1. Do Your Research and Buy In Bulk
First, while it might take a bit of research, you should find which grocery store in your area has the most economical price on the staples (such as bread, milk, and eggs) you buy regularly. It may take some legwork, but it’s worth it when you realize how much money it will save over time. By a conservative estimate, this might save you $15 per week, but over the course of a year, that adds up to $780. Wal-Mart actually has a tool that will guarantee you the lowest price in town, check that out here.
In tandem with price research, buying the things you will regularly use (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) in bulk often provides buyers with further savings. It’s generally a good idea to never bulk buy an item you haven’t tried before. Imagine buying a particular body wash in bulk, only to find out that it irritates your skin. As a general rule of thumb, here are some things you should always buy in bulk:
1) Toilet paper
2) Office supplies
4) Soap and shampoo
5) Toothbrushes and toothpaste
6) Non-perishable food (canned tuna, soda, cereal)
7) Laundry detergent
After identifying the cost effective grocery stores, having one or two meals prepared and ready to be cooked in your fridge can save you from reaching for the takeout menu at night. You can buy the items needed for this in bulk, often saving on them, and have them ready to replace your takeout urges, for a second round of savings.
2. Join a Customer Rewards Program
For the places you frequently visit, whether for groceries or more expensive buys, enrolling in a valued customer or rewards program often gives you access to coupons and rebates that you otherwise might not have. As an example, a decent rewards program is Safeway’s “Reward Points” program, which gives 1 point for every dollar spent on groceries. The points can then be converted to get cheaper gasoline. 100 points equals ten cents of per gallon of gas at Safeway and most Mobil stations. All you need to do is punch in your phone number (the one paired with your rewards program) at the pump.
3. Shop Out of Season to Catch Marked-Down Deals
Another easy way to reduce your spending is to shop out of season. The bathing suit you like might be $78 in June, but that same suit is much more likely to be marked down to $30 in December.
Huge savings are also available when you stock up on Christmas or other holiday items (think cards and décor) right after the actual holiday. Holiday-related goods can be marked down 50% or more. With that being said, here are some other items that should always be bought off-season:
- Real estate – shopping in the winter could save you money because there’s less competition from other buyers.
- Outdoor/lawn items – buy these in September and October. Stores usually don’t have the storage space to keep grills, lawnmowers and patio furniture, so they slash prices to get rid of their inventory.
- Skis and snowboards – get these in March and April. You’ll find huge deals!
- Vacations – go at non-peak times if you can deal with the weather risk. Europe tends to be cheaper from November to February, as it tends to be cold and rainy.
Cutting spending requires some forethought and the ability to compare costs between items and stores but cutting spending and being more responsible does not require us to live like misers.