Michael Podolsky
Michael Podolsky
CEO and Co-Founder of PissedConsumer.com

For the past months, the prices for groceries and gas have skyrocketed. Thus, setting up your budget is essential to achieving your financial goals. How do you save money when the prices at stores change rapidly?

The hard work of saving money starts at home. Getting to the store is the easy part.

PissedConsumer spoke with Krys the Maximizer, who works as a coach to help customers to be intentional with their money and reach their financial goals. In this video, she shares her experience about how to set your budget and plan grocery shopping to save money and avoid impulse purchases.

Here are the points discussed in the video interview with our money-saving expert.

How to Save Money?

Krystal: My name is Krystal aka, Krys the Maximizer. I am a money savings coach, and I have been couponing for over 14 years. My current business is to help women be more intentional with their money so that they can make progress on their big financial goals.

I help them create money, saving plans, and strategies around couponing, budgeting, meal planning, and strategic shopping. I've been doing this full-time since November 2019.

Michael: In 2020, COVID–19 came in, a lot of people lost their jobs, and markets went down. Now we have large inflation, the economy is in its downturn today.

What kind of advice would you give to consumers to save money?

Krystal: My answer is usually not an answer most people like to hear, but it's all in your budget. I have people freaking out that things cost more. If you have a sound budget and you have a sound money-saving strategy, holistically, inflation will hit you, but it won't hit you as hard.

I'm still not paying full price for toothpaste, cereal, or laundry soap. Is it 50 cents more than what I used to pay? Yes, but it's not me paying full price for it.

The advice is you need to set a budget and force yourself to stay under it.

That may mean going grocery shopping at one store, but I never suggest that. One store is not going to allow you to save money as you want and stay under your budget. I'm also not telling you to go to 10 stores. I'm suggesting you have a good conglomerate of three to five stores.

It doesn't mean you go to those stores every week. It means when the things that you need are on sale at your local grocery store, you go there. When the things that you need are on sale at Sam's Club or BJ's, then you go there. Maybe, within that month, you've gone to six stores, but you're not going to six stores every week. You have to have a sound budget and you have to have a strategy for shopping.

How to Prepare for Grocery Shopping?

Michael: How time-consuming is this strategy to save money? How many hours a person that does the shopping for the family would need in a month to be able to keep the strategy going?

Krystal: I would say if you're shopping weekly, one to two hours max per week, it is what you need. That includes your meal planning. Deciding what your family's going to eat, and what store you're going to shop at should only take you one to two hours per week. Then you go and shop.

Michael: If someone is feeling that they need to start saving money, couponing is probably a good option. How should the person start to do that?

Krystal: You should start by looking at your past three months of shopping history. Where have you been spending your money? What have you been spending it on when it comes to groceries and household items?

That will give you an accurate depiction of where to start your budget. Because if you and your family have been spending $700 per month setting a $300 budget is probably going to be unrealistic for you. And vice versa. You set a budget of $700 and you've only been averaging 350 a month. That's a waste. Now you're just spending to spend.

First, you need to look at how much you're spending, and then you have to decide, is this the amount that I want to continue spending, or do you want to cut it? If you want to cut it, cut by 30%.

That's when you start your strategy, which will look like what stores are in your area and what things you need.

You should always have a list of things that you need for your family and then buy those things. That way, when you are looking at the stores, when you're looking at the ads, you can see like, "Okay, we are getting low on paper towels and trash bags. That should be at the top of our list." Or, "Our spices cabinet needs to be refilled."

Which App to Use for Budgeting and Grocery Shopping?

Michael: Are there any good apps you would recommend that would help with budgeting and shopping lists?

Krystal: Honestly, I do not use any apps for budgeting. I use a good old pen and paper for it but it also depends on the type of budgeter that you are. There are apps like EveryDollar and You Need a Budget. You can use those apps if you're a digital person.

You can use an old-school Excel spreadsheet to put all your income and expenses. When it comes to saving money, you should be downloading the apps for any stores that you're shopping at. I don't care if it's ALTA, Sephora, or if you're buying tires. If that store has an app, you need to download the store app.

You need to create a free rewards account. You need to see if they have coupons. As far as rebate apps, I use Fluz, Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, Shopkick, and Coupons.com apps. There are a lot of different apps, and I have tutorial videos of all of those on my YouTube channel. But those are apps that you use in conjunction with the store apps.

