1. About once every couple of years I’d encourage you to make a list of the 15 to 20 items that you use routinely (paper towels, bread, toothpaste, etc.) Then compare prices between your nearby grocery store a local Wal-Mart and your favorite wholesale club (mine being Sam’s Club). Record the prices and evaluate where to buy each product. Take into account the amount of space you have for storage and how much your family will consume. Now you won’t need to reevaluate where to get these for another couple of years.
Because of this single strategy, I know that we will will buy Member’s Mark paper towels at Sam’s and store the extra in the garage. Because we don’t have room for the large box of storage bags from Sam’s, we always buy Great Value at Wal-Mart. The Great Value product is just slightly higher then the name brand at Sam’s but does not require near the space.
2. Recognize that these brands are typically the better value:
- Sam’s Choice, Great Value and Equate at Wal-Mart
- Member’s Mark at Sam’s Club
- Kirkland’s Signature at Costco
- The store brand at other wholesale warehouse clubs
Become a member at Sam’s Club for just $45 and then receive great savings throughout the year. We regularly purchase paper towels, toilet paper, cheese, chicken, organic salad, cat food and much more at discounted prices that can quickly cover the membership fee.
3. If shopping at a local grocery store then typically the store brand is a better deal then name brands (unless coupons can be doubled or tripled for name brand).
4. Convenience stores are usually more expensive than grocery stores. We pay extra for convenience. So convenience stores charge more than grocery stores and grocery stores are typically more expensive then Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club or other discount sellers.
5. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry. When we are hungry we tend to buy more.
6. Take a list and stick to the list.
7. Recognize that the more packaged and processed a food is then typically the more expensive it becomes. For instance, a bag of thinly sliced carrots will be more costly then a bundle of carrots.
8. The larger size of a product is typically a better deal then the smaller size. This is only true if most or all of the contents are consumed. If part of it is thrown away then the savings may dissipate. Likewise, if storage is lacking and the price difference is small then a smaller size may be the better option given one’s limited space.
9. Realize that the layout of grocery stores is geared toward marketing products and keeping you in the store longer. The longer a person stays then the more a person tends to buy. This is why staples such as milk, eggs and butter are displayed toward the back of the store. Likewise there is a reason that freshly made cookies and pastries are generally toward the front as consumers pass the area, see the freshly baked goods and smell the aroma of such wonderful sweets that one may suddenly feel are needed. Even shelf height is a part of the marketing strategy. Take note of the items at the very top and bottom of the shelving. These may be more generic brands, less profitable for the store and a better deal for the consumer. By merely acknowledging the tricks of the trade, the shopper may be better equipped to resist the designed temptations.
10. Consider using coupons. This is one idea I am a bit more ambivalent on. We probably spend less than two minutes a week with coupons. We tend to clip one for several dollars off at a restaurant or hardware store but not a lot more. Here’s why. In our city none of the stores double or triple coupons. They just take the coupons at face value. Often times the store brand is as cheap or cheaper then the name brand product with a coupon at face value. Cutting, filing and then using the coupons is time consuming. At Wiser Dollar, we are interested in money savings but also in freeing up time. So I ask that you consider your context and estimate how much you are saving per hour based upon couponing. If you have stores that double or triple coupons and you estimate that your savings is equivalent to $20 an hour for the work then it may be justifiable and a worthy strategy. However, if your savings is more like $5 for an hour’s work and you could buy store brand and earn about the same savings then it probably isn’t worth the extra effort. In the end the objective on this is to save money and free up time.
Bonus thought: This last idea won’t necessarily save money but can help maintain one’s peace. While standing in line awaiting checkout, consider how blessed we are to have the stores we do. In many parts of the world, you’d have to go to one shop to buy bread and to another market place to buy meat, all the while in the context of less than ideal cleanliness as flies land on the products being sold. I know a lady from East Africa who came to our fair city as an adult. This was the first time she had been out of her home country. When a friend took her to a local grocery store, she was amazed at all the products and the sparkling clean floor. She even thought she should take off her shoes because of the surroundings. She had never experienced something so spectacular as our local grocery store. Happy shopping!
- Receive a free $10 Walmart or Target gift card when you make your first purchase through Ebates along with cash back bonuses at your favorite stores. Click on my link here to sign up and receive such savings.
- Purchase discounted checks through Extra Value Checks. I recently purchased checks with them and received about 50% off what banks would typically charge!
- Access Walmart’s online clearance site for huge discounts, plus receive free shipping on purchases over $50! Great prices are available in the stores, but the selection of clearance items online is much larger with thousands of items being available.
photo credit: Rick, Produce via Flickr cc License – 11/16/15 with no changes