Monday, November 15, 2010

Spending Too Much at the Grocery Store? The Coupon Mom's Here to Help!

(Image from Indiebound)

When my husband saw me reading The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills In Half by Stephanie Nelson, he said, "Couldn't you have written that book?" To which I (very modestly) replied, "Yep." After 13 years of religiously clipping coupons, mailing in rebates and scouring stores for great deals, I think I know what I'm doing on the saving-money-on-groceries-front. And yet, books like this one still grab my attention because, heck, who doesn't want to save even more money? I certainly do. Unfortunately, Nelson didn't have any new-fangled ideas to help me out. She mostly sticks to the basics, walking newbies through the ins and outs of coupon use. So, while the book's a helpful guide for beginners, it's a bit disappointing for us veterans.

If you're new to the savings game, though, you'll want to check Nelson out. The expert shopper runs Coupon Mom, a website dedicated to helping people learn how to shop more strategically. On the site as well as in her book, she explains how to save money by watching for sales, using coupons to further reduce prices, and stockpiling items while they can be purchased most cheaply. Of course, none of that can happen without first learning where to find coupons, how to organize them efficiently, and how to use them to save the most money, all topics Nelson addresses. Since not everyone has the time to turn frugality into a part-time job, she tailors her ideas to fit different shopping styles. She also offers some time-worn tips that can help everyone, even those who never clip coupons: Compare unit prices before automatically buying the biggest can/jar/box of a product; consider growing your own herbs and vegetables; Cook at home to avoid spending at restaurants, etc.

While Nelson's tips are aimed at helping people trim their own budgets, what I most appreciate about her book is the section on using coupons to aid others. From passing on coupons you can't use to people who can to sharing your surplus groceries with friends to donating items to shelters and food pantries, there are so many ways to use your savings to help other people. Scoring groceries for pennies or even free makes it that much easier to pass it on to those in need. Even the expired coupons you're tempted to dump in the trash can be helpful - military families living overseas can use them at their base commisaries. Spreading the savings around is a huge high, especially at this time of year.

If you've been using coupons for awhile, you might not find much that's new in The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half. It's a great refresher course, though, and an excellent guide for newbies. Regardless of your saving "style," you should check out this book trailer. It's hard not to be impressed when watching Nelson in action:


(Readalikes: I haven't read a book like this is some time, apparently. But, if you're interested in saving, try Miserly Moms and Frugal Families by Jonni McCoy.)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G

To the FTC, with love: I bought this book with some of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

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