Shopping Tips & Resources

Grocery Shopping–Money saving tips $$

  • Avoid shopping on an empty stomach  It sounds like silly advice, but on a more serious note, shopping while hungry (if you’re anything like me) sometimes leads to your stomach doing the shopping for you.  You might be a little more likely to buy more food or spend more money than you originally planned.  You may also be more likely to buy more processed and prepackaged foods, as they are more convenient, sometimes do not have to be cooked or even reheated, and can be easily eaten in the car on the way home–Instant gratification (for your stomach that is–not your wallet).  So try to shop with an (almost full) stomach, and a clear head.
  • Buy sale & bulk items— Now this one may sound like obvious advice, but it will definitely take you a long way.  This doesn’t necessarily mean to buy items that you don’t need or use simply because they are on sale–this is counterproductive to the goal to save more, but when the items that you do need or use regularly are on sale, buying them in bulk will actually save money in many cases, especially with non-perishable items and toilet paper, etc.  This will prevent you from having to buy these items until they go on sale again.  For example, the normal price of your favorite pasta sauce might be $1.50/jar, but on sale, this item may be 2 jars for $2.00.  You may think to yourself, “Well, I don’t need 2 jars, I only need one.”  If you were already prepared to spend $1.50 for one jar, an extra $0.50 (as opposed to an extra $1.50) may be well worth it so that you can stock up on this item and not re-purchase until the store has another deal like this one.  However, be smart–if you have doubts as to whether or not you will be able to use extra products before their expiration date, then buy only what you realistically need at that moment, because wastefulness will loose you money as well.
  • Use Coupons! I cannot stress this one enough.  Many people view coupon-clipping as a pastime for the elderly and those on government assistance and tight budgets.  Coupon-clipping is one of the most useful tools for saving big when it comes to shopping because the coupons always add up.   Even small amounts make a difference, so do not underestimate the “$0.15 off” coupon.  Any money saved is money that stays in your pocket.  This does not mean to forgo quality simply to save money.  Practicality is key.  Being frugal and “cheap” are not synonymous.  Frugality is brilliance, and why not try to spend the least amount possible on items that you will have to purchase..well..until you die?!  I started saving coupons about a year ago, shortly after moving up North and seeing a news story about a woman in my area who fed her family of five (and two pets) on about $40/month!  She got involved in “super-couponing” and made it her full time job. A few of her strategies  include coupling coupons with sale items, often resulting in free items, doubling coupons for the same item (using more than one coupon for one item–also sometimes resulting in free items), and buying in bulk.  Since I have started, I have watched grocery totals drop from well over $100 to $70.  There are many resources for couponing–the internet is my main source.  Create an email that you use for just coupons and store deals.  Signing up for newsletters and sometimes taking simple surveys can earn you some great savings.  Visit websites like Coupons.com , and Google search coupons for your favorite items.  It is well worth it!
  • Read your store’s weekly circular & get one of their savings/rewards cards if  they offer it.  Pretty much all stores have weekly circulars that inform customers of the store’s promotions, sales, etc.  They can be viewed online at the store’s website, in the store, or be sent to you via mail or email.  Keeping track of the store’s sales, offers, and coupons will help you better plan your trips around the store’s best deals.  If your store offers some sort of savings or members card, obtaining one of these is a great way to save in addition to coupons–it is almost tantamount to having a bunch of coupons on one card.  Sometimes the amount saved is significant.
  • Shop Alone when possible.  Although family outings are great, and it’s good to get the whole family involved in meal planning and shopping,  sometimes shopping for groceries with the entire family can be a source of frustration when you are committed to buying only what you need.  Having a significant other that does not usually shop or young children who beg for expensive items present can increase the pressure to buy unnecessary or costly items.  Having family discussions about this matter or separate family shopping outings can easily solve this problem while still keeping the whole family involved and valuing their input as well.
  • Shop at more than one store.  The advent of Super Wal-marts was monumental in the world of shopping–shoppers can now make one convenient trip to purchase groceries, produce, furniture, clothes, toiletries, and other household items.  But if you’re like me and Super Wal-mart just isn’t really for you (The Documentary Walmart–high cost of low prices, really opened my eyes), then shopping at multiple stores can sometimes save you more (given these stores are in the same general area, and you do not have to inconvenience yourself by driving large distances)  For example, produce is usually cheaper and of better quality at local farmer’s markets.  Seasonings and spices are sometimes also cheaper at farmer’s and ethnic markets (this is how my mother shops–you can learn alot from your mommy!)  Toiletries and other supplies are also sometimes less expensive bought outside of your primary grocery store.   You have to know your area, the stores around you, and what would be more convenient.
  • Buy less junk “Junk” and processed foods, not only disappear quickly from your cupboards (especially if you have children) but causes money to disappear from your wallet.  Try creating grocery lists before going shopping, and write down what you actually need.  You may be surprised how many unnecessary products you normally buy and consume.  The Chips Ahoy, Doritos, Apple Jacks, Pepsi, Nabisco snacks, and crackers can go–or at least be limited. Spare your wallet and stomach.  These foods are empty calories that are sometimes eaten all in one sitting.  You are actually sometimes being”cheated” out of your money when you buy “junk” foods–ever notice how you could easily pay over $4.00 for a bag of potato chips only to discover its half filled with air?  Nothing wrong with treats every now and again–it’s just better to make sure that they don’t comprise half of the grocery list.
  • Learn to cook.   If you do not already know how to cook, learning to do so is not only a solution to the previous tip, but a great skill to acquire that helps with self-sufficiency as well as frugality.  People who do not know how to cook or simply lack the time tend to purchase more prepackaged foods or eat out more often–causing the health to suffer in addition to the wallet.   Eating out frequently may seem more convenient sometimes because it may save you time, at that moment, but investing time in learning to cook will make up for all of the lost time and money spent on “not so great for you” food items.

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