Freebies and shopping around are two ways to cut costs when buying a “few basics” makes you wonder where your money went.

Freebies and shopping around are two ways to cut costs when buying a “few basics” makes you wonder where your money went.

An AARP report estimates the average shopper can trim $1,000 a year off the grocery bill by clipping coupons. Savings can be maximized, according to the Promotion Marketing Association Coupon Council, by picking up those found in stores to supplement those clipped from the newspaper. PMACC said 20 minutes of clipping coupons can trim 20 percent off the weekly grocery bill.

When the average grocery bill has increased 5.7 percent over two years, disciplined buying becomes more equipment, Melissa Gotthardt, writes in “Stop Paying Full Price at the Checkout Line” for AARP. The recommendation is to create an “evergreen” list of items — a master list of weekly purchases such as meat, milk, produce and personal staples. Replenish and add to it weekly.

Sale cycles can be used to calculate trends that take place weekly through approximately 12 weeks. Shopping exclusively for weekly needs may lead to savings on three of 15 major categories, according to By scanning weekly circulars, savings can be realized on cereals, frozen foods and cheese from the load up list. The grocery game Web site says shoppers can stockpile everything from every category in about 12 weeks and “never pay full price.”

Savings can be found on staple goods — produce, meat, bread, milk and items making up the bulk of food budget. These items are found on the store’s outer perimeter. Visiting the perimeter of the store first, can cut spending on pricier prepackaged food items.

Unit price lists posted on shelves tell the shopper if the larger box of cereal is the best bargain. Looking up and down from eye level can reveal a cheaper price on similar items.

Perhaps the most important shopping area is the checkout counter. Costly mistakes can happen at the register. Shopping with a partner can allow one person to check the price of scanned items while the other loads. If there’s a question, don’t leave the store, one expert advised.
Services and costs can also be trimmed with other plans. Senior nutrition centers offer free health check services regularly. Mays Health Care, for instance, visits the Lone Grove senior center to provide blood sugar, blood pressure and pulse checks. Those getting the checks are provided a card to track results.