Cool Ideas

Grocery Store Savings Secrets

by Stephanie Nelson

Most shoppers do not realize the many savings strategies available to them in their own grocery stores. Most people are too busy to take the time to plan and organize their shopping lists, and are simply happy if they find time to get to the store at all! However, Strategic Shoppers get a thrill out of the intellectual challenge of finding clever ways to figure out their stores' savings programs and learn how to use them to their savings advantage. Although it can be a fun game to learn how to be a Strategic Shopper, you will still end up with serious savings if you know what to look for at your stores. Therefore, it pays to learn how your store's policies and savings programs work.

Shoppers should know the answers to these questions to uncover their stores' savings secrets. If you do not know the answers to these questions for your own store, simply ask your store personnel and you will be on your way to big savings!

  1. When items' prices are listed in terms of multiple item purchases, are shoppers required to buy a minimum number of items in order to pay the lower price? Many stores promote a sale price in terms of multiple quantity purchases, such as "20 for $10" which seems to suggest that the shopper needs to buy twenty items. The store's ad may even say "mix and match" at the top of a page with several items listed at "20 for $10." However, in most cases, each item is priced individually (such as 50 cents each) and shoppers do not need to buy 20 items to get the low sale price. In rare cases, a store may require that shoppers buy 20 items in order to get the 50- cent price. If your store does require a minimum purchase, you can expect to see a notation in the ad on on the store shelf explaining the purchase requirement. Although stocking up at a low price may make sense, buying too much of a perishable item could result in wasting money.

  2. When items are promoted as "Buy One, Get One Free," are shoppers required to buy two items in order to realize the savings, or is each item charged half price? If the store charges half price for each "Buy One, Get One Free" item, that means you only have to buy one item to realize the savings. If you have a coupon for that item, you will pay even less by only having to buy one of the sale items (as compared to dividing the coupon savings across two items). If your store doubles coupons, you may even get that item free! Having more than one coupon for that item will allow you to buy more than one of the half price items to stock up at a very low price.

  3. Does your store match competitors' prices? Many stores, such as Walmart, have a clear price matching policy, which means they are willing to match other stores' advertised prices if you prove that the other store's price is lower with their advertising circular. Price matching can save you the time and gas expense of having to go to several stores to get the best sale prices at more than one store. You can scan the advertising circulars in your newspaper to find the lowest price for the items you need, or you can go online to and compare prices online. makes searching for your item easy, which saves time as compared to leafing through several circulars. Once you find a lower price, simply print that item's page from the website or take the circular from the paper to the price-matching store. Have your store match the competing store's price and pay as little as possible for your favorite items!

  4. Does your store match competitors' coupons? Some grocery stores and pharmacies will accept other stores' coupons. Many drugstore chains like Walgreens, Eckerd, and Rite Aid have their own store coupons in their weekly advertising circular. You will not have to make an extra trip to the drugstore in order to save on a few of their deals if your own grocery store will match the drugstore's coupon price. Drugstores frequently offer attractive coupons for health and personal care items, so it can be worth the time to check their circulars and see if your regular grocery store will honor their price. If not, it may be worth making a trip to a nearby drugstore to save the most money on those items.

Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News' Good Morning America. You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and on her website at Copyright 2006 Stephanie Nelson.