Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shop Smarter, Not Harder

When I was teaching we would tell kids to think smarter, not harder. Well, lately I've been trying to shop smarter. And even thought it's actually been a little bit of a challenge, I've been saving a lot of money.  The goal is to make it easier not harder in the long run.  Here are some examples of how I've been shopping smarter to save money lately.

1.  Reading blogs.  Blogs such as Money Saving Mom, Deal Seeking Mom, and Couponing 101 are great resources. These blogs all give strategies for deals that are out there.  I've stocked up on applesauce and cream soups at Target recently after reading and informing myself of deals.  I literally paid pennies for these products.  I wouldn't know those deals were out there otherwise.

2. Buying less product for more savings.  This one has a been my biggest challenge.  I normally use the strategy buy in bulk.  Here's an example of a recent transaction where I bought less and saved more.   I recently used a $2 register reward at Walgreens on two 10 oz bottles of Palmolive dish soap along with a 99 cent coupon for each.  The cost was free.  Normally I wouldn't spend $2 on 20 oz for dish soap, but I didn't pay $2.  I got them free.  

3. Buying generic medicines.  Target brand ibuprofen was less than half the cost of Advil a while back.  Couldn't see why spending so much more.  It works the same.  Also I've taken Zyrtec for nearly 10 years now for allergies.  I use it during the spring, summer and fall as needed.  In the past when I didn't have insurance I paid $75 for 30 pills.  With insurance the co-pay was $10.  Now that it is an over the counter drug, it costs about $20 for 30 pills.   I bought the Walgreens generic brand Wal-Zyr for $20 for 60 pills.  Unless you know a generic doesn't work for you, I highly recommend saving money this way.  

4.  Shopping at more than one store.  This can make shopping a little harder.  But if you know the products that are cheapest at each store, you really can save a lot.  I shop at two grocery stores (and not both each week).  One grocery store sells apples for 99 cents a pound, while the other sells them for $1.50 a pound.  Milk is another product I buy a the cheaper grocery store.  My daughter's soy milk can cost from $2.75 to $3.59 for a half gallon between the two stores. I also scan the ad at the more expensive grocery store and only buy the cheapest things there.   Having a plan works better than just shopping.

5. Utilizing Double Coupon Days.  This is actually on Wednesdays at the expensive grocery store, which doesn't always mean a better deal.  But, by looking at the ad this week I saw that cream soups were on sale for $1 each.  No way I would I buy a cream soup for $1.  But I had  a $1/2 coupon and used it on double coupon day.  So I got two cans of creams soups for free. 

So, my latest strategy is to find what works best for us, spend some time educating myself on deals, and buy less to save more.  Sometimes it's a lot easier said than done.  Some weeks it feels like a full time job in itself.  I think mostly because we just moved and we have so many different options to choose from.  I'm confident it will even out soon and it will be less of a challenge. 

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