When I tell people I write a column about living frugally, they automatically assume I am a huge coupon fanatic.

When I tell people I write a column about living frugally, they automatically assume I am a huge coupon fanatic.

While I do coupon and have gotten free products, I find that coupons are not always what they are cracked up to be when it comes to saving money.

It is extremely important when shopping with coupons to price compare. I find that a lot of times coupons are offered for more expensive items and that even with a coupon, the product is still more expensive than similar products on the shelves.
When trying to save money at the grocery store, there are a few tips I like to offer up to save on your grocery bill.

When trying to save money, it is important to know your area stores. There are about four grocery stores that I shop at faithfully in Leavenworth. I know the stores well. I know when their sales circulars come out and check their circulars faithfully. I know what grocery stores offer military discounts and on what days they are offered. I know what the store prices are on products I shop for the most. From there, I plot out my grocery list and plan my trips. I try not to make special trips in an effort to save on gasoline.
For example, one of my favorite grocery stores in Leavenworth offers a military discount on Monday through Wednesday. I receive their sales circular in the mail on Tuesday. You will typically find me shopping on Wednesday at their store. I not only get the sales prices, I receive a military discount and can add coupons to further the deal. I rarely walk out of the store without saving a minimum of 50 percent or more off of my bill.

Another important thing to remember is to buy generic. I love shopping at one store in Lansing that sells predominately generic items. At this store, I can spend $1 for large bags of generic potato chips, spend a little over a $1 on cereal and less than a $1 for a loaf of bread. It tastes just as good as the expensive brands and even with coupons I typically do not find these type of savings at other stores. I feel like when I shop at this store that I come out with a cart full for a fraction of the cost.

I am not saying coupons are not worth your effort. For those looking for coupons on the internet, www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, and www.redplum.com are some of my favorite sites to get coupons. Typically the largest push for coupons is at the beginning of every month. There are also several sites on the internet that will match up coupons with store sales.
However, do not think that coupons are the end all for saving money. I find I save far more money knowing my stores and buying generic.

Stephanie Eaton Harvie is teaching a frugal living class at the Leavenworth Center of the Kansas City Community College. Do you have any frugal tips or questions? Email them to her at localnews2005 @yahoo.com.