Coupon Queen Teri Gault Shares Her Top 10 Money Saving Tips

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STUDIO CITY (CBS) — Extreme couponers listen up! Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game, has her top 10 saving tips for 2012.

Gault is the CEO and founder of TheGroceryGame.com. This web site is designed to help shoppers save money while shopping at the supermarket by combining advertised and unadvertised sales with coupons from Sunday newspapers or online. An average family of four saves $512 a month using Teri’s system of saving, totaling about 67% savings.

Top 10 Saving Tips For 2012:

1. Play your coupons like a card shark! – You should always buy on sale. But many people don’t realize that you don’t always redeem coupons on the same week they come in the paper. In fact, on a typical money saving grocery shopping spree, I have only about 25 coupons to fill a cart for about 67% off. Of those 25 coupons, maybe 5 are from the current week. The other 20 coupons came weeks or even months ago. Coupons are good for about 3 months before they expire. You can and should hold a coupon until the item goes on sale for even more savings. In fact, a good sale saves 50%. A coupon added to a sale saves another 15-25%. So just using a coupon on a non-sale item won’t save as much as just buying the other brand on sale without a coupon. The best part is that most everything in the supermarket goes on sale about once every 12 weeks, just in time to use a great coupon before it expires! So hold that coupon and “play it” on a great sale!

2. Discover secret grocery deals – Supermarkets’ circulars are an advertisement for only some of the sales being offered in any given week. All kinds of deals are made for food manufacturers to get their goodies in those circulars. But not all deals are shown in the circular. Un-advertised sales are often just as good of a value as many of the advertised sales. I’ve even gotten some of my best deals by using coupons with Un-advertised sales, even free items! You should still shop according to the sales circular, but always keep your eyes open to UN-advertised sales once you’re in the store. Or find them ahead of time at http://www.TheGroceryGame.com, which posts sales and deal stacking for over 200 markets nationwide, with an average of 62% those sales being UN-advertised.

3. Read the tiny dates on food packages – I buy 3 or 4 packages of tofu when it’s on sale, not because I’m going to eat four now or even this week! When I find it on sale, I check the date and since the date indicates it’s good for weeks, I stock up on what we’ll use in that time period. The same applies to honey, yogurt, peanut butter, pasta, oatmeal, organic cereal, butter, orange juice, and more. Start looking at dates for food that’s on sale, and if the date is 3 weeks out for example, ask yourself “How much of this do I normally buy in 3 weeks?” Doing any less than that, translates to, “I’ll just buy one now, and come back next week and buy another at twice the price, and again the following week.”, and so on. Sales cycles dictate that if you don’t stock up, you’ll run out before the next sale. The only way to combat it is to stock up WHEN it’s at the lowest price. It’s not hoarding, just smart investing.

4. Shop online AND stack the deals – It’s been a buyer’s market for all things for some time, and more deals for bargain hunters will be found in 2012. Retail has gone virtual for lots of reasons, and the competition is stiff, and you’re the winner, if you know how to play the game. You can buy anything and everything online, but to navigate the best savings, you need to take advantage of several mainstays of web offerings. For starters use your resources to comparison shop the best price. Then before you go to on any website, check to see if you can link through http://www.ebates.com for extra money back in quarterly payments. Then, look for even more deals… Don’t check out until you search for a promo code. http://www.RetailMeNot.com is my one stop place for promo codes. Even when I go through Ebates, I can usually also stack in promo codes! Many sites let you use a promo code on top of a sale or even clearance. If a site allows only one promo code, and you’ve found several, plug them into the checkout one at a time, and let their shopping cart software shoe you if the free shipping promo code saves you more than the extra 15% percent off code. If they allow more than one promo code, load them all in and watch your total drop!!!

5. Find a coupon or ask for one – Coupons are in, and becoming more of a marketing trend, and usage is up for consumers. The deals are out there for 2012. Make yourself a promise… you will not buy until you look for a deal! Don’t pay for an oil change, car wash, dry cleaning, or even dine in a restaurant until you search your junk mail and online for coupons. And if you don’t find one for where you want to go, pick up the phone and ask, “I wanted to drop off my dry cleaning. Do you have any coupons out there that I could find?” Often times, I’m told they don’t have a coupon, but are more than happy to accept competitors’ coupons. If the answer is “no”. I politely ask, “I’ve found lots of dry cleaning coupons. Do you accept any of your competitors’ coupons?” If they agree, as many do, you now have the best of both worlds. You don’t have to drive as far or waste gas, and you saved time.

