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Cut, Click, or Charge… Guidance from Grocery Gurus

Money-Guy 02-18-2011

Let’s face it-groceries are a necessity for all of us, but more often than not, we’re left cringing at the checkout line over the impact on our wallets. In this week’s show, we dive head first into the world of smart shopping and coupon clipping in an effort to discover where you can really find the best deals.

In my household, there has been an ongoing debate over the value of lower prices that can be found in discount stores, such as Wal-Mart, versus what some may view as a more enjoyable shopping experience in stores like Target or Publix. I figured the best way to find the true pros and cons of each supermarket genre would be to do some research on real grocery stores with real grocery list items. I opened my refrigerator and came up with 20 products that my family buys on a regular basis. As you listen to the show, I share how I got the entire office involved by sending them to investigate the art of supermarket savings in three local stores. We fully expected that Wal-Mart would have the best deals, Target would be somewhere in the middle, and Publix would be the most expensive. What we found was interesting…

The research showed that Wal-Mart did, in fact, have the lowest regular prices on the items we could find in all three stores. Target’s regular prices were 3.72% higher than Wal-Mart’s and the total at Publix ended up being 5.05% higher. However, this data does not take into consideration that Target had several of the list items on sale the day that we did our price spot-check. Factoring in the sale prices, the amount of Target’s bill came down to just .32% higher than Wal-Mart’s. To add yet another component to the experiment, my family uses Target’s Red Card, which automatically saves shoppers an extra 5% on all items at checkout. So with the sale prices combined with the Red Card, Target came out being a shocking 4.69% cheaper than Wal-Mart!

As it turns out, smart shoppers can have their cake and eat it too. And what I mean is that those of you who enjoy the shopping experience and brand variety of stores like Target and Publix do not necessarily have to give those things up in order to get good deals. Wal-Mart did have the lowest base prices, but they also had the worst selection. There were five items on our list that Wal-Mart didn’t even carry. Taking that into consideration in addition to the fact that other supermarkets offer reward cards and coupons that make their prices equal to or better than Wal-Mart’s, you should be able to choose any shopping experience that you wish and still save some money.

Couponing is something else that we hit on in this week’s show. I discovered that there are actually classes out there that teach people the art of Super-Couponing, claiming to change the way you shop forever. We spoke to a couple of our friends and family members who are very enthusiastic about couponing in order to get some of their best tips:

  • Keep your eyes open for your favorite products and brands. There is a six week cycle in which all products will go on sale at some point during that time period.
  • Most stores will double coupons with savings of 50 cents or less, so don’t disregard coupons that do not appear to provide huge savings.
  • Pay special attention to expiration dates on all coupons.
  • Ask if your local grocery store accepts competitor coupons.
  • Be flexible about brands in order to find the best deals.

To close out the show, we share some experiences from our Disney trip. Listen for some tips on how to save money and have an unforgettable MAGICAL vacation.

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