I’m not talking about going the extreme coupon route here. I’m talking about real world every day people kind of saving money. It takes a little bit of extra time, but it’s totally worth it.

Make a List

That way you don’t forget anything and you don’t wind up buying everything in sight because you think you’re out, when in actuality you have a half a jar of it in the fridge, plus two whole unopened jars at home. There are numerous grocery list apps available for smart phones. Grocery iQ, Grocery Gadget and Green Grocer are some of the better ones. I still hand write my lists even though I have an app because it's easier to add items on a hand written list, but the app is great to track spending and savings. When writing out the list, keep track of what it cost you for some key staple items last time that way you’ll know a good deal when you see it.

Comparison shop and bring a calculator.

Some stores do have “per unit” pricing in the fine print, but if not, whip out your calculator. Every little bit helps. If Jen’s Pretty Good BBQ Sauce is 2 for $2, but Chad’s Rockin’ BBQ Sauce is 2 for $2 it doesn’t sound like such a great deal, but Jen’s BBQ Sauce is a 12 ounce bottle that regularly retails for $2.50 or 20.8 cents per ounce but is on sale for $1 that’s 7.6 cents an ounce and a savings of $3. Chad’s BBQ sauce is a 15 ounce bottle that regularly retails for $2, or 13.3 cents per ounce. You’re getting 30 ounces of BBQ sauce for $2, a savings of $2, but it’s 6.6 cents per ounce. **Side note - I never thought I would have to solve a word problem like that outside of Mr. Jerhoff’s 11th grade advanced algrbra class, or have to write a blog about it outside of Mr. Mikel’s senior economics class. Wow. Who knew? Store to store and brand to brand things can differ dramatically, so read through those ads. Which brings me to my next point:

Coupons are Awesome

Max out your coupon strategy by paging through the circulars, Sunday papers, packaging and manufacturer websites. There are great online resources for money saving offers you can print right from your computer. Try to shop on double coupon days or see if the store will allow you to use a manufacturer’s coupon on top of a store coupon on top of a sale item. Those days are the best! It’s also a good idea if the store you’re at will honor a competitor’s coupon. Sometimes they will if you’re a loyal customer and you ask nicely. You’re already in the store, and they don’t want you going elsewhere, so give it a shot. You can also get additional discounts and money off of gas when you cross shop between grocery and convenience stores with the store rewards club card, just don’t forget yours at home.

Buy in Bulk – Sometimes

Buying in bulk for Glen and I just doesn’t really make sense, but if you do a lot of entertaining or you’re having a large meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas, buying in bulk for meat, frozen vegetables, bread cubes, spices, drink ware, plates, napkins, tablecloth and flatware makes total sense. As does stocking up on canned goods; especially if you’re shopping for a family.

Toss Brand Loyalty Out the Window

I’ve always been a Colegate/Listerine/Secret/Kraft/Sara Lee/Folgers kind of girl, but the product you’re brand loyal to may not always be the least expensive, so try and break out of your old brand loyal habits if you’re trying to save money and remember that the most expensive items are ususally right at eye level, so check up or down a few shelves and you may just discover some savings.

Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Bottled water costs a lot of money and uses a lot of plastic, but if you buy a water filter pitcher, it may cost a little more up front, but you’re going to save huge money down the road. Say a 16.9 ounce bottle of water costs 40 cents and they come in a 30 pack. That’s $12. A water filter pitcher can fill as many as 300 16.9 ounce bottles of water for about $10. That means a 16.9 ounce bottle of water is three cents. A reusable water bottle costs about $10 and try to find one that’s BPA free. There should be a sticker on the package. If you're like me and need some flavor in your water, I use MiO water flavoring. No sugar, no carbs, no calories and it's like instant Kool Aid.

How do you save money at the grocery store?