Saturday, March 31, 2012

Couponing- Military wife style.

Being a Military wife gives me some advantages when it comes to grocery shopping, but a lot of the tips and tricks I use on post also work in the civilian world.

The Commissary & PX
The Commissary is a wonderful place to shop. There are some people that will say places like Wal*Mart offer better prices and after doing that math, I can only say that's partially true. The only time I have found any store to be cheaper than the commissary is when it comes to generic products and special sales. Here's why:

  • The commissary is TAX free, and even if food is tax free in most states the few items you pick up while your there for convenience (sponges, detergent, dog food) aren't. The commissary does however have "surcharge" but even that is less than tax.
  • Coupons. On top of everyday low prices you get to use coupons. Not just manufacture coupons either- Companies produce "Military only" coupons and distribute them two ways: By having them placed near the item they are for or displayed booklet style near the front of the commissary. This gives you access to additional savings.
  • The PX is tax free on everything AND they price Match. The PX also allows you to combine Exchange coupons with Manufacture coupons for double the savings. 
A personal example: The PX was offering a coupon for $1.50 off Bic Disposable razors. I had 4 manufactures coupons for $3.00 off one package. Where to start: The original price for the razors is 5.50 at the PX. I asked the cashier to price match Wal*mart, which had them on sale for 5.00 (Already, I've saved $2.00 off 4 packages). Then, using the store coupon they took 1.50 off of each package. (Saving me another 6 dollars). Then, using my 4 manufacture coupons they took another 3.00 off each (Another $12 dollars)- Bringing my total to $2.00 for 4 packages of Razors. That's .50 cents per box, or 10 cents a razor! When you take into count the tax I also saved, this makes my total savings 20.50!

Military & other stores
Now, although I do believe the commissary is cheaper for regular priced items, there are bonuses to shopping around at other places.

  • Military Discounts. Some companies offer Military discounts with an ID, which is great. Mostly the discount is just 10%, but it's awesome when combined with sales and coupons!
For Example: Alberstons is consistently cheaper than the commissary for eggs, milk and bread.. One week There was a coupon are making eggs only .99, Milk was on sale for 2 for $5 and bread was only .99! Already you're saving almost 4 dollars by choosing Alberstons, taking another 10% of your total you take off another .70, bringing your savings to $4.70!

Military Discounts
Note: These are ones I have personal used, but discounts vary by location. Always remember to ask.

Albertsons (10%) on special days (See local ad)
Old Navy (10%) every Monday
Deb's stores (10%)
Dot's (10%)
Payless (20%)
Ralph Lauren Outlet (15%)
Cinamark Cinemas (Flat rate tickets)
Carinos Italian Restaurant (15%)
Ruby Tuesdays (10%)
New Balance Outlet (10%)
Comfort Inn (Flat rate rooms)
Hot Topic (10%)
Torrid (10%)
Lowes (10%)
7/11 (10% off fountain drinks, coffee's and slurpees)

Basic money saving tips:
These tips make savings money easier for me.
  •  Set a budget. We give our selves a budget of $200 a month, and go grocery shopping every two weeks. That's $100 each trip. I can't stress how important it is to stick to your budget. As you go through the store tally up everything you put in your cart. Round up to the nearest dollar to make your savings go even further. It's always a nice surprise to head over to the register thinking you've spent $100 and find out you've only spent $90.
  • Make a meal plan. Knowing exactly what you plan to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner means you know exactly what you need to buy. is a great website that will help you plan out meals and it puts them neatly on a calender for you. If your family has snackers, make sure you budget for those!
  • Shop the sales. While you are making a meal plan, take into account sales from the local grocery stores, making trips to a few different stores may seem like a hassle, but it could mean saving $50. Remember that wal*mart price matches!
  • Make your list. Now that you have your meals planned out and know what's on sale. You need to make a list- write out EVERY ingredient you're going to need to buy, make sure you take the time to go through your cupboards, freezer and pantry to see what you already have. You're not saving money if you're constantly buying peanut butter and there's already 4 in your cupboard.

The most basic way to get coupons is through the Sunday paper. This is also the easiest way to search the sale ads. However, the world of couponing goes far beyond that. Make sure when you are searching for and printing your coupons that you STICK TO YOUR LIST. Coupons won't do you any good if you buy things you don't need!

  • Online Websites. There are ton's of sights you can order coupons from, but I don't bother. Sights like and collect all the coupons available for print and link you to their sites. Half of the work is done for you.
  • Product sites. Going to individual sites, like Pillsbury and Johnsonville will more often than have coupons available for their products.
  • Facebook. To boost customer base, companies will often offer coupons if you "like" their page,or give you specials randomly. 
  • Spam. You know those random "Newsletters" companies try to get you to sign up for? They often include coupons in them. I created a separate account for these. The one I can count on is P&G solutions, every once in a while they put a "brand saver" in the paper, but once every quarter you can also order coupons & product samples for free.
  • Magazines. Certain magazines like Allyou come filled with coupons (and savings tips!) and you can get a subscription for 1.66 an issue. Don't feel like subscribing? Though you'll miss out on some coupons, they do have a few available on their website.
  • Flyers & Store websites: Depending on the coupon policy of each individual store, sometimes you can combine store coupons with manufacture coupons. This is true for stores like Target and Walgreens. Stores will post coupons in their weekly flyer as well as online.
  • Reusable bags: Certain stores, like Target, give you 5-10 cents off your purchase for every reusable bag you bring. This isn't a HUGE saving, but it doesn't hurt to save a bit more and save the environment while you're at it! (This is also true for the PX)
  • Coupon Websites:,,,