Savings Makeover: Cut Your Costs by Thousands with Painless Financial Tweaks

It was easy to find ways for Robin Shoblock to make a dent in her student loans because she trained to become a teacher and the federal government has several loan forgiveness programs to encourage good teachers to enter the field. But could I find some help for her daughter Jill, who also just graduated and doesn't really know what field she wants to enter yet? Yup! For Jill I found something called the VISTA program, which stands for Volunteers In Service to America, and is part of the government's Americorps program. Any college graduate who volunteers in an approved position in a low income neighborhood for 1,700 hours can receive $4,725 toward their student loans.

"It's definitely something I could do," Jill Shoblock said.

Strategy #11: Stockpile groceries when they're on sale = $4,160

The Shoblocks figure they spend $140 a week --$8,320 a year—on groceries. That's not as much as they used to when the kids were younger and home all the time but still a substantial sum. Robin said she didn't have time to get serious about couponing but that she definitely wanted to put a dent in that grocery total. So I suggested stockpiling, where instead of buying groceries when you need them, you buy them when they are at their lowest price. And then you buy enough to get you through until the next sale. All you need to do is clear out a closet or stick up some extra shelves in your garage and you are in business. You can stockpile everything except fresh produce and eggs. You can even stockpile milk and cheese if you have enough freezer space.

If you make a commitment to only buy groceries when they are at least half off, you are well on your way to cutting your grocery bills in half. It can be hard to know when a sale is just lukewarm or truly hot, but these days there are websites to guide you. CouponMom.com is a free site that tracks grocery store sales in most states. TheGroceryGame.com is another helpful site that charges a small subscription fee, but covers some stores that the CouponMom site does not.

Both sites tell you what is on sale at your local store each week, what percentage off the discount is, and whether there are manufacturer coupons you can pair with the sale for even bigger savings. Learn to tailor your meals to those sale items instead of buying groceries at random and you will SAVE BIG.

CLICK HERE to learn more about SAVE BIG by Elisabeth Leamy, ABC News consumer correspondent.

CLICK HERE for more savings resources available on Elisabeth Leamy's website.

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