Sunday, February 14, 2010

Surviving our economy: a wide range of tips

I got this list in an email.  I have LOTS to say about it!  I don't remember where it came from, but some of my replies are older.  I ate meat when I wrote this!


Surviving our economy: a wide range of tips



Save Money Grocery Shopping


  • Shop for produce at a local farm stand.

I have never seen a local farm stand.  Every once in a while, I see a truck with a fellow or two with some tomatoes and squash for sale.  I have gone to Farmer's Market and found the prices to be more than I can afford.  I have had luck with buying produce from the Flea Market.

  • Never buy coffee, soda, or other drinks or snacks out.

I agree with this to a point.  It's a hard rule to follow.  When I must have something to drink, I splurge on a $1 McDonalds Tea.  I also keep those tubes of water-flavoring stuff in the glove compartment for "free water".  I used to keep packs of crackers in the glove compartment, but they go stale quickly so now I just stop at a convenience store for a pack of crackers for $.50 instead if I am in danger of starving to death!

  • Always grocery shop with a list.

Um, yes and no.. Have a list, but be willing to be flexible, depending on what you find at the store when you get there.  I always have some cushioning in my budget to allow for deals or stocking up.

  • Take advantage of sales on items that you would normally buy.

Duh.  I think we all know this.  But I'm going to elaborate on this a little: be willing to try things you wouldn't normally buy as long as it's in your budget and it's "cheap enough".  Anything can be thrown in a casserole.

  • Only shop once a month.

I would not be able to do this, and I don't know how it would save money.  If grocery stores ran specials once a month, this would be wonderful advice.  But since they have weekly ads, that's when I have to poke my head in.  Besides, I don't have the storage space for a month's worth of groceries.  In my opinion, this is just bad advice.

  • Keep a price book and track prices by unit cost.

I've never had a price book.  I think, in theory, they are a good idea.  But in practice, they take a LONG time to put together and since groceries have gone up 50% in the past year, one that you made last year would be obsolete now. 

  • Stockpile staples when prices are low.

Best tip so far!  If you know what your prices are (thus the price book concept) you will make a killing when your supplies are on sale.  However, I haven't found a sale that beats buying bulk yet.

  • Buy generic items. Plan meals according to what is on sale that week.

I rarely buy groceries that are name-brand.  A few exceptions that I can think of are cake mix and velveeta.  They are usually no more than the store brand, so I get them when they are on sale.  I am a HUGE supporter of Store-brands.

  • Take advantage of rainchecks if the store doesn't have a sale item that you need.

I've never ran into this problem.

  • Take advantage of rebates at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid; but only if you'll use the item and will follow through on the rebate.

I've never done this.  I don't follow through on rebates anyway.  I've never even been tempted to buy something because of a rebate.

  • Buy enough of a sale item to last 12 weeks. That's about how long sales take to cycle.

I haven't tested this concept, but how awesome would be it be to be this organized?!

  • Shop at discount marts: Grocery outlet, The Dollar Store, etc.

I don't shop for groceries at the Dollar Store, because the groceries that they carry are usually $.89 at the grocery store!  There are exceptions (I got a killer deal on some olive oil once and wish I'd gotten 20 bottles), so KNOW YOUR prices!! 

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Many stores offer a small discount per bag.

None of the stores around here do that, but I have seen a lot of the re-usable bags for sale for $1 there.  I think it's a wonderful idea, but I don't feel they are being marketed in the best way.  The thing I run into is "why should I spend a buck on a bag with the store's logo on it to save the store $.025?"  I think a better idea would be to give a coupon for a free bag for every $x spent AND charge $.05 per plastic bags.  There's an incentive to bring my own bags.  If it costs me NOT to, not if it costs me to.

  • Take advantage of stores that double coupons.

No stores around here do this on a regular basis.  Once in a while one of the stores I don't shop at has triple coupons, as long as they are less than $.35

  • Watch out for deals on things that your friends need, and have them do the same for you.

We do a very informal version of this.  My sister has the Sam's Club membership and every once in a while, I ask her to get me a bulk item from there next time she's there.  And I'll call her if something she regularly gets is on sale and ask her if she wants me to pick some up.  It happens more with non-grocery bargains, but has happened in the grocery store.

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