Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping, and SAVING

Lately, I've been asking myself all the time, "Why are prices for everything going up?" and (usually when I get to the checkout counter) "How am I supposed to afford this?!?"

Whether we work or stay home, Moms have the glorious task of purchasing nearly everything that makes our families run smoothly -- food, clothing, school supplies, sports supplies -- from sneakers to popsicles to band-aids. When we travel, I decide where we should stay, how expensive a restaurant we can afford to eat in, what activities fit into the travel budget. I have shopped for insurance, homes, cars, credit cards with a good interest rate. I shop for and purchase every single gift and card for every occasion on our family calendar. (And you're welcome! He signed the card, but that gift was, in fact, from me.)

It's funny... men always joke about women shopping. But, where would humanity be if we didn't? I firmly believe that, if I didn't shop, my children would be running around nearly naked, my husband would be wearing the last set of undergarments his mother bought him when he was 17, and our household would own 3 jet skis, a pool table, and a small video arcade -- but no eggs.

So, I thought I would write a few of my tips for saving money. Today's topic: Saving Money on Groceries.

There are a few stores in our local area that I love for bargain hunting on groceries. One is Aldi. It is great for canned goods and basics. You can find low price toiletries, paper goods, frozen foods. Since I started shopping there for my basics, I have shaved about $250 per month from my grocery budget. And, I have to say, it's a nice feeling to get a cart full of groceries for less than $100. I am usually surprised when the clerk says my total -- pleasantly surprised. The downside, you need to provide 25 cents for a grocery cart (you get it back at the end of the trip) and your own bags (reduce, reuse, recycle).

And, although I am no great fan of Walmart, they have something called price-match. That means you can go over the sale ads in your Sunday paper to find the lowest prices on groceries or household goods, make a note of which store has the lowest sale price, and the cashier at Walmart will charge you that price. I heard about this from a dear friend who shops a lot at Walmart. She estimates a savings of about $50 per shopping trip.

A few hints about using price-match:

It is best to make a list of the items you want to buy. Price-match works on store-brand and name-brand items, but it has to be the same item, the same size. For example, this week, Aldi advertised a gallon of 2% milk for $2.49. I had other shopping to do at Walmart, so I was able to buy store-brand 2% milk at the same price.

Occasionally, the cashier will ask you for the advertisement. So, you should also keep a small folder with the ads you want Walmart to match.

Because some extra effort is needed for the cashier to type in the new prices, keep your price-matched items separate from the regularly priced ones. The cashier will appreciate it.

Some final grocery savings notes: it pays to be careful and plan ahead when you're shopping. Do your best to look at your food-buying habits and grocery receipts and be realistic about what is a necessary purchase and what is not. In many ways, home-made items are not only healthier, but more cost-effective.

And, be sure to look at the "Going Green" series on Midwest Moms to see how to use your garden to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables, too.

Good luck with the shopping!

Midwest Mom

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