It seems like everyone is in a panic over the economic conditions we are facing today, and rightfully so. My family included. Not too long ago, I was pretty much fired from one of my primary job responsibilities as a mother, grocery shopping and Target shopping for my family. This was a complete knee-jerk reaction by my hubby. But I’m not angry with him, I’m actually breathing a sigh of relief.
I’m not proud of the fact that I spend most of our hard-earned $ at two of my least favorite places to frequent: Harris Teeter and Target. My husband has known for a long time that I’m not the most efficient when it comes to grocery shopping. I never go in with a list because it’s usually a last minute trip like “oh no, we’re out of milk and bread” and then I come out $150 later. It’s not like I buy things that will go bad. We actually throw out very little. But it’s the little extras that go in my cart that have really been adding up lately. You see, I am flawed by design with regard to grocery shopping. I’m a go-down-every-single-aisle kind of gal, just in case I miss something that I absolutely cannot live without. And that’s the problem. You need to go in with a list and get in and out of there or you’re toast. You should also shop the perimeter. You’ll spend WAY less, not to mention it’s much healthier since that’s where all the fresh stuff is. So Randy recognized my weakness and stepped up to the plate. I know, he’s a gem, isn’t he?! He now grocery shops every Wednesday when the new e-Vic specials come out as well as double-coupon days (I’m not a coupon girl only for lack of time, but I’m changing my ways!). We have on our to-do list to do online grocery shopping, but we’re never organized enough to take that initial step. Someday we’ll make it happen!
I have also been banned from Target. This is actually something I have wanted to do for a long time anyway. I’m not a fan of their return policy plus I think Target just makes you feel like you’re getting a good deal. When in reality, their prices are just as high as Walgreens, CVS or even, Harris Teeter. And if you get me in Target, I’ll always pick up an extra pair of jammies, or Halloween decorations or something. These items are not necessities, so I have stayed away for a month and a half or so with a few “cheats” here and there.
I have to say, this system is working for us. Monday and Tuesday meal menus are pretty lame in our house, but we’re surviving just fine. And I’m happy to report that we’ve saved at least $150 a month on groceries. I have been defeated, but am willing to take a hit for the team since it means we’re saving some serious $$!
My other tips:
* For me personally, I have stopped using credit cards. If I can’t pay for it with cash, then I don’t really need it.
* Play Wii or rent movies for date night.
* Carpool when you can – saves a ton on gas.
* Go out to lunch and dinner less often. You’d be surprised at how much lunch in particular costs and can accumulate fast.
* Shop local when you can – we cannot afford to have our local economy shut down. This will exacerbate the problem.
I also turned to our Smarty team to give us all some of their tips on saving $ and I encourage you to do the same.
First up is Tracy, our Smartiest saver of all! Let’s not forget her eVic post a while back when she actually went shopping at Harris Teeter and got a refund from all of her savings! She also gave us tips on saving with credit cards.
“I am a retail store discount junkie! I actually make a game out of how much money I can save when I go shopping. I’m talking about those little deals that come in the mail where you get 20% off your entire purchase during a certain time or save $25 if you spend a certain amount. And my favorite is when stores like Gymboree or the Loft give you “bucks back” for a future purchase based off what you are buying today. Usually this ends up being half off your future purchase, even after sale prices!!
The best way to get these deals is to sign up for that stores credit card. Now, I hesitate to encourage anyone to sign up for another credit card and risk putting yourself in debt during times like these – you MUST be diligent about paying off your bill when it comes or you negate any savings you rack up in interest charges! BUT – if you do it right, you really can save a lot!
For example, I have an Old Navy card which is good at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Piperlime (shoes) and the deals are usually good at all 4 stores as well. Every time I use my card at one of those stores, I earn points toward $10 Bucks Back coupons. Plus they send me extra coupons in the mail and often you can get free or discounted shipping for online purchases! Ann Taylor is another card I have that frequently sends coupons for 20% off or $$ discounts. Plus they also just added a points program to reward you for your purchases.
A couple other tips …
* Those Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons never expire! Hold on to them and use a bunch at one time.
* Many stores will honor competitors coupons, just ask!
* When shopping online, Google that store and add the word “coupon” at the end and you’ll be amazed at the deals you can find that way.
* And finally, to keep all these great deals organized so you don’t forget about them or lose them in the bottom of your purse (happens to me all the time), get a cheap little photo album that you can slip your coupons in and easily flip through your deals at any given time. I just keep that in my purse so if I’m ever out and about, I’ll have all my deals with me!”
Next up is Dana, our green Smarty saver:
“I am trying to cut back this fall especially with the recent state of the economy. Here are some examples we try to follow in our household”:
* Shop consignment stores.
* Rent movies on demand for “date night” instead of going out.
* Cook much more at home, less take out.
* We use reusable towels/cloth napkins versus paper towels to save money and trees.
* Use cloth diapers, I spend less on disposable diapers.
* Try to consolidate shopping trips = less pollution, less gas.
* I actually dropped our gym membership because we never go. We have been exercising outside, especially with this incredible weather.
* We are going to make alot of our Christmas gifts this year and/or pick names. Keeping it simple!
* Reduce consumption of goods= less waste. Ask yourself, do you really need this?
* Shop the farmer’s markets.
* Less traveling overall.
Here is Jenny, keeping it simple:
“I go to Costco with a strict list and do not deviate. I only buy the things that I would buy if I was in Harris Teeter. Otherwise I get spend too much on things I don’t need. My list includes baby wipes, Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Waffles, Cereal, Pretzels, Cereal Bars. This way, when I go to grocery store, I just buy fresh foods like meat, fruit and vegetables for the week. It is much less waste and buying things in bulk that are not perishable, allows me to keep my weekly bills down.”
Share your Smarty tips! We could all use a little help:-)
Hey guys – Jen P here. Having a little technical difficulty with allowing comments to be posted. Bear with us! We do want to hear from you, especially today when we all need a little help on savings tips – we’ll get it fixed:-)
OK, it’s fixed for the most part – thanks for your patience!