Save The Way YOU Can Save (Penny Pinching Is Not A Competition . . .)


I've received three emails this week from sweet couponers who are struggling to feel like they're saving as much as they'd like each week at the grocery store.  I think part of it may be after reading a recent post where I shared what our grocery budget looked like (and many of you chimed in too!) I know that is such a common feeling, so I wanted to share a few tips that might help you pinch an extra penny or two without sabotaging your coupon success!


1.  Seriously consider additional ways to re-use things to help you save extra at the grocery store.   I've shared before that there are some little changes we've made that have really helped our grocery budget go further, but here's my absolute favorite one (that you can see above):  try to save as much as you can on plastic & paper products.  Here's the thing:  I can pick up cheap snacks, cleaning supplies, and even toiletries just about any day of the week, but finding big savings on trash bags and paper towels is just hard to do. So, because I'm plain old lazy (and don't want to spend all my time hunting down a deal!), I double up my plastic grocery sacks and hang them on my kitchen cabinets for trash bags. (Gasp! My secret is out!)  This has been a HUGE money saver for our family, and while we do also have regular kitchen sacks, I probably only go through one or two per week because of substituting with the smaller (free!) bags instead . . . plus they're the perfect size for my kids to take out to the trash after dinner each night!


2.  Remember that all families are different.  At our house, I may cook two to three big meals per week, but the rest of the nights we either have leftovers or sandwiches as we race out the door to our children's activities.  My husband really isn't a big eater (I know that sounds nuts!), so if he has a big lunch with someone at work he's pretty content to come home and have a pb&j for dinner.  We also have a “couponed” frozen pizza or breakfast for dinner at least once a week, which definitely helps us squeeze our grocery budget.  This works for us, and we don't feel like we're missing out on anything, but may not work for your family.  Consider your family's needs, and base your grocery budget on that.


3. Where you grocery shop will make a big difference in your savings.  I shop at a fantastic store that doubles coupons everyday and takes quite a few competitor coupons.  I also go with a very specific plan in mind, so that I'm only purchasing the things that I need while they're at rock bottom pricesWhile I'll occasionally pick up something extra that's not on my list, it's pretty rare, because I really want to stick to my budget.  If you can, make a list of exactly what you're going to purchase (including how many of each item), and determine before going into the store what your bill will be.


4.  If you're purchasing organic produce & meat, your grocery budget will be bigger than someone else's . . . and that's totally okay (in fact, you're doing a great thing!)  Plan to spend anywhere from $10-$20 extra per week if you're purchasing organics, and then just don't stress over it. (Really!)  You can also check out a few tips on how to save when using organics over HERE.


5.  Only compare yourself to you.  If you watch Extreme Couponing (or even see my crazy friend Shannon's deals), you may be overwhelmed by how well some folks can save.  Remember though, these may not be representative of they're saving every day.  So don't compare yourself to anyone.  (Did you hear that????)  Instead, save the very most you can for your family, do the best you can do, and move on. 


Do you have any tips on how to pinch extra pennies in your home?  As always, I'd love to hear them . . . you know when you leave a comment it makes my day! 🙂





Print Friendly and PDF


  1. That is just too funny. I got a new home two years ago and I haven’t never bought a garbage can. I actually hang a grocery bag on the drawer too. Funny thing is I don’t even double them.

    • How funny Candie! I have to double mine, because sometimes they get holes in them and my garbage is GROSS. Now I love hanging them from the drawer (and it makes throwing things away so easy) that I miss them when they’re not there! 🙂

  2. Please don’t get discouraged! I made the commitment to be more frugal two years ago and have had many ups and downs along the way. I too get a buzz kill when I see how little some people spend each week compared to me; however, I also notice differences in budget breakdown. I group my food and toiletries together in spending because it is easier for me. So my “grocery bill” will be higher than others. We do not go out to eat every week. When some bloggers list their weekly menu, they include a dinner out each week or have dinner with family, friends, or church. Our leftovers are my husband’s lunch the next day, saving lunch out each day. How many people are you feeding? How many are boys or teenagers? These differences add up. I feel it takes time to build a stockpile to significantly impact your spending. When I compare what I spent two years ago to what I spend now, I am very proud of myself. I plan for meals and shopping trips which makes me less stressed and a happier mom. Hang in there and keep up the good work! Thanks Laurie for encouraging us every day!

    • Those are great points Lori – and not eating out at all is a HUGE savings! (We only ate out once last week – we usually do eat out 2-3 times which definitely lightens our grocery budget, but is horrible on our entertaining budget!) Thanks so much for the encouragement – and you should definitely be proud of yourself 🙂

  3. I trade coupons with a friend and my MIL. We know the items that we all use the most and will print off any coupons that we know one of us will use.

    I have a home daycare and use the grocery bags for dirty diapers and soiled clothes ~ have for years.

    The smartest thing I have done is prioritize what goes on my list and take advantage of specials that I can stock up and freeze. The daycare kids eat the same lunches every week so it is easy to buy in bulk. My family is picky, but we are saving for a vacation so it helps for them to understand!

    • Figuring out what you use all the time and getting it at the best price is HUGE – thanks for pointing that out! And I love that your’e saving towards going on vacation instead of paying full price for groceries!

  4. Thanks for this post! Your words of support to not judge ourselves but be proud for whatever level of effort we DO make resonated with me; I definitely fall into the category of “couponer’s guilt” when I see how much others are saving compared to me. I save almost all of my plastic bags (unless they’re sticky from something) and reuuse them for everything from vegetable discards (cucumber peel, bell pepper insides, etc.) to a receptacle for my fiance’s gym clothes that he takes to work every day!

    • I think as long as we’re doing the best for our situation, we definitely can’t compare ourselves to others. (And I love using plastic bags for vegetable extras…. makes it so much easier to clean up!)

