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The USDA says a thrifty family of four spends about $130 a week on groceries and a more moderate family of four spends $200 or more. Would you like to spend less? You can slash your spending without going to extremes if you learn coupon clipping, strategic shopping and meal planning.

"I need to save more and I know there's ways out there," said one Stockbridge resident whoattended my free SavingsNation Grocery Strategy workshop in Tucker.

The workshops are taught by dozens of thrifty living writers like myself all across the country. You may know some of them: Erin Chase publishes the5dollardinners.com website and cookbook series, Crystal Collins specializes in natural and organic living atTheThriftyMama.comand Toni Anderson createdTheHappyHousewife.com. Toni is a mom of 7 and an expert on household management and meal planning. Some workshops ask for a small fee for facilities and expenses, others are free while still others ask for a charitable donation. Mine is free butI always love receiving donations for the Atlanta Community Food Bank!

I'm able to teach it at no charge free because the grocery and internet coupon company,Savings.com is providing all theworkbooks and materials. Why? They hope new couponers will usesavings.com as a resource to print coupons, shop online and to share money saving strategies and recipes withthe nationwide savings.comcommunity.

The workshops are being offered in Atlanta, Washington D.C, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Central Florida, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and several other cities.

What will you learn? First of all, beginning couponing: the rules, how to organize and when and where to use coupons to maximize your savings.At my recentLilburn workshop I was surprised tosee howattendees didn't know about the free internet toolsand appsthat exist.

Couponing is only part of the equation, though! The Savings Nation workshop stresses smart shopping strategies, such as avoiding impulse purchases and scoring the lowest deals at the meat counter. It also teaches effective planning.Even if you're not a planner, you can cook once and eat three or fourmeals at a timeusing batch cooking and freezing methods and stretching your leftovers.

My next Coupon Clipping and Meal Planning Workshop is on June 27th at Kroger, 10945 State Bridge Road, Alpharetta.To register click here.

If you'd like to request a smart grocery shopping class for your group, you can cantact vhoff@11alive.com or leave a post onValerie Hoff Ways to Save on Facebook.

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