6. Sign up for exclusive email offers – More and more retailers are engaging shoppers through exclusive email offers, and I expect to see more proliferating through 2012. Most of us used to feel duped by expecting exclusive email offers and all we got was span. While you’ll still get spam (which is why it’s good to set up a separate email), there really are getting to be more truly exclusive deals in this marketing scheme that cannot be found anywhere else. So it pays to sign up for those alerts, especially with retailers that you frequent. I have my own shopping site with exclusive email offers that I love! http://www.TerisAdvantage.com Some of the alerts are for things you can find on the retailer’s websites. But it feels SO scandalous when I get an alert for an extra 20% off on coffee, and no-where else on the coffee retailer’s website is that deal found!

7. Haggle! – “Haggling” has become more acceptable in this economy, and I suspect that in 2012, more retailers will be engaging in the process, and shoppers are starting to get used to simply asking for a discount. Before you hit the mall, use the web to compare prices. A great place to start with comparison shopping is http://www.google.com/shopping Now, if you want to buy in a store, and the online retailer is cheaper, print the online competitor’s info on that exact item. Bring it to the store and respectfully ask if they can give you a discount. Tell them you appreciate them listening to your request, and that you want to buy from them. Let them know you absolutely don’t expect them to match non brick and mortar online retailer’s prices, but in the same breath, ask if you can just show them “something”. Be ready to show where the online retailer will give you free shipping, warranty, etc. All the while, respectfully re-affirm that you don’t expect that they’re obligated to match the online price. In the end, I’ve had many who will match the price, or most often I get a nice discount. If the sales person on the floor can’t help you with a discount, kindly ask if you can talk to a manager. But make sure if the sales person knows your pitch that they don’t get to “pitch” your request to the manager for you. My version of “haggling” is just asking. I’m very good at it, and actually making friends as I go. I’ve found that most retailers want to make you happy. More and more of this has been going on, and I expect to see as much or more in 2012. It never hurts to ask!

8. Buy resale on big purchases – This economy has perpetuated a huge resale market, particularly for big ticket “new” items which should continue through 2012. Find everything from electronics to jewelry to cars. Due to hard ship, some things look brand new. It’s tragic, but in the end, if someone needs cash, it’s great to have a buyer. Before you spend big money, check resale on Ebay, Craigslist, and your local classifieds online or in the paper. The key is to take your time. Don’t get in a hurry, and check offerings for several weeks or even months. Then be ready with cash and strike fast when the price is right!

9. Save on cosmetics and beauty products in unlikely places – This new economy has created a whole new marketplace for cosmetics. And we’re seeing more of it going into 2012. Skip the department store and check out your drugstore cosmetic deals! Lots of us have learned that Maybelline, L’Oreal, Cover Girl to name a few, are comparable, if not the same as the department store counterparts that cost four times as much! Drugstore brands know they’ve been taking some market share on this due to this economy, and they are stepping it up even more! We’re seeing more and more great sales on everything from lipstick to long lash mascara. All the big chains, CVS, Walgreens, and RiteAid accept coupons along with their sales, but they also have rewards at the register. They’re instant rebates that spit out of the register to be used like cash now or later to come back and buy more eye shadow, mascara, facial wash, and anything else you want to buy! Look for lots of deals to stack on top of deals in 2012. And the best part is, buying on sale with coupon and the instant rebates, sometimes you get it all for free or better! Free makeup? You bet!

10. Make the holidays last – Maximize Holiday grocery offerings beyond the holidays. Holidays bring the lowest prices of the year on certain foods. Many have a long shelf life. So if you stock up at the right time, you can eat for a fraction of the cost for months or more on things you use all year. The winter holidays bring the lowest prices in the baking aisle among lots of other traditional offerings with a long shelf life, many of which good for a year. Steak and shrimp are on killer deals for Valentine’s Day (fill your freezer for months to come). Easter brings the cheapest hams and eggs of the year. Summer holidays bottom out at the lowest of the year on everything BBQ from meats to sauces and condiments. Plus, National monthly themes, like March is National Frozen Foods month. Fill your freezer with all things frozen from waffles to hot wings for half off or better! January is National Diet Foods Month. Now’s the time to stock up on lean, low carb, high fiber frozen meals, diet shakes, green teas, diet pills and more! January is also National Oatmeal Month, and the sales are as low as they’ll be all year on oatmeal. Check the date, and stock up accordingly!

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