Beyond the Supermarket
Start stocking up. If you know that toilet paper is going on sale and prices won't be as low for twelve weeks, buy enough to get your family through the sale cycle. "Shop ahead of your needs, and you'll never run out of anything," Cataldo says. Even perishable items like meat can be stored in the freezer for long periods of time. If your family eats chicken twice a week and chicken goes on sale every two weeks, why not buy four at a time?
Coupons aren't just for groceries. You can save on your family's essential drugstore items as you can on groceries. Drugstores publish store coupons both online and in the newspaper, sometimes offering bigger savings on items like cosmetics or hair-care products than your local supermarket does. Combine those store coupons with manufacturer's coupons and loyalty card rewards for the best deals on drugstore items. Erin Klones, mom of two and author of the blog Simply Frugal Mom, suggests using rewards programs at drugstores like Walgreens and Rite-Aid. "With their rewards cards you get a dollar back to use toward your next purchase, and you can use that for almost any drugstore item," she says.
Get smart about group-deal sites. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial promise big savings on restaurants, vacations and events. But as with grocery items, don't "add to cart" unless it's a coupon you need. If the coupon is for something you or your family does regularly, like a visit to the bowling alley or enjoy a meal at your favorite local restaurant, go for it. But don't book an expensive spa day every time Groupon offers a great deal.
Think outside the rack. "At national chains like Aeropostale and Old Navy, if you don't see a clearance item on the rack in your size, you can ask a salesperson to ship it to you in your size (or your kid's size) from another store for the same price," says Ellie Kay, mother of five and author of Living Rich for Less.