/1: Means $1 off one product, $2 off one product.
BOGO, B1G1 : Buy one, get one.
Blinkie: Manufacturers' coupons dispensed by coupon machines found in grocery aisles next to products. Even if that item is not on sale that week, keep it for later.
Catalina: Sometimes abbreviated as "CAT," Catalina coupon machines dispense coupons at the register.
MIR: Mail in Rebate, a way to earn money after you spend it. Use mail-in-rebate-forms.blogspot.com/ as a great reference for all kinds of MIRs.
Rain check: This slip of paper allows shoppers to get an item at the sale price if it is out of inventory.
Tear pad: A pad of manufacturers' coupons found near products on shopping aisles. These coupons may be used at any store, not just the one where you found the coupon.
WYB: When you buy. Very often you see this abbreviation when shoppers are required to buy certain items to earn a discount or reward.