Save cash without coupons at grocery stores

HOUSTON We found huge savings by just changing shopping habits as simple as what time you shop or where to look. And the best part, no coupon is clipping needed.

Being on a fixed income requires Geraldine Prioli and her husband to hunt for bargains.

She found a package of brisket for half off.

"I saw this on special, and I thought this was a good buy," Prioli said. "It's priced at $4.49."

So where can you find the deals?

Our very own Super Saver Erin Libranda has the answers.

Insider Tip #1: Look for the manager's specials or clearance sections in the stores.

"When items are getting close to the expiration date -- not actually expired, but just getting close up on that date -- they have an overstock, they will mark those down drastically 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent," Libranda said.

You will usually find markdowns in the perishable departments like produce, meat and seafood department, bakery and the dairy aisle.

At Kroger, we found salad bags for 50 percent off and a gallon of milk for $2.50. And if you are wondering when the milk expires, it's not for another 7 days.

Insider Tip #2: Know when to shop.

For the newest markdowns, shop in the morning.

"For instance, in our meat department, our meat clerks go in those cases every morning at 9 o'clock," Kroger employee Rebecca King said.

If your store is open 24 hours -- with the exception of the meat and bakery department -- most markdowns are done during the overnight hours.

Insider Tip #3: It's OK to haggle at the grocery store.

"I have gone to managers and said, 'Hey, you know this is going to expire today,' or, 'It only has one more day,' you know, 'Can you knock something off?' and most of the times, they will," Libranda said.

And King agrees.

"If you come across a product in our stores that is short dated, certainly ask," King said. "We are gonna do what's right for the customer"

Another time to negotiate is right before certain departments close for the night.

Many times department managers will give you a better deal if they have an overstock of a product - but you have to ask!

"They are here to be of service to you, and so you have to ask questions if you want them," King said.

Insider tip #4: Don't forget to ask for a price match. While the big three grocery stores won't match a lower price somewhere else, Wal-Mart and now Target will! Don't forget to take your ad when shopping there.

"Instead of going to five different stores separately, you can get it all done at once, still use your coupons and you are still saving money that way," Libranda said.

Insider Tip #5: If you see a great deal at the store that's out of stock, ask the manager whether more stock will be ordered during the sale or if you can get a rain check.


Additional tips for individual grocery stores:


Clearance sections are usually located in the back of the store. Markdowns usually include overstocked items and seasonal sales. Markdowns vary depending on the department.


Shop after 9am for the newest markdowns. Most markdowns are taken in the overnight hours, but the meat and bakery department take their markdowns just after their department opens. In addition, anyone 59 years of age and older is eligible for a 10-percent discount on any Kroger products.


The store has a new line called Value Red. It's the consumer value brand line of items that contains everyday basics, such as paper towels and disposable tableware, at prices for those on a tight budget. Items at Randalls are marked down at various times. Check with your store manager to find out when markdowns take place.


Check the end of the aisle for items that are 15 percent, 30 percent and 50 percent off. The meat department puts their meat on sale at 8am You will see a coupon on top of the package. Additionally, Target will price match.


Meat is marked down in the morning around 7am, so shop early to get the best deal because it doesn't last long. Wal-Mart also has a clearance section that is normally located near the dairy section. There, you can find bakery items, tortillas and even cleaning supplies. Wal-Mart also price matches.

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