Michael: Thank you. Tell me a little bit about your YouTube channel. What goals are you pursuing in running it?

Krystal: Well, if I'm being honest with you right now, I use my YouTube channel as my long-form content. I have a lot of tutorial videos on there. I have a lot of shopping strategy videos over there. So I use it as a reference. It's like my library, my bank of content, where I refer people to. My main two forms of content right now are my social media, TikTok, and my podcast. I have a podcast called Couponing with Krys the Maximizer and I share weekly tips.

Michael: Does budgeting require you to switch brands?

Krystal: No, you can have brand loyalties, but you just have to have them within your budget. My husband only likes Dial® body wash and Degree Deodorant. When Target has the Degree deal, I buy enough for six months. I can get four of the twin packs, which will last him for six months, but I'm not paying full price and getting a gift card back.

I do that deal twice a year for him. If there are any at Walgreens or CVS, I'll also grab them for the shelf, but I'll do that for four pack twin pack. So, that's eight containers. That will last him for six months. Do that twice a year.

You have to find a way how you can get the things that you’re brand loyal to without paying full price.

It's okay to have brand loyalties. When there's a deal at a store, a coupon, or a promotion, if you earn a gift card from a rebate app, use that gift card to buy your brand loyal items that you may not have coupons for.

How to Avoid Impulse Shopping?

Michael: What's your recommendation about avoiding impulse shopping, and buying things that you don't need?

Krystal: First, you have to always shop with a list. It has to be on the list, and you have to know how much the things are going to cost you, and you have to set your budget. I encourage my clients, that if you are new to budgeting, you're new to trying not to overspend. You need to take that money out in cash, or you need to put it on a prepaid debit card or something that's going to decline if you go over.

If your grocery budget for the week is $100, give yourself 20% for a cushion. So bring $120 to the grocery store. You have your list. Maybe your list of items costs $105 plus tax.

If you get anything that's not on that list, you have to either steal or put something back. So you're going to put stuff back…

… because most of us are not going to jail for stealing groceries. You have to be very rigid with yourself in the beginning and train your mind to like, "These are the things that we need. I came to the store to get this. If it's something that I desperately need, I'm going to have to make another trip back, because I don't have the cash right now to afford it."

How to Save Money on Gas?

Michael: Gas is extremely expensive. Are there any strategies to save money on gas?

Krystal: Well, if you have any gas rewards or credit cards that give you cash back on gas, you can use those. If you have any memberships like BJ's and even the Walmart membership, Sam's Club, they offer you discounted gas. There are programs like Shell rewards, where when you sign up with it, they give you a certain amount of cents off of your gas.

There's a rebate app called Upside that you can use and they will give you cash back on your gas. You can also purchase gift cards for gas at a discounted rate in the app, Fluz. You'll earn cash back and then you can use that gift card to buy your gas. A lot of that will include getting cash back and then using that cash back on things that you need. Again…

…it's all about the strategy of how you can use the money that you have and stretch it further.

Michael: How big is the inflation today, as compared to six months ago?

Krystal: I don't know about percentages, but I've seen most things go up by at least $1, to a $1.50, of what it used to be. If something used to be $4, it's around $5 or $5,50 now. It just depends on the item. Some things have stayed the same and some things have gone up.

I don't try to stress over like, "Oh my gosh, this is so much higher." I stress over like, "Okay, how can I be strategic about getting what I need? How can I be strategic about maximizing my dollars? What gift cards do I have? What coupons are available? When is this item going on sale? Do I have a coupon so that I can get the lowest price possible?"

How to Know the Lowest Price on the Market?

Michael: Prices went up. You come to the store expecting to pay $4, but now it's $5,50. How do you know that $5,50 is now the lowest price?

Krystal: For most of my shopping, I know how much things cost before I go to the store because I'm looking online. I'm never just walking into a store not knowing what I'm going to buy. You have to be informed. That's why that one to two hours per week of preparation is essential.

Even if I have to walk my grocery store and take pictures of the sections of the things that I like to buy for my family, I will do that. Take pictures, and then come home and decide like, "The meats are this price, and this is this price." Then you put that together on your list.

There are no surprises for me because I'm spending one to two hours looking online and I'm comparing Walmart to Target, Publix, and the Dollar Store. I'm doing that at home, in my one to two hours. That's how I'm able to tell you that Scott's toilet paper is the cheapest at Walgreens. When they have their promotion and we have a manufacture coupon because I've done the research.

