Each week on "Good Afternoon America," we'll be showing you where to find the best hidden savings in our segment called Found Money. And what better place to start saving than at the grocery store.
Judy Pezza, "The Couponator" from TLC's show "Extreme Couponing," shared her tips on how to save big, even if you're not armed with coupons when you grab your shopping cart. Here are her tips on how to save - even if you don't have coupons in hand :
Pick Up the Flyer at the Front
It's usually the first thing you see when you walk in the store, and it's the first thing you should grab. Stores typically have one flyer for the week that includes savings. They may also have bonus buys as a separate handout. And if you don't see flyers when you walk in, you can always go to the customer service desk to ask for one.
Look for Coupons on Shelves (a.k.a. "Blinkie Boxes)
Keep your eyes peeled for "Blinkie Boxes" in the aisles. These are the boxes that have green buttons that blink to grab your attention. Pezza recommends only taking a couple of these coupons to use on the actual products you will be purchasing. The manufacturers put them on the shelves where the products are placed.
Look for Peelies and Hang Tags
A peelie is a coupon directly on the product that you can use at the register for instant savings. Be sure to read it closely for the expiration date, as well as the terms and conditions.
Hang tags, also known as wine tags, are more typically found on cleaning products, beverages and items that come in a bottle. These also provide instant savings at the register. A bottle of salad dressing might use a hang tag for discounts on lettuce when purchased together.
Steer Clear of the Danger Zones
Do yourself a favor and stick to the perimeter of the store. Smells that resonate from the bakery are designed to tempt you. The produce, dairy, meat and frozen food sections provide the most nutritional options. Pezza says you should think of the interior aisles as potential price traps. And always keep in mind the most expensive items are located on the shelves between knee and shoulder height. You will find better deals looking high or looking low. The items in the middle were strategically placed there to lure you into buying the pricier items.
Buy in Bulk When Offered
Some stores offer discounts when you purchase items by the case instead of just buying one or two. Be sure to ask the customer service desk if they offer a "by the case" discount. It's typically 12 of the same item per case. Some stores allow you to mix and match different flavors of the same item, but also let the cashier know you're purchasing the entire case so they manually apply the 10 percent discount to your order.
Pay Attention to the Price Per Unit
You always know when you're getting the best deal if you pay attention to the price per unit. For instance, when comparing a large container of peanut butter with a smaller jar, the price per ounce may be cheaper if you go with the larger size. This may not always be the case, so be sure to double check.
It's also especially handy to weigh your items in the produce section when paying by the pound. Always weigh your item to get the approximate price so you're not surprised with a big bill when you reach the register.
Beware of Deals such as 2 for $3
When items are marked with deals such as 2 for $3 that doesn't mean you have to buy two of them to get the cheaper price. This is helpful to know since most people purchase the two items thinking it's a must to receive the discount.
End-Caps Aren't Always Sale Items
End-caps, the big displays at the end of an aisle, are prime real estate in the grocery store world. Manufacturers pay more money to have their products displayed there. It's a position meant to grab your attention, but it does not always mean the items are on sale. Anything that is displayed on an end-cap is also located on the shelves.
Still More Savings at the Register
Be sure to always bring reusable bags with you to the grocery store. Most stores will give you discounts for using them, not to mention it helps the environment.
Also be sure to always take the additional coupons that print out for you at the register. These could be for a flat amount off your next purchase or an additional coupon towards products you purchase.
Find out if your store has a "price-match" program. If they do, be sure to look through the different prices each store offers to find the best deals. Bring those coupons with you and you will be able to receive the cheapest prices for every item all in one place.