  5. Thanks for this post. You are right, comparing myself to our “crazy friend” Shannon (LOL!) will always make my savings look small, but when I share my savings with the hubby, he is floored. He says it’s my “2nd job.” We do have an extremely picky child & buy a lot of produce, so I know I am doing the best I can. My sis recently got into saving & it’s fun to share her victories! And Shannon is proud of my .60 cent shirt from Target!

    • I realized when I re-read the post that I may have made my AWESOME friend Shannon sound crazy… that’s not the way I meant it (she’s just amazing!) And you’re right – it’s a huge savings and any time my hubby’s happy, I’m happy. (But wow – a $.60 shirt at Target? WOOHOO!) 🙂

      • I know I have said this to Shannon, but you need to hear it too: You two make an amazing team! Your dedication to this blog boggles my mind, and Shannon LOVES doing the store runs for you. It’s so cool how God put you together. And yeah, the Target shirt was on major clearance and I had a $3 off coupon!

  6. Laurie,

    We either compost or recycle most of our “trash”….the only reason we end up throwing it out once a week, if that, is some little things begins to smell. Otherwise, we could probably use 1 bag every 2 weeks and that would be plenty. I know composting is hard for lots of people, but we just throw all our scraps into a little bucket, and then make a trip to my parents house that’s a little down the road every week and a half or so and dump it in their compost pile. It’s super environmentally friendly, and saves a TON of waste! As does recycling, of course. 🙂

    • Those are great points Jessica! We only compost a tiny bit of our stuff in our garden during the summertime, but have noticed a HUGE reduction in trash since we started recycling (it makes such a difference – we literally have gone from two trash cans to one each week!) Such a great point…. we live in a neighborhood w/ pretty small yards so I’m not sure how composting would go – it’s so nice that you can take it to your parents house to their pile! Thanks so much for the tips 🙂

  7. One of my favorite posts!! Thanks, Laurie, for everything you do to help and encourage us!

  8. As Cheryl said, her sister got into couponing…that is me! I am SO thankful that Cheryl shared PPP with me. I work full time, and I used to try to do all the ad searching and deal finding by myself. It took up so much of my time when I wanted to be spending time with my family! So I cant thank you guys enough for all the hard work you do. I cannot imagine how much time you must spend looking for all these deals to help us save. You are amazing, and I am beyond grateful for all that you do.

  9. I personally rediscovered GFS Marketplace. Its a store like Sams Club but you don’t pay a fee to join. The caterers around here use it to buy in bulk. I went in to make a menu for our High school JROTC military ball to see how much cheaper the moms could do it rather than hiring a caterer. Well after finishing what I went in for I ended up shopping for my family. I paid $1.49 a lb. for boneless pork roast. I bought a big enough one(16 lbs) for $24.20 that it will give me at least 6 roasts depending on how I divide it. I also bought three 10 lb spiral hams for $.99 lb., box of frozen pork chops for $17.99 which has about 35 (4-5oz) chops inside and a 10 lb. box of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $34.99. By buying this way in bulk I saved money instead of shopping at my normal grocery stores. They also had a $5 coupon and will give 1 percent back to our school or an organization in our school. In my case the JROTC program. I think from now on I’ll buy a majority of my meat there but still shop Publix and Kroger for my items I can double coupon and on sale.

  10. Thank you Laurie for having this site. You give us great ideas and also allow us to contribute on how we save money.

  11. I love your blog and learn new things all the time. I can’t use those small bags for my main garbage because I have a big dog who would be in them, but I do use them in the bathrooms. We recycle a lot so I don’t use a ton of big bags. It drives me crazy that stores don’t double here in S FL, my bill would be so much less, I would like to find out their reason why they don’t. I love CVS, I bought the listerine deal & milk, I paid .80 & got back $3 in ECB. Thanks for all you do!

  12. I use my plastic bags for trash too, I also have cardboard boxes (free) that we put anything we can take to the local recycling drop off & save the space in the trash we do take out. Instead of a trash bag a day we use 1 a week.We stock up on basic food & toiletries when they are a great buy (50% off ) & have meatless Mondays. We buy potatoes in 50# bags for $10 & have a get them all cut, cooked, mashed, French fried or curly fried in a day & freeze for the next 6 months. We keep dried milk, flour, yeast on hand to bake breads, make milk etc to extend those items.We make our laundry soap, fab softner, etc to save that way also.

  13. Kay Russell says

    Great post!

  14. I re-use the free shopping bags for my recycling each night. Any plastic, alum or food cans get a quick rinse and go into the “walmart” bag and then to the recycle can. There are only 2 of us now, and we have more recycling than garbage!!!
    By the way, the plastic Crystal Lite tubes with a snap on lid have many more uses once the drink mix is gone. They can have your children’s name written on them for a free piggy bank, you can put dental picks in them, change, the leftover catsup packets, etc.. Find lots of uses once you start looking for what can go into a clear container?

  15. Jenny Davidson says

    I think another thing that helps cut down on grocery bill is having a stocked kitchen. Which I don't have yet but here has been a few months I did and it sure trimmed the bill a bit

  16. Amber Roling Atkins says

    I use bar mop towels for paper towels. 40 of them costed less then a mega pack of bounty. I'm going on 2 yrs. The worn out one become grease rags in the garage. I also make my own Clorox wipes out of scratchy washcloths. It adds one load of laundry a week.

  17. I never realized how broke we were growing up (and how amazingly thrifty my mom was) until I moved out in college and my random roommates were flabbergasted that I was washing, drying and reusing aluminum foil and ziploc bags.

  18. Tammy Glotfelty Myers says

    LOL, I hang the plastic grocery bags from my kitchen drawers too. My husband doesn't like it much but I'd be lost without them!

Speak Your Mind