10 foods never worth paying full price for
The average family spends more than $200 a week at the grocery store, but if you're savvy about what you put into your cart, you can spend less.
According to an analysis that Coupons.com ran for MarketWatch, some items at the grocery store are discounted more frequently than others — which means you should rarely pay full price for them. Throughout 2014, retailers and manufacturers issued the most coupons for cereal (the average discount was 87 cents), followed by cheese (76 cents) and salty snacks like potato chips, the data, which looked at coupons issues for the year-to-date, revealed.
10 foods never worth paying full price for
In 2014, more coupons were issued for these foods than any other
|Salty snacks (like chips)||$0.79|
|Portable snacks (like single-serve items)||$0.82|
|Bulk ice cream||$0.94|
|Sweet snacks (like fruit roll-ups)||$0.67|
|Shelf stable (typically this is canned foods)||$0.83|
To be sure, coupons have their flaws. Just because you use a coupon doesn't mean you're saving money — stores, after all, have been known to manipulate prices accordingly. (To combat that, "know the price ranges of the items they [the store] purchase regularly to be able to recognize if using a coupon is a good deal or not," recommends Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.) And there is research that shows coupons drive traffic into stores, which then can make people buy unnecessary items once they are there. (To avoid that, experts recommend making a list before shopping using the stores' circular or checking for deals online — and sticking to that list (an app like Grocery IQ makes this easy)).
Despite these coupon pitfalls, savvy shoppers can save money by using coupons (to make it easy to find and redeem them, use apps like Coupons.com and Favado), and combining them with other shopping strategies. Here are a few, lesser-known ways to do that.
Combine sales and loyalty discounts with coupons — on a Wednesday.
In many grocery stores, Wednesday is the best day to shop because "often this is when new sales begin, so you can get early access to the discounted inventory," says Jon Lal, the CEO and founder of BeFrugal.com. Plus, paper products typically go on sale the first week of the month, says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. When possible, combine those sales with coupons and make sure to use your loyalty card for maximum savings.
Score rebates — and pile the sales and coupons on top.
Erin Konrad, a spokesperson for CouponPal.com, says she likes apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, which give you cash-back on items you buy. Using Ibotta, for example, you look at messages for items that have rebates before you shop, then once your buy them, send a photo of your receipt and they will send you cash via PayPal, Venmo or a gift card; some of the current grocery rebates are $1 cash for Jennie-O ground turkey and Pace Picante Salsa and 75 cents for Chobani Greek Yogurt. If possible, combine these rebates with sales and coupons.
Buy the lowest priced item — and top it off with a coupon.
To make sure you're paying the lowest price, check different departments for the same item. "A type of cheese sold in the deli department might cost more than a different brand of the same type of cheese sold in the dairy department," explains Nelson. "One brand of a type of nuts in the produce department might cost less than a different brand of the same type of nuts in the baking aisle."
Along the same lines, if you see an item on your list featured in a special display, you may want to steer clear — even if you have a coupon. "Don't assume that special displays or displays at the end of an aisle are the best prices," Nelson says. "They may actually be selling at full price."
You could also shop "to the left," says Jeanette Pavini, the consumers savings expert at Coupons.com. "'Budget busters are frequently placed at the right side of the store as most shoppers head that way first," she says. "Avoid the trap by heading left before you begin shopping."
Finally, if you do see that an item is on sale but out of stock, "you could ask for a rain check," says Pavini. "This will allow you to get the item at the sale price when it's back in stock. Add a coupon on top of those strategies for more savings.
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