Welcome to the wonderful world of saving 50-75% off your normal grocery and household item bill! Most of the stuff listed here I learned from my beautiful mother. A lot of it was taught to my by great folks out there on the web. I’ve decided to make my own list. It’s practical and easy to follow. I don’t sugar coat things, however. I’ve always been a realist and too honest for my own good. The suggestions in the list are for you to take or leave. Pick the ideas you like and know you can follow through with. There is a bit of work and effort involved in the strategies to save major money. So, if you’re lazy, you might as well move along to another website that promises to teach you how to get something for nothing. Good luck and happy bargain hunting!
It’s not unusual for me to save an extra $40 – $100 just using coupons.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. This is the cardinal rule of shopping. The list represents your shopping needs: the staples (milk, bread, eggs, flour) youâ€™re out of and the food and household goods that are on sale or discounted that week. When you stray from the list, youâ€™re buying on impulse, and thatâ€™s how shopping trips get out of control. Reel yourself in and stick to the plan. Try to match your shopping list with sale items and sale plus coupon items as much as possible before your trip.
Which leads to…Clip coupons and only shop at stores that will double/triple them: Buy what’s on sale. Always try to match sale items with coupons on hand. Clip every coupon you see. You can trade them or even sell them on eBay. Buy a couple of extra Sunday papers for the coupons (make sure to recycle them) or visit local coffee shops for extras left behind. The Internet is bloated with printable coupons and free product samples. Make an effort to do your coupon farming rounds online at least once per week. Coupons help incredibly with stockpiling which is the best reason to try to get duplicates of your favorite and most-needed items. Join the TheGroceryGame.com. You’ll get a weekly list of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers’ coupons and weekly specials – advertised and unadvertised. It’s not unusual for me to save an extra $40 – $100 per shopping trip using just coupons. Matching coupons with sale items, especially BOGO (buy one get one free) items is the bomb-diggity. Sometimes the item winds up free. Yes, FREE. There is a whole sub-culture of Coupon Queens and Kings out there. We’ve made couponing both a game and an art form!
After all that…compare unit pricing. Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Smart & Final don’t want us to know that the biggest package isnâ€™t always the most cost-effective. Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up: sometimes the bulk item is cheaper, sometimes itâ€™s more expensive. The only way you can be sure is to take a calculator. Our grocery store posts unit pricing for most items, which makes comparisons easy. Here’s an excellent guide for easy unit pricing comparisons.
Ask For Rain Checks. A lot of people don’t even know what a rain check is and it’s because stores don’t want you to know. By law, they have to provide a ticket, coupon, or the like, entitling you to purchase at a later date and for the same amount a sale item that is temporarily out of stock. It’s not unusual for me to ask for several of these when I am at the supermarket. Always ask for the maximum number of items on the rain check so you can stockpile if the price is really good.
This Stockpiler Has Been Busy
Stock Up on Sale Items. If youâ€™ve got the room, load up on staples when theyâ€™re on sale. If youâ€™ve got the space in your freezer and your cabinets, it pays to stock up. Just make sure you use items by their expiration date and check how long meats can stay frozen.
Even better, hit more than one store and scoop up the bargains. Thatâ€™s a technique called cherry picking. You can cherry-pick at supermarkets as well as at discount and drug stores. Even if you canâ€™t be bothered with store-hopping, itâ€™s worthwhile to glance at whatâ€™s on sale at several area grocers. Grocery retailers were so afraid of us cherry-pickers that they actually paid to have a study make sure they weren’t losing too much money on us.
Henry’s Farmers Market
Throw brand loyalty out the window. When the bottom line is your money, don’t go without but certainly go with the lowest bidder. Once sale prices and coupons are taken into consideration the brand you’re used to buying might not be the one that is the best deal. Be careful of anyone having allergies however. Allergies you ask? Well yes, I came home with a different brand of laundry detergent last week and my husband became an itchy mess. So, from now on we only will buy Cheer detergent. He’s worth it
Which sometimes leads to…Choose generic when it’s the least expensive after coupons and sale prices. Try the store brand. Generic and store brand products are cheaper than their name-brand equivalents and are usually of similar quality. But do you know why youâ€™re reluctant to try generics? Most generics have unappealing packaging. If they cost less and taste the same, who cares?
Make one large trip instead of several small ones. Each time you enter the grocery store is another chance to spend. By reducing the frequency of your trips, youâ€™re not only avoiding temptation, but youâ€™re also saving money on overhead (time and fuel). We usually do two main shopping trips a month.
Live on the edge and shop the outer perimeter of the store. Health-conscious shoppers know that the perimeter of the store is where the good stuff is. The baked goods, dairy products, fresh meats, and fruits and vegetables are generally placed along the outside edge of the supermarket, while the processed stuff can be found up and down the aisles. But shopping the edges isnâ€™t just healthier â€” itâ€™s cheaper too. Stock up on the fresh food first, then venture to the middle of the store. Dr. Atkins of low-carb fame was one of the first to suggest this shopping behavior. Although I am not a die-hard carnivore (and you don’t need to be either) he was absolutely right in this tactic to avoid over-processed foods.
Use store membership cards – but they come with a price. The membership cards supermarkets give out are required for you to get sale prices. They are, quite literally, holding the sale price hostage in exchange for knowing all your buying habits so they can sell more crap to you. That’s living in the computer age. I am not a huge fan of the idea because I like my privacy but I need to feed my family.
