Today was grocery shopping day. Not that we have a special day for that, but when you’re low on food or other essentials, then it’s grocery shopping day. Since money is tight these days we try our best to shop smart. While we are not the best (I know people that can get tons of items for practically nothing), we are learning. Here are a few things we try to do to save money at the store.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry. This one is pretty obvious actually and we are horrible at this. It is so easy to fall into the trap of buying those “extras” when you’re hungry. Everything looks tasty.
- Make a list. Again this is obvious and in any list of shopping tips you’ll find out there. But I can’t express the importance of this. Know what you want and need so that there is no question as you walk through. Again without a list, you’ll just see what looks good and throw it in the cart. You’ll do that even with a list at times, but the list will keep you more focused.
- Check the ads. Check those weekly ads that all store put out. This goes in with making a list. Stores will offer great prices on items just to get you in the store in the hopes that while you’re there you’ll buy something else. Resist that temptation and you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
- Clip those coupons. Coupons are there also to get you into the store in hopes that you’ll buy more of that product or others. But if you are able to combine coupons with sales and perhaps shop at stores that also will double coupons, then you can make those coupons really work for you. It doesn’t take that long to clip and organize your coupons and you can find so many online to print out that it is almost foolish not to use them. Check out http://www.hip2save.com/ as a good place to start to find those online coupons and great deals at many stores and http://www.coupons.com for an important site for printable coupons.
- Don’t be afraid to shop multiple stores. We have 5-6 different major groceries within about a 15 mile radius of where we do most of our shopping. We’ll take our shopping list, compare it to the sales going on and figure in any coupons we may have to get a list of items to purchase at each store. While some stores (like Walmart) will price match if it’s the exact same brand and item, it is sometimes easier to go from store to store. It will take a bit more time to do your shopping, but as long as you plan ahead you can save quite a bit of money.
- Make a menu. We used to better at this, but recently have fallen astray of doing this like we should. We used to plan our meals out for a month. Buy what we needed to create these meals for the month in one trip and not have to worry about it anymore other than some perishables we would purchase each week. We found that when we buy for the month, we were less likely to buy those “extras” that we don’t need, than if you shopped more often. If a month is too long to plan for, a two-week period or even weekly is better than not planning at all.
- Stock up if you are able. If there is an item on sale that you use a ton of then as long as it’s not perishable then go ahead and stock up. We use a ton of condensed can soups for cooking. When those go on sale or we have coupons, we’ll buy more than we need for the week or month of meals we’re buying for. This way we can get the best price on the most items.
- Buy in bulk if you can. Along the same lines as above, buy in bulk whether through a warehouse store (Sam’s Club) or going to a bulk food store. My wife makes a lot of homemade breads, so we’ll like to go to buy our flour and sugar in bulk at a local bulk food store. You’ll typically get a better price per pound on these type of things if you buy in large volumes. Just be sure you’re going to use it all before it spoils. Doesn’t help to buy in bulk if you end up throwing half of it away.
- Have fun. How can you have fun grocery shopping do you say? Well, sure it’s not something I look forward to doing, but since I’m out there at the store, I might as well enjoy myself. My wife and I make a game of it to see how much money we can save. Who can find the best deals, who can save the most. We’ve made a chore fun. Many other list of tips will suggest shopping alone, and that may make sense for a lot of people, but my wife and I actually enjoy grocery shopping together and I love spending time with her. We are able to leave the kids at home most times so it does make it so much easier.
- Be happy. I see so many people at the store there are just plain grumpy. They just don’t seem to be happy people. Perhaps it’s just the grocery store bringing it out in them, but if you smile and say hi to people it’s amazing how much better you will feel while out and about.
I think that anything you do to make your money stretch it’s farthest is God honoring. God wants us to be good stewards of what he has given us. This list of shopping tips just scratches the surface, and I’m far from an expert, in fact most of these are things my wife does so I take no credit for coming up with any of it. But if we can be good stewards with our money, be a light to others as they see us out shopping and portray a Christlike character while we’re out and about, I think God will bless us many times over.
And I must say hi again to those people I ran into at the store today. It’s always fun to see who I’ll run into each time I’m out. In fact, the trip doesn’t feel complete if I don’t see someone I know!