Guest Blog Post ~ David Bakke from Your Finances 101
Today I want to introduce you to David Bakke; he is the author of Your Finances 101 blog, where he writes about Saving More, Spending Less, and Generating Extra Cash in Your Life. In David’s guest blog post today he is going to give us some tips on grocery shopping in a frugal sense, we can all use tips with saving some money, and David has some great advice on how to stretch your grocery dollars. When you have a minute check out David’s blog, Your Finances 101, for more great personal financial tips.
Frugal Shopping 101: Are Those Blueberries Really on Sale?
By David Bakke
A very important part of fixing your overall financial picture (and one that is often overlooked) is making sure that you are maximizing your grocery-shopping dollar. Groceries are probably your second biggest monthly expense behind your mortgage/rent payment.
Over the years, I have picked up quite a few good tips and strategies on how to get the most from your weekly trip to the grocery store.
Here is a quick story. I do my grocery shopping at four different outlets. I use our local farmer’s for the majority of our purchases (we are vegetarian), I use two national outlets for our other needs, and then we use a specialty store for some organic purchases that we make.
Recently, I noticed something very interesting about blueberries. Kroger’s had a sign that said “Blueberries: 2 for $4.00”. Publix had theirs advertised “On sale: 2 for $5.00”. Trader Joe’s had them advertised as being “On special: $2.99” and finally, the farmer’s market had no advertising at all, just a simple price tag of $1.79.
This story brings up several key points that allow me to save the most on my grocery shopping.
First, find and use a local farmer’s market! Their produce prices are incredible—really! I have never tracked it, but I would estimate that their prices are consistently 20%-25% lower than that of the national chains. About the only time I do buy any kind of produce at a national chain is when I forget an item at the farmer’s market. In addition, any of you who might be getting visions of people scrounging through subpar tomatoes to get the few good ones that might be in there—have no fear. The quality of the veggies, as far as I can tell, is just as good as that of your major grocers. Also, the selection is much better as well. You should find that these farmer’s markets carry many items you just do not find at your major grocers. This could even allow you to expand your menu at home when doing your cooking.
Second, spread out your purchases. I used to do all my grocery shopping at one national chain. Until I saw the light. I save tons at the farmer’s market, and Publix always has several items that I regularly buy at a cheaper price than Kroger’s. Finally, I use Trader Joe’s when I want to “treat” myself and they have some good specials from time to time as well. Moreover, on a side note, make sure you get on the mailing lists of these grocers. From time to time, they send out coupons via direct mail, that are usually tailored to the items that you buy the most.
Third, know your prices! Three of my four grocers had advertised “sales” on blueberries, but as it turns out, the place with no advertising at all had the cheapest price. Now, is it important to know a good price on an item that you might buy once every two or three months? Absolutely not! But for the things you consistently buy, know what a good price is. Also, as you can see, just because an item is “on sale” does not mean you can’t find it somewhere else at a cheaper price.
I also try to check online circulars/flyers before heading out each week, to give me a heads up on which chains have which items on special. Since I do most of my non-produce shopping at Kroger’s and Publix, a quick glance at their online circulars before my weekly trip out usually gives me a good idea of where I want to buy my particular items. It is maddening to pick an item up at one grocery store, only to go to the next one and find it less expensive.
Am I trying to make your grocery shopping into a marathon? Something you stay up till the wee hours of the morning, staring bleary-eyed at your computer screen, trying to save 15 cents on a gallon of milk?
Hardly! Before I changed my shopping habits, I spent about an hour per week doing grocery shopping. Guess what? Now, I might spend 1 ½ hours. It takes a little research and shopping around in the beginning, but once you factor in these new habits into your weekly routine, you’ll find that it doesn’t take that much extra time at all.
I truly believe that grocery shopping, done correctly, is an art. And since it is my second biggest monthly expense, I think it is well worth investing a little time into to make sure that you are getting the most out of your shopping dollar.
For more ideas about how to save more and spend less in your everyday life, visit me at Yourfinances101.