Save thousands on groceries

June 3, 2008 7:38:10 AM PDT
Think you know how to save when it comes to grocery shopping? Well, we've found one of the best, most thrifty shoppers in all of Houston. Erin Libranda is a single working mom of three with a yearly grocery budget of $800. That's about $66 a month. And if you think that's amazing, listen to this -- she's found a way to make the groceries actually pay for themselves.

"I haven't bought paper towels in over two years," said Erin. "I haven't bought toilet paper in about 18 months."

She also has a year supply of laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid and she may never have to buy shampoo again. And in her pantry...

"The rice was all free, the oil was all free," she said.

The single mother of three was living paycheck to paycheck and needed a new strategy to put food on the table.

"I wasn't making more money at work," said Erin.

She turned to couponing instead of just clipping them in the Sunday paper. She expanded her coupon search to the Internet.

HotCouponWorld.com is one of her favorites, where you can print multiples and even trade for your favorites.

Here's another tip -- just type in the name of what you're looking for. For example, I'm looking for diapers. And up pops the list of coupons for diapers.

We wanted to see exactly how her system works. Our first stop was Target. Before coupons, Erin's milk cost $16.74. But after using six coupons, the milk cost 54 cents a carton. She also picks up six pouches of coffee at 99 cents each and because Erin has 6 99 cents off coupons, the coffee was free!

She combined both manufacturer coupons and target coupons for her other things. Her total for 19 items was $5.72.

"I want to get as close to the price as possible," she said.

At Kroger, Erin buys Whisk detergent. It's normally $6.29, but it's on sale with your Kroger card for $3.49, then Erin combines a store coupon for $1.50 off with a manufacturer coupon for another $1.50 off.

"So this is only going to cost me 49 cents for 32 loads of Whisk," announced Erin.

Next, Erin picks up beef hot dogs. One package costs $4.49 but they're buy one, get one free. Since she has a coupon for three dollars off any beef product, two packages of hot dogs will cost $1.49.

Another Erin insider strategy -- look for special offer items. These frozen chicken breasts are normally $6.99, but Erin has a $2 off coupon. Combine that with a rebate offer just for trying the product, Erin will actually make two bucks.

We check out with 46 products. Before coupons the total is 97.91. But how much do we walk away paying?

"$5.06," read the store clerk.

It's an amazing saving and Erin's system was not as complicated as I thought it would be. Anyone can do it, but I know a lot of you may have questions. Se we asked Erin to come to the Channel 13 studios to take your questions and communicate live with you via the web. Here's a transcript of that chat. And for more great money saving ideas, check out Erin's blog.

And if you want to share with us your money-saving secrets, we want to hear from you!

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