How I Save Nearly $1 per Gallon of Gas.
Shop These Grocery Stores and Get Gas.
I don't like to give my money to other people. It takes too many long hours at work to earn those dollars, so why give them away easily? I have always looked for sales, coupons, or good deals. I have been clipping grocery coupons off and on for the last few years. For me, serious couponing began when the economy problems hit our personal budget hard. I do not believe what I do is extreme couponing. Nor is there a room in my home stocked with an excess of non-perishable items. I have never purchased hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for only $20. But, I am excited to inform you, I am able to save 70 to 90 cents per gallon of gas through the use of grocery coupons. I'm able to do this several times a month. Because my partner drives a full sized pickup for work, and I drive a Jeep for love and fun, I am always happy to buy less expensive gas. I am here to share with you my not-so-secret secret.
Free Gas - Gas station discounts using grocery store promotions.
Do you coupon for cheaper gas?
Pretty Coupon Wallets - Purse to Cart style
Keep your coupons in your purse. Then attach them to the cart for ease. One way to always remember to have your coupons on shopping day. One of the challenges for me has been to remember everything for every shopping trips. Reusable grocery bags. Check. Store discount card. Check. Current coupons I intend to use. Check. I have found that the best way to train myself to remember my coupons is to use an envelope that can fold and be slipped into my pocket (I do not carry a purse generally). Now that I am accustomed to using coupons during each shopping trip, perhaps I could remember to carry a coupon wallet. The next problem would be deciding which pretty wallet to choose.
Seriously, I save money on gas while buying groceries.
Sharing our couponing habits.
During a recent slow period at work, one of the ladies was sharing her extreme couponing strategies with the rest of us. She was explaining how to find coupons online and in the local Sunday papers. How she organizes coupons with binders and plastic sleeves. And the best way to use the coupons; including stacking. Finally, Ms. Extreme Couponer spoke of gas points. That was the only area that I was able to add something helpful to the conversation. I hadn't known about stacking coupons. However, I had known about and used gas points.
I chose the gas points program at the Giant food stores in our area. Giant and Shell gas stations are in cahoots with this gas point program. There are other grocery and gas stations that have similar programs. But due to location and convenience, I use Giant and Shell. The things I do to earn gas points would probably be similar with the other programs in your area. You would have to do some research of your own to ensure that you are getting the most savings from that program.
Taking advantage of grocery store fuel programs.
How I save money on groceries and gas:
OBTAIN STORE MEMBER CARD. It is very easy to obtain and important to have with you every time you shop. You can get one from the store customer service desk or request one online with Giant. First of all, if you don't have the card, you miss all of the sales. Secondly, the card is how you collect and use your gas points. I never shop without using my Giant card.
BE AWARE OF PRICES IN GENERAL. I tend to watch the prices of individual items over time at my local groceries. I think Giant's regularly priced items, often, are more pricey than many of the other chains. But when I watch the sales and use coupons for the items on sale, the cost is less. It would make sense that they are more expensive on some items. After all, they have to fund this gas program somehow. And because of this, I try to stay very aware of competitor's prices.
BUY ONLY THE ITEMS NORMALLY USED. When I started clipping coupons, I would often buy items that I didn't want, didn't like after all, didn't need, or shouldn't add to my waistline. I began to notice that sometimes the store brands were still cheaper than the brand names with coupons. Currently, I don't buy items just because I have the coupon or because it's a great sale
FINDING THE COUPONS. After a long period of time, I noticed that the weekly, in-store grocery circular is not always the same as the circular that comes out in the newspaper or the free papers that are delivered willy-nilly at any noticeable mailbox. So, I always find a copy of both circulars for that week. Search them for special gas coupons. I gather the manufacturer coupons from the weekend paper inserts. And I gather printable coupons from internet sites.
ORGANIZING. Oh goodness, how I hate the organizing. Initially I used a little plastic index card file that worked fairly well. And probably works well for many people. But I found that I overlooked some of the coupons I had planned on using when I got to the store. Then I changed to a 3 ring binder with plastic sleeves, such as baseball card holders, to better display each grouping of coupons. And I could see each individual coupon; or at least a large portion of each coupon. That system worked a little better but I didn’t like to carry a 3 ring binder into the store. What works the best for me is to not carry many coupons into the store. Currently, I sort out what coupons I will likely use (by seeing what is on sale this week), putting them into an envelope, and writing on one side of the envelope the specifics of the coupons (i.e. two Brand Name X salad dressings, size 9 oz or larger). Of course I use my own version of short hand to save time. I feel like this system helps keep me on track while shopping.
