GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With Thanksgiving just around the corner, if you haven't already, you'll be one of many shoppers heading to the store to pick up your Thanksgiving groceries.
Before you walk down an aisle and start filling your cart, we caught up with a local couponer to find out how you can maximize your savings at the register, not only for Thanksgiving, but also anytime you shop for food.
Troylynn Harvey is one busy stay at home mom and wife. She makes sure her family of five has everything it needs from the grocery store on just $60 a month.
"I coupon. I have three girls. It gets expensive. My husband was like, 'Well, hey. Whatever you want to do is fine with me as long as the house is clean when I get home and dinner is cooked,'" Harvey said.
Two years ago, Harvey began couponing. The first time she saved big was a feeling she'll never forget.
"It's unexplainable. It felt so good. When I got in the car, I called my husband. I said, 'Babe, I saved all this money, and I got a trunk load of stuff.' He said, 'Are you serious?' I said, 'Babe yeah. You need to come home, because I can't get all this out the car,'" said Harvey.
What started out as a hobby became something that helps her family save thousands of dollars a year.
"Most people, they want you to show them, because they don't believe you," Harvey said.
Inside her den at home are shelves of organized dry food, cleaning supplies and toiletries. She said there isn't an item on her shelves that she paid more than $1 for, and some items she picked up by only paying sales tax.
"Noodles was on sale two for $1, but I had the coupon two for a dollar, which is the same sale as the store. So, it made it free. I only paid the seven cents sales tax," said Harvey. "The Tide Pods was a little bit under $1 also at CVS with my 20 percent off or $5 or something like that."
Harvey says she dedicates about 10 hours a week to couponing, and usually spends under $20 a trip.
Let's face it. Not everyone has that kind of time, and some don't mind spending a little more than $20. Her money saving practices are simple:
- Collect and/or order lots of coupons, and don't use them until the items go on sale.
- Research which stores have the best deals.
- Know the store's coupon policy.
- Make a list before you shop.
"I plan my meals. At least, I try to plan meals Monday through Friday. I don't impulse shop just because it's on sale. I don't buy it, and I never go into a store hungry, because the end caps, everything looks good and everything smells good if they have a deli in the store," Harvey explained.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is about $50. WLOX decided to put Troylynn to the test. She says she can do better than that.
Because we only visited one store during the shopping trip, Troylynn said it would be harder to save big at the register, but not impossible.
"Here we go. 79 cents each, but with the coupon, make them 98 cents for two," said Troylynn while she shopped at Rouses in Gulfport.
Our shopping continues with the rest of our Thanksgiving meal all found on sale, with coupons or both. Cake mix, instant mashed potatoes, crust for a sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce and of course, a turkey. Troylynn found this one for $14.64.
"The biscuits right here are on sale 10 for 10. I have a coupon for 30 cents off of two, so that means if I buy all 10, all 10 of them will be $6 instead of $10," Harvey said.
After one very organized trip around the store, it was time to check out. Her total was $36.78.
There's no doubt buying Thanksgiving food for the family can be financially straining. Don't resign yourself to overspending. Instead, plan ahead and you'll have the perfect recipe for saving.
Troylynn teaches a class on couponing on Saturdays. Each class is $10. To book a class, email email@example.com