The Bookworm Sez 1-11-10 |

The Bookworm Sez 1-11-10

For about a year now, you’ve tightened your belt, hard. You’ve stretched your pennies til Abe screams. But careful personal tracking has shown that there’s room for financial improvement.

Take, for instance, your grocery bill – it’s taking up a good chunk of your household budget. You can live without vices and other cash-wasters, but eating is a habit you’ll never break. Yet, just like you’ve slashed other expenses, there’s got to be a way to save at the supermarket.

A good place to start is by reading “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half” by Stephanie Nelson. With this book in-hand, and a pair of scissors, you’ll bag a surprising amount of savings.

Even in a down economy, your time is worth something, right? So how would you like to make $400 an hour? Author Stephanie Nelson says it’s possible. With just 15 minutes of effort, you can save $100 a week or more on your family’s food bill. But it’s going to take some groundwork.

First, Nelson says, know what kind of shopper you are. Busy Shoppers barely have time to get to the store, much less plan. With this book, Busy Shoppers will learn to save up to 25 percent off their food bills.

Rookie Shoppers are interested in saving, and have a little more time to spare. More planning time means Rookies can save up to 50 percent on their grocery trips.

Varsity Shoppers are the coupon world’s go-getters – they know how to use coupons and other methods to save on groceries. This book will fine-tune those skills and add others to the cash-off equation, for savings of up to 70 percent.

Next, learn to efficiently track sales of your most-purchased items. As you’re tracking, ask about your favorite store’s policies on coupon redemption. Find out how to combine coupons, double your discounts and get free full-size products. Become a member of your store’s Shoppers Club. Never throw away coupon fliers, even if they’re not useful today. Sign up for helpful Web sites like or visit corporate Web sites often.

And really … never, ever shop on an empty stomach.

Although a lot of what you’ll find in “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half” is common-sense stuff your Mama should’ve told you, I liked this book.

I tried a few things author Stephanie Nelson mentioned – shopping at a drugstore instead of a grocery store, for one – and I did save money. But there were things that weren’t fully addressed in this book; mainly, what to slash when there is no major chain store nearby and no double discount days. Much of Nelson’s strategy assumes that stores’ policies are alike around the country, which is, alas, not usually the case.

Even so, I think this book (which includes helpful resources and dollar-stretching recipes) can teach shoppers to think differently when it comes to turning pennies-off coupons into dollar bills. For under $20 – definitely not a budget-buster – “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half” just makes cents.

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