You should know the prices and your budget before you go into the store.

I know how much it is per roll. I have a list at my house of how much it is per role at BJ's, versus Walmart, versus Walgreens. Walgreens is still the cheapest. Even with a little bit of inflation, that toilet paper is still the same price. You have to do the work at home. The hard work of saving money starts at home. Getting to the store is the easy part.

Can You Coupon Online?

Michael: Does couponing work with online shopping?

Krystal: Amazon has coupons and deals. If you subscribe, there's a section in your Amazon account that says, "Amazon coupons." You can save, but online couponing is not the same as traditional, "I have a paper coupon, or digital coupon to use at CVS." It's more about like a discount code, free shipping, or cash back. It's not straight-up couponing.

Michael: Please explain the difference.

Krystal: When you go into a store, if you're getting this lip gloss, you may have a coupon from the inserts, or you may have printed a coupon that will give you $3 off of this. If the coupon is on paper, it won't work online.

Amazon doesn't take manufacture coupons. You can only use coupons from Amazon on Amazon. Whereas I can buy Revlon at ALTA, at Walmart, or at Target. If I have that manufacture coupon, it works at those stores. Whereas, online you're at the mercy of like, "Amazon's doing 10% off this item today, buy it now."

Or they're having Amazon Prime day and they're slashing their prices by 30%. Online couponing, online saving money is possible, but it's not in the same mindset as going into a store, handing over a coupon, or using your store app to get those digital coupons.

What Are the Best Stores for Money Saving Shopping?

Michael: Very often stores put on sale groceries and foods that are about to expire. It could be dangerous depending on how long it stays at home. Is there any advice on that?

Krystal: I am the person who buys the meat that's 24 to 48 hours away from expiration and I freeze it. Buy it at your own risk, but I wouldn't buy produce or anything but meats definitely, because I know within 48 hours of you taking it home, as long as you put it in the freezer, it'll be okay. If you let it sit in your fridge for five days then it's not. Personally, I will buy it and I will freeze it.

Michael: What is a good grocery store membership? What grocery stores do you go to?

Krystal: There are no grocery store memberships. They have rewards programs, but I don't know if any grocery stores where you have to pay to be a part of their club, or what have you. I do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart, BJ's, Publix, and sometimes at Target, but Walmart is the lowest threshold for me.

I compare all my prices to Walmart. I don't go to chains except for Publix. When I am in Maryland, we go to Giant, sometimes Safeway, or Food Lion, but there isn't one status quo.

The best grocery store for you to go to is the one that's going to give you and your family the lowest price possible

… because if you're in Nebraska and I'm in Utah and someone's in California, that's going to look different.

When it comes to the strategy, you've got to do the math and say, "All right, this lip gloss is $10 at CVS, it's $7 at Walmart, it's $8 at Target and it's $9 at ALTA. I'm going to get it from Walmart." Or, "I'm going to get it from CVS. When I have a $5 coupon and it makes it $5."

You have to do your own individual research. If your family loves orange juice of a specific brand, you've got to look online to see where is the lowest price for this orange juice. Yes, I have my favorites, but they are going to be completely different from someone who lives in a completely different state.

Michael: How often do you buy items, that are not on sale?

Krystal: There are very few things in this world that I pay full price for. Those are experiences, beauty care, getting my nails done, or wax or something. But even still, I try to find some sort of promotion or discount, but very rarely do I buy something at full price.

What Are Top Grocery Shopping Hacks?

Michael: Is there anything you would like to add for the customers?

Krystal: Always buy what you need. Have a list of the things that you need. Set your budget before you leave the house. I don't care if you're buying food clothes, or a car, decide how much money you want to spend before you leave the house, and stay true to your guns. What I teach my clients is to focus on our big financial goals.

If your big financial goal is to invest a thousand dollars in the stock market, does going out and spending an extra $20-40 every time you grocery shop, get you closer to your investment goal or further away? If your financial goals are set high, impulse shopping and spending the extra $20-30 every time are going to add up. You could have reached your financial goal months ago, had you just been focused.

So stay focused on what you need. Set that budget and ask yourself, “Does this get me closer to my goal or further away?”

Michael: Krys, thank you very much!

Do you prepare for grocery shopping at home, or are you an impulsive buyer? Please share your experience in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow updates on experts’ videos and consumer video reviews.

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