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Tame your grocery bills

New ways to spend less and get more

ShopSmart: September 2012

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We spend more on groceries than any other household expense, and it’s no wonder—we gotta eat, after all! I’m kind of a freak when it comes to bargain shopping at the supermarket. I hate to buy anything that isn’t on sale and/or doesn’t have a coupon. That even goes for produce: That’s where I start, scoping out the deals and planning menus in my head as I go. Big bonus: The marked-down produce is usually in season, which means it’s likely to be fresh (and maybe even local). But my old-school strategies only get me so far. To really get that grocery bill down, you want to take advantage of new tools too, like these three awesome apps:

Grocery IQ helps you create shopping lists and sends you coupons for the items on it.

Make Change, Not Waste motivates you to start up some earth-healthy habits, like biking to work and switching to paperless billing, then rewards you for coupons you can use at Whole Foods.

Pushpins shoots you digital coupons and notifies you when they’re about to expire.

And these three sites will help you pay less for everyday basics:

CouponBlender.com is ideal if you have no time to check every single coupon site and blog each week and are afraid you’re missing out. This site will be your new BFF. It features constantly updated feeds for dozens of sites, such as FatWallet.com and CouponCabin.com. Sign up for free e-mail alerts to get the top coupons in your inbox each weekend, culled from 100 sites around the Internet, plus exclusive subscriber-only deals.

Shortcuts.com brings together multiple methods of saving in one easy-to-use website. Say you need shrimp, grits, and red peppers to prepare a Sunday special brunch. Type them into the search bar and instantly see where they’re cheapest. Then select from the automatically generated list of coupons—electronic ones that can be loaded to participating loyalty cards (and automatically deducted at checkout), and others you can print and take with you. The website also tells you what’s on sale at nearby stores. Buy through the Online Shopping Tab and get cash back plus coupon codes for your favorite shopping sites. Check out the Daily Deal, too.

TheGroceryGame.com aspires to help you save like those extreme couponers you see on TV—without the extra helping of crazy. It does the heavy lifting for you by tracking advertised and unadvertised sales patterns at stores in all 50 states, pairing coupons with sales, compiling your savings opportunities into a weekly list, and using all of that info to tell you when it pays to stockpile. The first 28 days are free, then you pay $10 for eight weeks of lists for one store, plus $5 for each additional store. The color code makes it easy to tell which deals can save you the most. Look for green items—they’re almost free; you just pay the sales tax. Before you play, watch the video to see how it works.

For more money-saving tips (plus the stores with the best and worst produce, prices, customer service, and checkout speed), read “Tame Your Grocery Bill” in the September issue of ShopSmart, on newsstands now.

—Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor

   

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