Welcome to How I Save Money. Today we have a guest post from PassiveFamilyIncome who has been so gracious to write for me while I am off taking care of my mother.

As oil and commodity (wheat, soy beans, corn, etc.) prices continue to soar in our global economy, many people are starting to feel a financial pinch from every direction. Higher prices at the gas pump, coupled with rising food prices has caused a tightening effect on personal budgets.

In order to make ends meet, many people have been forced to cut back any way they can. There has been a flurry of posts recently on several personal finance blogs on ways to save money on gas. Today, I would like to take a different approach and discuss ways to deal with rising gas prices as it impacts your grocery budget.

The following list includes a few items that my family is taking this summer to help reduce or limit our grocery expenses –

  • Coupons – The most obvious and common tip around. I recently started buying the Sunday paper for $1.50 just to get the coupons that are included. There are also tons of online coupons available and even some websites that will help you combine coupons with sales to get the lowest price available or even FREE . Just go to Google and do a search on "coupons" to get a good list of resources. I also suggest looking for local grocers who double and triple coupons.
  • Shop special deals – Stores like CVS offer great deals on items with their Extra Bucks promotion. You can often find Free items or even get paid for items if you combine the Extra Bucks promotion with a coupon. Walgreens, Rite Aid, and some other stores offer similar promotions.
  • Buy Store Brands – This is something my wife and I have been doing for years. We buy the store and generic brands to save on money. Often times, when you don’t have a coupon, buying the cheaper store brand will help save money. There are many great deals out there on generic and store brands if you look. For example, I just purchased three 1.75 quart containers of store brand ice cream for $4.99 . The sale was Buy One Get 2 Free! . The name brand equivalent was selling two 1.50 quart containers of the same flavors for $5.99 . I did not even hesitate in picking up the better deal.
  • Make fewer trips to the store – My wife and I shop at least 4 different stores per week to get the best deals available. While this helps us save money, it is also becoming a concern in the amount of money we spend on gas to get to the store. Recently, I have been stopping on my way home from work which may be a mile or two out of the way instead of a 5+ mile trip to one or more of the stores. Combining your trips to the grocery store with other activities and errands will also go a long way in conserving gas.
  • Buy Local – Purchasing locally grown produce not only helps the local economy, it also has the possibility of being cheaper as well. Gas prices are not as much of an impact on local grower’s who sell their products at farmer’s markets or even grocery stores in your area. Just in the past week I have found Jumbo Cantaloupe for .99 cents and huge watermelons for $3.79 at the nearby grocer who is now selling local products that are in season. A few weeks back (before the growing season started in my area), these same items were $2.99 and $7.99 respectively.
  • Start a Garden – While it may be a little too late to start a garden in your area, this is one option that many people I have spoken with are taking. Growing your own vegetables could help in reducing the amount you are paying at stores. One thought is to swap produce from your garden with friends and neighbors who may have an over abundance of one item throughout the growing season. My 4-year old son and I actually started a garden for the first time this year by planting Cantaloupe and Watermelon. This is a great activity to do with your kids as it helps them learn about nature and it is fun!

What other ways are you reducing or at least maintaining your local grocery spending? What types of sources do you use to collect coupons?

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(Remember to enter the drawing for a FREE Gas card from How I Save Money to lower YOUR gas bill in July.)