Another Well-Stockpiled Pantry
Buy from the bulk bins. Some stores offer bulk bins filled with grains, flours, dried fruits, cereal, trail mix, beans and spices. When you buy in bulk, you get just the amount you need, and you pay less. Much less. The store here in San Diego that has the best selection of bulk foods is definitely Henry’s Farmers Market.
Make sure your prices are scanned correctly. Make sure your coupons are scanned correctly. Sale items, especially, have a tendency to be in the computer wrong, and yet few people ever challenge the price at the register. You donâ€™t need to hold up the line: simply watch the price of each item as itâ€™s scanned. If you suspect an error, step to the side and check the receipt as the clerk begins the next order. If thereâ€™s a problem, politely point it out. Itâ€™s your money. Ask for it.Shop alone. In Why We Buy, the author notes that people tend to buy more when shopping in groups than when shopping alone. â€œBut men are especially suggestible to the entreaties of children as well as eye-catching displays.â€ For us, my husband just doesn’t have the patience to stand around while I do my persnickety shopping. This makes me rush more and concentrate less. He’s much happier with our arrangement: I shop and he hauls the bags in and puts everything away. That way he also sees all the goodies I’ve brought home.
Walk to the store. By walking or biking to the store, you can automatically limit your spending. Once you are very conscious of each purchase, it seems to carry over even to the small items where space isnâ€™t really an issue. Growing up in New York City, my mother and I walked to the neighborhood grocery store with a grocery wagon. We also used that same wagon to bring our laundry to the basement laundromat. I know it’s hard you car-crazy San Diegans, but really it can be done if you live within a mile of your store.
Shop in ethnic grocery stores for such items as fresh herbs, other produce and spices. These items, such as cilantro in Mexican markets, or cardamom pods in Indian, are staples in their native cuisines and often much cheaper than in a supermarket.
Down the Aisle at Albertsons
Skip the expensive beverages. Stop drinking sodas and bottled water. Invest in a good water filter, dropping a slice of lemon into your glass to boost the flavor, make iced tea, lemonade etc. These options are healthier anyway.
Avoid the Spending Traps. Your best efforts at planning your shopping trip with coupons and grocery lists are likely to be sabotaged the minute you set foot in the supermarket. A large percent of purchasing decisions are made right in the store, and thatâ€™s exactly the way your supermarket likes it. Strategically placed signs, flashing coupon dispensers, and product displays all can have an effect on what you buy and how much you spend.
Don’t Go Shopping Hungry. Go, instead on a full stomach. Its the same concept of having “eyes bigger than one’s stomach.” If you go to the store hungry, you’re most likely to buy more than you had planned and even make choices based on what you’re craving at that particular time. Because of this my husband and I have a joke about coming home with bagels and Ho-Ho’s to go with the milk I went to buy one evening.
Buy Local – It Tastes Better, Cheap and Earth-Conscious. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season at the local farmers market or farmer’s stand. You’ll have fresh produce that hasn’t been shipped and it will cost you less plus you’ll be part of the new earth-friendly movement called Sustainable Agriculture. Visit this site to find local farmers and markets right in your area.
A completely healthy and non-processed food meal.
Don’t fondle the goods. “The more you interact with something, the more likely you are to buy it,” says Paco Underhill in Why We Buy: â€œVirtually all unplanned purchasesâ€¦come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfillment.â€ Now I know you’re probably not that gullible to think that bag of cookies is going to provide “total fulfillment, ” but the guy does have a point.
Stop Stuffing Your Pie-Hole. News stories report again and again that health officials consider a majority of Americans overweight and one-third obese. One way to spend less is to consume less. Find out what real portion sizes should be and make less pasta, less rice, less meat. Buy high-quality foods. The taste is superior – think quality not quantity. European eating habits are a good example. Food in Europe is very high quality but expensive. For example, while in a restaurant diners are charged per piece of bread they eat out of the bread basket. Food is rarely wasted in Europe. America has a problem with cheap over processed food that is making us eat more and become fat and unhealthy (not to mention the laughing stock of the rest of the world). This would also be why the American poor tend to be the most obese sector of our society.
Avoid prepackaged or prepared foods and make your own. You can marinate and season your meat using common ingredients like lemon juice and teriyaki sauce with the same outcome. They are simple and quick to make and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. Make your own salad dressing and sauces. Also, there are probably lots of spices, dried herbs, rubs, seasonings, hanging around in your cupboards. Using them is much cheaper than buying, say, $5 or $6 for a 10-ounce bottle of a commercial product. Grab your cookbooks use those expensive items instead of buying premade stuff. When you make your own pancakes, waffles, mini-pizzas and garlic bread and freeze some for future use.
Which Leads to…Learn Basic Cooking. Cooking your own food is an essential part of saving money at the supermarket. I know, obvious, but hey there’s some newbies out there
Ditch the basket or cart when just buying a few items. If youâ€™re dashing into the supermarket to pick up milk and bread, donâ€™t use a basket. Baskets induce people to buy more. If youâ€™re limited to what you can carry, youâ€™re more likely to avoid impulse purchases. Only use a basket (or shopping cart) if itâ€™s absolutely necessary.