SPECIAL POINTS OFFERS. As you purchase your items, every 100 dollars of purchases equals 100 points which equals 10 Cents worth of gas savings (per gallon). That doesn't add up as quickly as watching for the special gas offers. Each week there are items that if you purchase a certain amount of items, you earn an extra few hundred of points. For example, buy any 3 of the listed items and earn 400 points. I take advantage of these offers when the listed items include things I normally purchase. Of course, I also try to have a matching coupon for these items so I'm saving while I'mm earning extra points. Total gas points are shown on the end of your store receipt and they roll off after 30 days if unused. Does it sound difficult? It's really not.
SPECIAL GAS POINTS COUPON: Giant publishes coupons in their circular giving you, for example, 300 gas points for purchasing $50 of items. Yes, any combination of items as long as it totals $50 or more. Between the amount of gas points for my total bill, the special points offers, and the special gas coupon of 400 points is how I total 800 to 900 points. These special gas points from this coupon are added to your running total in the system immediately, but do not show up on your receipt at that transaction. Instead, you receive a second "receipt" for these points.
PURCHASING THE GAS. Initially, I was afraid of the actual act using my points at the gas station. But it turned out to be an easy thing. I learned that Shell stations have cheaper gas on Tuesdays. It seems that there is a limit at each fill-up, but the limit is less about the number of points and more about the total gallons. I've used 900 points (90 cents off per gallon!) in one transaction many times. When we filled the truck, during several of our visits, we began to notice that the pump clicks off after a certain number of gallons. But most folks don't have a tank that large. Or drive that far on "E". I don't think most people will get to the shut off point. The jeep has never reached that limit. At the pump, you only need to have your Giant card or know your card I.D number. Then you pump gas in the usual manner.
FINAL THOUGHTS. As I said, I'm not the best at couponing. I'm certainly not a coupon queen. I would recommend diving in and giving it a try, to learn what works best for you. My advice is to get tips from the more seasoned couponers. Whether that is talking to people in person, reading blogs on the 'net, or purchasing books, your investment of time (and possibly dollars) will be worth it.
How the station gave me $11.20 of free gas today.
Just this morning I filled the Jeep tank. I go on Tuesdays. Tuesdays is our local 5 cents off day at the Shell station. That sale brings the price down to the same as neighboring stations (like Giant, I find that Shell is higher priced most days; again, I guess they have to fund the program somehow.). Then I used my gas points by pushing the "gas rewards" button and entering my I.D. number. It's that easy. Then you hit debit or credit button and fill your tank as always. However, this morning, the gas pump didn't read the set price of $3.37 per gallon (local prices being $3.37 to $3.39) It read $2.57. I'm not good at math but I know that 80 cents x 14 gallons (rounded off to make it easier for me) = $11.20 saved today. So I filled up for $37.28 instead of $48.48. As much as I hate pre-planning and grocery shopping, getting these savings definitely make it worthwhile. And, while it sounds confusing, it's really not that bad. Come on, give it a try. If I can do it, so can you. And you can do the happy dance at the pump with me.
My Photo Gallery - (all photos by Dawnraeb)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Some tools to make saving money easier.
The more organized you are with this venture, the better you do. I am only partially organized. My highly organized friends are able to earn even more savings than I do. However, the good news is that if can save these amounts with my hit-and-miss approach, you can save too. Learn about how others get organized and find the way that works for you.
One way to keep your coupons visible and organized.
These "baseball card" sleeves are very helpful.
Some people find these coupon holders very helpful.
Do you coupon?
First Update: - Links listing some participating programs.
I've received some feedback that many people do not have gas rewards programs in their area. So i searched for a few helpful links. I can't stand the thought of folks missing out on this program. These links are for the United States. However, I did see a link for a Canadian gas rewards program also. I sincerely hope that there is a gas rewards program in your area.
Shopping and Saving in the New Neighborhood
It is several months later and I'm adjusting to a move from one neighborhood to another. My grocery store is now slightly farther away. So I attempted to test the theory that I pay more at the store with the gas rewards program. After all, they have to pay for the gas somehow, right? It has to be by increasing the price of the groceries exorbitantly, right? I shopped at a few groceries in my new neighborhood. I found that I spent the same or more than at the gas rewards grocery. With a combination of the meets being more expensive, less variety in their store brands, or no store savings card at all, I seemed as though I paid more. I came home with fewer groceries for sure. So, I will continue to shop at my Giant, buying only the things on sale, using my gas coupons, and buying only the things I know I will use.
Third Update: - I am still focused on my gas. I wish I could remember to take photos or save receipts to show you every time I fill up. But I did remember to tClick thumbnail to view full-size
More helpful tips from people who do it well
- Suzy T's list of awesome printable coupon websites.
I use many of these sites, but I learned about even more resources on this lens.
- Robin Svedi's pretty binder list and awesome list of tips.
Awesome binders and couponing tips. I had no idea there were so many binder choices out there.
- Darla Dixon's wonderful list of supplies and tutorials about organizing.
More couponing tutorials, supplies, and ideas than you could ever imagine.