Image: Close-up of a person using a calculator in a supermarket © George Doyle, Stockbyte, Getty Images

Aside from couponing, there are many different ways to save money on your grocery bill -- if only you knew the ins and outs of your favorite store's policies and promotions. And how do you find that out?

"Just ask your store manager, who will happily tell you how to save the most at their store," says Annette Economides, a co-author of "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half With America's Cheapest Family."

One out of three Americans (34%) reported being unlikely to settle for paying retail prices, according to RetailMeNot's third annual coupon behavior survey. These survey respondents said they'll go to a different store or wait for markdowns rather than pay full price.

"Nobody's advocating that you drive all over town to take advantage of every coupon, ad or reward program," says Ellie Kay, a family finance expert. "The trick is finding the ones that are right for your shopping and spending style."

Grocery store managers, who preferred to be anonymous, offered tips and tricks on how to score the best values in their stores.

Know your store's coupon policies

Successful couponers know to look on a store's website for the printable coupon policy to help them get the best deals. For example, Kroger, Giant, Safeway and Acme Markets stores double or triple coupon face values in some states, usually on specific days and up to specific limits. For example, on a double coupon day, a 75 cents off coupon would be worth $1.50 off (most stores generally allow doubling of only coupons worth less than a dollar).

Kroger will waive the expiration date of coupons for military families living on bases. Publix and Target allow coupon stacking (using a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon); Wal-Mart does not. But Wal-Mart will apply any coupon overage (when savings are more than the final product cost) to your total grocery bill, while most other stores won't. Costco accepts no manufacturer coupons whatsoever, while Publix will honor certain competitors' coupons, depending on your store location, and Target honors no competing stores' coupons. Coupon policies change often, so make it a habit to check your store's policy.

Ask your store manager:

  • Is there a grace period on coupon expiration dates?
  • Do you double or triple coupon face values?
  • Can I stack coupons at your store?
  • Do you have mobile coupons for my cellphone?
  • How do you apply coupon overages?
  • Do you match or accept other stores' coupons?

Use the store's loyalty programs

Now more than ever, stores are trying to attract you with special rewards for shopping at their stores, but not all stores have these programs. At CVS, you can earn Extra Bucks (cash built up on your Extra Care rewards card) for qualifying purchases for use as cash off your next purchase. There's even a coupon machine in front of every store where Extra Care cardholders can scan their cards and get unadvertised coupons (up to four at a time).

At Costco, an executive membership earns 2% cash-back rewards (up to $500 per year) on Costco purchases. At Winn-Dixie, if you don't scan your rewards card, all prices ring up at full price. It pays to know the ins and outs of each system, so you can take advantage of it, says Economides.

Ask your store manager:

  • Do you have a loyalty program?
  • Do you give cash-back rewards?
  • Does it provide additional savings on future purchases?
  • How do I use it?
  • Can these savings be combined with other manufacturer or store coupons?

Stock up at outlets and closeouts

These stores have a lot to offer, says Economides, especially when they sell a brand-name item you eat or use regularly. For example, Big Lots closeout stores provide an outlet for Pepperidge Farm, so if you love that brand, it pays to find out what day the truck arrives to take advantage of its products. If these stores offer a deal on items you regularly use, you should snatch up as many as you can afford and stockpile them, says Economides. "Watch out, though, because some manufacturers will provide these outlets with a smaller size to sell for cheaper, so know your regular sizes and prices before buying." She also says these stores typically do not accept coupons of any type -- another reason to know your prices.

Ask your store manager:

  • When does the (brand) truck come each week?
  • Do you always carry (name brand)?
  • Do you accept any coupons?
  • Do you have a loyalty program?

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