August 14, 2012

Return of the ninja

I have traveled near and far. From store to store, in search of the coveted... FREE. Now I return to you the secrets of my savings.

*** If you missed part one check it out here ***

 So I didn't quite come up with anything for "free". However did get some killer deals and have 12 tips for anyone who likes to save money.

  • Read the weekly circulars - Ya know those newsprint grocery store adds that come out every week? Yes those. This is the best place to start, after you make a list of what you actually need of course. Try to plan out your shopping trip based on what is already on sale. If you go shopping a couple times a month try to plan on getting larger quantities of thinks like meat all at once. These usually will go on sale for 1/2 off or buy one, get one. ( I like to buy the biggest package possible when it is BOGO)

  • Learn the store rules - Many stores offer doubling or tripling of coupons but there may be certain conditions. Also some stores may have certain deals on specific days of the week.

  • Do your research - Compare prices between stores, look up printable coupons online, add yourself to a mailing lists. This is really for any store and item you may be buying. Wait to buy things until they are on sale or until you have a coupon. Many stores even offer tech coupons that can be emailed, texted or scanned off of a phone.

  • Preserving food - If you are able to buy items like meat once or twice a month you can vacuum seal in portion sizes for you and your family. This  saves space and helps to avoid food going to waste.

  • Bring your own bags - Most stores will give you a discount for every bag you bring. Some store will even offer a discount just bringing back a paper bag. Depending where you live it can cost you more money if the store provides a bag for you.

  • Matching manufacture coupons to store sales - Hit the store with a double discount when you take advantage of what is on sale already.

  • Read the fine print - Many coupons are conditional meaning "you must buy this many" or "limit this many" or "only for this size package".

  • Buy local - If you are able to buy local products ( produce, dairy, meat, bread etc.) You will be able to get food that is more fresh and that supports the people and business that live near you. I would much rather pay a farmer that lives within 2 hours of me than across the country. This is also better for the farmers, they can save money not having to ship products or driving too far.

  • Buy store brand - A box is a box is a box. From cereal to pasta to toilet paper, try focusing on the product not the brand. I understand, there are certain things that the "original" just tastes better. ( There is certain small, orange, cheesy cracker I had in mind, I love them so bad) But you can save a couple bucks by just getting the store brand.

  • Don't buy it just because you have a coupon - There is two parts to this. Only get what you actually need and check similar items before getting the one with the coupon. Sometimes even when you have a coupon, another brand of the same product might be cheaper

  • Utilize fresh markets - If your area offers farmer markets, Go! The produce can be dramatically cheaper and most of the time you can talk to the people who grow the food. From my experience I can spend the same amount of money at a grocery store and come out with half as much produce and almost all of it is from another state or country. Farmer's markets are usually seasonal so enjoy them while you can. Some farmers will even negotiate prices with you or throw in extras.

  • Avoid shopping at the beginning of the month - I am not sure if it is my conspiracy brain or the advertising classes I took in college but be weary of social dynamics when shopping. During the beginning of the month the prices of primary items like milk, eggs, cereal and meat go up. Sadly many chain grocery stores take advantage of people who just got paid and people who get food assistance. For many people who rely on assistance it is a desperate time right before the start of a new month, you start running out of what you need and don't have any money left to buy it. So when your money comes in and you need those items they will cost just a little more then waiting a week or two.

All of these tips are my personal opinions and from my own experiences. I hope some of this information is helpful and will save you some money! Let me know if you have any other good tips to add.

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