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15 Super Tips For Shopping Savings Success

20 Oct

ImageManaging the household budget is a career in itself, so reducing expenses while supplying groceries, health & beauty supplies, cleaning products and other household consumables takes a degree of skill and planning. Fear not, stalwart reader! The good news is that we are creatures of habit with predictable buying preferences, so with a bit of guidance and minor behavior modification you will be shocked at how much you can save.

  1. Take inventory. Know what you have in stock in order to prepare the shopping list and avoid unnecessary purchases. Keep your cupboards organized so you can see your inventory at a glance.
  2. Always use a shopping list. Even though we are creatures of habit, you still need to write it down and take it with you. Get your family into the habit of adding items to the list as items run low or run out. Keep the list posted in a central location, like the refrigerator. Plan your family menu and base your list on it. If your kid complains about dinner, show them how to add suggestions to the menu and the shopping list; make them part of the process. Be sure to double check your cupboard inventory and update the list as needed.
  3. Shop the season & the supply. If you want cherries in February you will pay more since they are usually shipped from South America. If there is a drought that dives up the price of beef, you need to look at other forms of protein that are not affected, like wild caught fish. Much depends on the law of supply and demand, transportation costs, and short shelf life.
  4. Buy from the source, or as close as possible. Packaging, transportation and storage figure largely into prices, so buying directly cuts down greatly on these costs. Farmer’s markets have great deals on produce. I usually make my purchases about a half hour before closing to get the best deals. Buying from a butcher will get you the best deal on the best quality meat. When purchasing perishables especially, you need to determine what is best for your situation based on family size, storage capacity, and the amount of income your can commit to a single purchase.
  5. Know the price. For items you buy often, you usually know when the price goes up and which store sells for less. It is important that you understand cost per unit, since packaging for the exact same item can vary depending on the store. Pay close attention to items labeled “new & improved” which usually means that the packaging was changed and you are actually getting less for the same price. For items purchased less frequently or don’t go on sale, I document item, price, size and store in the same mini spiral notepad I use for my shopping list that I keep in my coupon wallet. Shop Savvy is a great free smartphone app that lets you compare prices from various stores.
  6. Buy store brands. Store brands and lesser brands can save money, but there are some things you will need to consider. You will have to do some trial and error to see if the product will perform as well as the brand you currently use; if it doesn’t do the job or your family doesn’t like it, you are just wasting your money. You also need to factor in sale price and coupons, which may make your favorite brand as cheap or cheaper than the generic version.
  7. Buy in bulk. This is not the best strategy for everyone, but if you have a large family it may benefit you to tie up your money in inventory so you do not have to run to the store as often spending more time and gas. I have rarely seen a lower price per unit by buying in bulk than you can get for the same item on sale at your local store, especially when you factor in store reward programs and being able to use multiple coupons on multiple packages. You can see greatest bulk buying savings at the butcher if you have the capacity to buy and store the various cuts of a half or an entire animal.
  8. Shop the ads. Buy when the items on you list go on sale at the store, and in the amount you will need until the next sale. Stores usually run the best deals on an item every 3mos, lesser discounts can occur monthly; meaning an item might be $1 off every 3 mos. but $.50 off in the interim. Grocery and discount stores usually have the same items on sale at the same time, rather than staggered. Coupons from stores and manufactures are often issued at the same time to coincide with the sales. Sign up for free updates and previews on your store’s website and Facebook page.
  9. Use coupons. While coupons from the newspaper and junk mail are helpful, you can save time and get the exact coupons you need by using online resources. Coupon Sherpa is a great free smartphone app that lets you search for general grocery coupons or a specific store. Coupons.com , SmartSource.com and RedPlum.com are great websites for printable coupons. Don’t forget to “like” your favorite products on Facebook to receive coupons and other promotions. Be sure to use both store and manufacturer’s coupons for the same item when available. Many grocery stores will double the face value of your coupons, check they store website for restrictions such as amount or days.
  10. Use credit card rewards. Chose a credit card that offers a high percentage of cash back on grocery purchases. Of course, this is only helpful if you pay off your bill each month.
  11. Use store rewards. By using store rewards, you can often save not only on the purchase but accumulate additional discounts. My favorite is Giant Eagle Fuel Perks which offers $.10 off per gallon of gas for every $50 spent, but also offers additional points on certain sale items each week, allowing the savings to add up quickly.
  12. Buy gift cards. Gift cards bought at the grocery store will qualify for credit card grocery cash back and grocery store reward points, and can be used at the store or online. Buy gift cards for shopping you would have to do anyway and don’t qualify for credit card cash back or the percentage is lower than that is offered for groceries.
  13. Leave the kids (and the guilt) at home. You are less likely to stray from your list if you don’t have those cute little faces pleading for treats or taking the time away from completing your mission quickly.
  14. Don’t take a cart if you only need a basket. Your stuff expands to fill your space, whether it’s a home, car or shopping cart; take the smallest container possible for the items on your list.
  15. Bundle your errands. Time is money (especially if you are paying a sitter) and gas is not cheap. Since you will probably go to more than one type of store to do your entire household shopping due to price, preference or availability, you do not want to waste time or travel resources making separate trips. Take your coupon wallet and list with you when you leave they house, like your do your keys and phone, and work your shopping into your other errands based on location, time, and items. Perishables, chemicals or bulky items that do not fit in the trunk are best purchased on the way home.

Don’t be reluctant to delegate some of these tasks to your spouse and children; they consume products and need to own part of the process. They need to understand that if they prefer certain items, they need to find a way to make it happen and your job is to show them. Don’t whine about “having to do it all” if you are not willing to delegate. If your child wants a special cereal or shampoo, have them add it to the list and show them how to find the ads and coupons; otherwise you buy whatever is on sale that week and they can use their allowance money for special preference purchases. You are teaching them about setting priorities and taking responsibility, and fostering healthy attitudes toward money that will serve them well in life.

Got a great money saving shopping tip? Tell us about it!

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4 Responses to “15 Super Tips For Shopping Savings Success”

  1. Canadianbudgetbinder October 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    There are so many ways to save money when you shop and you nailed a great bunch of them. We love to order coupons and buy in bulk if we can pair a great flyer deal with a coupon. Always do the math and read package sizing as mfg change that but most fail to notice. We carry a calculator with us when we shop or Mrs.CBB uses the calculator on her cell phone. Great post, lots of great tips! Cheers Mr.CBB

    • realpennywise October 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback & the retweet! Always good to know what readers find useful.

  2. Sylvester June 18, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I was very happy to find this page. I need to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!

    ! I definitely appreciated every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new things on your
    site.

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