10 Grocery Savings Secrets from Supermarket Insiders

Asking your store manager just a few simple questions can save you a ton of money in the long run!

Never pay full price again

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Some frugal grocery shoppers will drive all over town to take advantage of every coupon, ad, or rewards program. But there’s an easy way to learn the ins and outs of grocery store coupon policies and promotions. “Just ask your store manager, who will happily tell you how to save the most at their store,” says Annette Economides, a frugal-living expert who, along with her husband, Steve Economides, wrote Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family. Check out these tips and tricks on how to score the best values. 

Check your store’s coupon policies

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Successful couponers know to look on a store’s website for the printable coupon policy to help them get the best deals. Some grocery chains double or triple coupon face values, with specific limits. For example, a coupon for 50 cents off would be worth $1.

Publix and Target allow you to use a store coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon (this is called “stacking”); Walmart does not. But Walmart will apply any coupon overage (when savings are more than the final product cost) to your total grocery bill, while most other stores won’t. Costco accepts no manufacturer coupons. Publix will honor certain competitors’ coupons, depending on your store location. Target honors no competing stores’ coupons. Coupon policies change often, so make it a habit to check your store’s policy.

Ask your store manager:

  • Is there a grace period on coupon expiration dates?
  • Do you double or triple coupon face values?
  • Can I stack coupons at your store?
  • Do you have mobile coupons I can get on my phone?
  • How do you apply coupon overages?
  • Do you match or accept other stores’ coupons?

Use the store’s loyalty programs

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Stores try to attract you with special rewards for shopping at their stores, but not all stores have these loyalty programs. At CVS, you can earn Extra Bucks (cash built up on your Extra Care rewards card) for qualifying purchases that you can use as cash off your next purchase. There’s even a coupon machine in front of every store where Extra Care cardholders can scan their cards and get special unadvertised coupons. CVS also has a coupon app for mobile devices. At Costco, an executive membership earns 2 percent cash-back rewards (up to $1,000 per year) on qualifying Costco purchases. It pays to know the ins and outs of each system, so you can take maximum advantage, Economides says. Ask your store manager:

  • Do you have a loyalty program?
  • Do you give cash-back rewards?
  • Does it provide additional savings on future purchases?
  • How do I use it?
  • Can these savings be combined with other manufacturer or store coupons?

Stock up at outlets and closeouts

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Outlet and closeout stores have a lot to offer, Economides says, especially when they sell a brand-name item you eat or use regularly. If these stores offer a deal on items you need regularly, you should buy as many as you can afford and stockpile them. “Watch out, though, because some manufacturers will provide these outlets with a smaller size to sell for cheaper, so know your regular sizes and prices before buying,” Economides warns. She also says these stores typically do not accept coupons of any type—another reason to know your prices. Ask your store manager:

  • When does the (brand) truck come each week?
  • Do you always carry (name brand)?
  • Do you accept any coupons?
  • Do you have a loyalty program?

Also, beware of these common supermarket tricks you still fall for.