My husband gets paid every two weeks, so every two weeks I make a day of buying groceries and household needs. It takes a few hours to scan the sale papers, match them up with my coupons and go throughout the cabinets to see what I need to purchase and usually about 5 or so hours in town buying what's on that list.
Since we are a one income family, I try very hard to make those dollars stretch. I usually do a good job sticking to my list and finding those hidden sales. But there have been just as many weeks that I totally blow it and I come home with a lot of things that weren't on my list, or even on my mind until I saw them in the store.
I'd like to share some things that work for me that help keep me on track.
1. I always make a list. My kids lovingly (?) call my list my "brain". One thing that has really helped is I always try to keep at least one of everything "in stock". In other words, in our bathroom I have a cabinet where I keep all of our soap, shampoo, shave cream, toothpaste...etc. In that cabinet are say, two cans of shave cream. We take a can out and use it. When that can gets empty, we pull out the next can and immediately go to the list and write it down. Even my children do this because I have taught them since they were little that when they pull out the extra, you need to write it on the list. This does a few things... a) it keeps me from running out and eliminates those extra trips to the store. If you are like me, a trip to the store for a 1.50 deoderant turns into a $40 shopping spree!! b) it allows me to take advantage of sales and not needing to pay full price for anything c) it saves gas in my car. I drive a small compact car, but with gas prices it still takes $45 to fill it up!!
2. I shop the sales. In most places the sales for the week come out in the paper on Wednesday and I usually do the shopping on Friday so it gives me a couple of days to.....
3. Make a menu. Read the paper, plan your meals for the next two weeks according to the sales. By making a menu, you know what ingredients you will need. Check your cabinets for those ingredients. If you don't have them, write them on your list. Again eliminating extra trips to the store. Also making a menu keeps me from having the "I don't know what to fix" mentality and keeps me from spending needlessly on heat-n-eat items.
4. By our house we are fortunate to have a trade center or the more familiar name is a "Bent-n-Dent". They have items whose packages are 'gently' damaged. Maybe a box has been a little damaged or a can (be very careful here) that is slightly bent. At our particular store most of the items are in good shape and still well within the expiration date. Because of this though, most things are dramatically reduced in price. Check around in your area to see if you have a local "Bent-n-Dent".
I am also fortunate that all of the stores I shop at are within 2 miles of each other. If you have to drive for miles to save a buck, you may not be saving anything at all.
I'm interested to know how you save money on shopping day. Share your ideas with me. I'm always interested in learning new ways to save.