Grocery Shopping Secrets Parts 1-4: ONLY ON WITN

The final part of Faye Prosser's "Smart Spender System" we will discuss in this series is meal planning. Prosser says, "If you're not meal planning, your stress level is higher, your grocery budget is higher, and you're spending more time figuring out how to feed your family healthy meals. And more than likely, your going through the drive-thru a few more times than you need to each week."

Prosser says you should make a list of all the meals you're family likes to eat. Then, when you're planning your meals, reference that list. She says it is important to get input from all family members on what meals should make the master list.

Prosser advises you plan your meals for the week based primarily on what you have in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Then, she says, supplement those items with what's on sale at the grocery stores that week.

Prosser uses worksheets that allow her to write out what will be for dinner each day of the week. There is also space for any steps you need to take to prepare that meal, such as defrosting meat that is in the freezer.

Prosser says it takes her 20 minutes to plan meals for one week.

Prosser believes her "Smart Spender System" can put anyone on the path to living a life free of debt. "With a little discipline and determination, folks can find themselves closer to debt-free living everyday," Prosser says. "And that's what this is all about. It's not just about nickel-and-diming or coupons here and there." Prosser says she and her husband have saved enough money to pay off two vehicles. She says she has no debt, other than the mortgage, which will be paid off in five years, before her two girls go to high school.

Prosser's final piece of advice: "It's your money; spend it wisely."


Part IV
Grocery shopping expert and author Faye Prosser says if you are willing to utilize the rebate and refund programs at drug stores, you can get your health and beauty items for free.

Prosser says you should ask drug stores how their refund and rebate programs work. She says stores that have such programs will have rebate booklets at the front of the store.

CVS Pharmacies and Wal-greens have rebate programs that print out at the register when you buy certain items that are marked for rebates. Prosser says the savvy shopper will apply the rebate money to other items that will yield rebates as well. That is what couponners call "rolling."

Don't forget to use manufacturers coupons on the items you are buying at drug stores, even if there is a rebate attached.

Rite-aid has a program where you can file your rebates online, and they will send you the rebate in the form of a check or a gift card.

Prosser says www.hotcouponworld.com will give you a users guide on how many of these rebate programs work.


Part III
Faye Prosser says people use about ten to fifteen percent of the coupons they find in the Sunday newspaper. There are many other places Prosser recommends people find the coupons they will use. In fact, she recommends people find multiple copies of the same coupon, and use the coupons to get the same deal multiple times. Savvy shoppers will stockpile items when they can get a deal. If there is a deal out there on an item you will use, go get it. Obviously, perishable goods don't apply, unless you can freeze them.

Prosser's rule of thumb: if she can save 75% on the item's full price, she stockpiles it.

Prosser recommends searching for coupons you will use on www.thecouponclippers.com and even on www.ebay.com. Prosser says you pay for the service of coupon clipping. The service will find, cut, clip and send you the coupons you request, for a service fee.

Prosser says the internet also has many sites where you can print coupons for free. She recommends www.coupons.com and www.smartsource.com. Prosser says a company's website may have coupons as well, so check out the websites for the brand names you use.

While we're talking websites, Prosser recommends taking a look at www.savvydollar.org. The website is a forum for all sorts of deals and good buys people in North Carolina are finding. You can find links to many more helpful websites on Prosser's site under "Resources," but you can go right to the link by clicking here.

As you start collecting coupons, organization is key. Prosser uses what she calls the "binder system." She uses a three-ring binder full of baseball card holders. They allow you to see what coupons you have and when they expire. Prosser also divides her binder into 24 sections, based on sections in the grocery store (for example,beverage, canned, produce, etc.).

Prosser's system includes making a grocery store list ahead of time, and pulling all the usable coupons out before you head to the store. However, she always takes her coupon binder with her. She says that allows her to cash in big on unadvertised sales. For instance, if a jar of salsa is on sale at the store and she did not know ahead of time, and she has a coupon for that brand of salsa, she will be able to cash in on the deal.

While it is easy to create your own personal coupon binder, Prosser offers a starter kit on her website, www.smartspendingresources.com.

Once a month, Prosser gets rid of any expired coupons. She donates them to military members, who can use the coupons for a few months after they are expired. You can find the programs to do that as well on Prosser's Resources Page.


Part II
Grocery shopping guru and author, Faye Prosser, says a savvy shopper must first understand the different types of coupons.

Manufacturers coupons come from, as the name suggests, from manufacturers. You can find these in the Sunday newspaper, on store shelves and product packaging. Manufacturers coupons can be used anywhere that accepts coupons.

Store coupons are generally accepted only at the issuing store. However, some stores, including Harris Teeter, will accept competitor coupons.

Register coupons are those that printout with your receipt at the register.

Store and manufacturer coupons can be used together; register coupons can not be used with other coupons.

Prosser says it is very important to know what the coupon policies are at your area grocery stores. Some stores will double the value of your coupon, including Harris Teeter, Lowe's Foods and Kroger. Some stores double up to 50 cents; some double up to 99 cents.

If a sale item is sold out, you can, as Prosser says, "create your own sale," by getting a rain check. Prosser says just ask the customer service counter for a rain check for the item. Then, you can take advantage of the sale price whenever it is convenient for you.

Check out Part III to see how Prosser finds and uses the right coupons and how she organizes them.


Part I
Faye Prosser is the new definition of power shopper.

"Our budget, for our family of four, my husband and I, and our two children, is $55 a week," Prosser says.

Prosser may spend $55, but she brings home more like $150 or $200 worth of groceries. She saves incredible amounts of money every time she shops.

"One of the most important things for folks to remember is that if they are willing to shop, even if it is one or two different stores, they're going to save money," Prosser says.

Prosser buys in bulk when there's a good buy, but usually does not go to warehouse clubs like Sam's or Costco. They do not take coupons, which is a huge part of Prosser's program.

Another secret to her success: making yourself a "price book," which lists the cost per unit for the items you buy regularly.

"That way, when you get to the store and the items on sale, and you're not sure if it's a good price, you can figure out the unit price, or know if it's going to be on sale somewhere else," Prosser says.

Prosser also says planning ahead is key. You might think it's a waste of time to make a list, but that way you don't end up wandering around the store, or stumbling into buys that aren't bargains.

"I plan the whole week's meals out at home, and i make my list. I pull my coupons, so by the time i get to the store, everything's done," Prosser says.

Prosser hits the good buys the store offers, but also combines coupons to make them worth even more. Many stores will double your coupons on a daily basis.

In the end, Prosser buys $117 worth of groceries, including milk, meat and produce, for the price of just $24,

Check out Part II to see how Prosser makes coupons worth more than you ever thought possible.

You can also visit her website, www.smartspendingresources.com


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