July 09, 2010 09:00 AM

Courtesy of Aviva Publishing

Groceries aren’t cheap, but they’re a necessity.

However, self-proclaimed “Krazy Coupon Ladies” and co-authors of Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler say it’s possible to save up to $10,000 a year on household items — you just have to be smart about shopping and saving.

“We really taught ourselves. We wanted to create a stockpile of food for our families, but didn’t have the money in our budgets to do it,” Demer tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. “Heather had an aunt who was using coupons in a kind of crazy way, so we started trying that ourselves.”

In one shopping trip alone, both Demer and Wheeler, stay-at-home moms, saved about $700 each on their total bills. “The stars aligned,” Wheeler says.

So how can you save big on groceries? Here are some tips from the experts:

Use the Internet. Aside from store and company websites, “the hot way to distribute coupons right now is Facebook,” Demer says. “If you ‘like’ a manufacturer’s Facebook page, you get access to high-value coupons and nearly-free products.” Adds Wheeler, “Lots of stores, like JCPenney, are also sending e-coupons to phones, via text message.”

Stack your savings. “When something goes on sale, we can match an existing coupon with any in-store promotion, and create an item that’s 70 to 80 percent off,” Demer says.

The general rule is not to buy something just because you have a coupon, but instead, smartly use coupons for products you buy. “People think they don’t purchase things they often see coupons for, to which we always say, ‘Do you not use shampoo, or toilet paper, or toothpaste?’ ” Demer jokes.

Stockpile when prices are low. If you’re able to stack your savings, buy as many of the product as you can. “When we can get a price down to 75 percent or more off, we’ll stock up,” Demer explains. “That goes for toiletries, home goods and any non-perishable foods. Just create a little space in your closet, and stack things there. There’s a lot of savings potential there, even with minimal space.”

Don’t necessarily buy generic. “I used to think it was cheaper to buy generic,” Wheeler says. “But if you find an item on same and find a coupon for it, you’re paying less than the generic price for a name-brand item.”

Demer says diapers, generally seen as a great expense, can get more affordable, too. “I was going to get generic, then I started couponing. By stacking my coupons with store sale prices, I paid less than half the retail price for Pampers,” she shares. “We encourage expecting moms in their second trimester to check out our website and book, and start shopping. They can get diapers at up to 70 percent off if they shop right, and have a years’ supply by the time their child is born.”

Get organized. Both Demer and Wheeler have binders filled with coupons they’ve printed from the Internet and clipped from newspapers. “We joke that when we go shopping, we have a baby on one hip and a binder on the other, and they weigh the same,” says Demer. “So if you have the time to create a binder, filled with coupons from the past three months, it’s a great tool.”

Busy moms can take just 10 minutes a day or week, download a few coupons from the Krazy Coupon Lady site and other webpages, and instantly save big bucks. “But if you build a binder, shop multiple stores and stockpile, you can save nearly $1,000 a month,” Demer says. “We’re talking five hours a week of work, though.”

Plan ahead. “Anticipate the purchases you need to make,” Wheeler says. “For instance, swim diapers. I buy them in the fall when they go on clearance for about $4, and if I find a $2 coupon, I’m getting them for $2 instead of $10.” The same can go for kids’ clothing too, when the seasons are changing, or even school supplies, if purchased during the year and not just before classes start.

Though it sounds like a lot of work, with a little patience and some resourceful thinking, any busy mom (or dad) can save big on the bills. Says Demer, “Everybody’s got something better to do with their money than give it to the grocery store.”

— Kate Hogan


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