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As I talk to groups and different people around town I keep getting the same few comments. “I see what you save every week but I just can’t figure out how you do it” or “Can you just come shopping with me once?”
Here is my secret: If it is not listed on Southern Savers for that week, I don’t buy it! It’s a pretty simple secret. I have managed to be able to shop only getting what is on sale by building a stockpile. When something is listed on Southern Savers as a great price I don’t just walk in and buy 1, I go in and buy enough of that item to last me until the next time I am going to find it on sale again. Most of the time that is about 6-8 weeks. For example last week I bought 10 Knorr Sides.
The concept of making a grocery list of things that you are out of, or in need of, is the way that grocery stores want you to shop. Publix even has nice little shopping list pads they will send home with you. If you are out of an item then you are going to put that item into your cart no matter the price. If I ran out of peanut butter for example, I would go out immediately and buy it no matter the price or else lunch as we know it would stop in our house.
If you are just starting out then continue to make the list that you have to make but along with your list add in the items that are on sale this week. I don’t care if you just bought it at regular retail price last week, buy it now on sale and stock up so that you don’t have to get it again in a couple of weeks. Slowly you will find that your stockpile is growing and your “needed shopping list” is shrinking. It will take the full 6-8 week sale cycle before you will have everything you use on a regular basis stocked but once you reach that point it is a wonderful day. Now you are no longer at the mercy of the regular retail price and you can name your own price for everything you use.
One disclaimer – only stock up on items that you use. Even though I make the list every week I still delete over half of the items on it before printing it out and going shopping. If you buy everything just because it is a quarter you will save nothing in the end. However, if the store is going to pay you for an item (overage) then grab it and think of charities that can use it. The local shelters here are in need of everything from coffee to toothbrushes.
A Few tips:
Don’t ever skip a week of shopping. I know you don’t really need to ever go shopping now that you are stocked, but if you skip this weeks sales remember that most of these items won’t be back on sale for a while. Do you really have enough to get you through another entire sales cycle?
We do not have any brand loyalties and we also have no random eating quirks so we are open to most everything that comes on sale. I had never purchased Sara Lee sandwich bread before but they gave me a coupon making it FREE, I’m up for it. Turns out it was some of the best bread we had ever eaten.
If a price is the best you are ever going to see then don’t just buy 8 weeks worth, buy all that you can. For me that was taco shells recently at Kroger. We eat tacos every few weeks so really I only need 4 boxes to get me through a sales cycle. With sales and coupons though I was able to get them for .20¢ each a few weeks ago. A normal good price is between .50-.80 cents. Since this was a price that was 50% off the rock bottom price I would search to find I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I had enough coupons to buy 14, so I did. They will keep just fine and for my 14 boxes I paid $2.80… you can’t pass that up.
Where to put it all once you get it home:
We thankfully have a decent sized pantry but other great places to stick stuff are, to put shelves in under stairs or over washers and dryers, get storage bins and put it under your bed. Canned goods and other non perishables will be fine in your garage. Sort out your items and store like items together. We have a personal care stockpile in our bathroom, a cleaning goods stockpile in the laundry area and food in the pantry. I also have a separate freezer in the garage that allows me to get more frozen items. If you only have one freezer/refrigerator though you can still get a lot in there. Freeze things flat (like paper – smash hamburger meat down etc.) with the air out of bags. If you do have a second freezer area remember that the more you put in it (i.e. the more you stockpile) the cheaper it is to run your freezer. They are much more efficient packed to the brim.
Lastly, here are the most common excuses I hear:
“I can’t do this because there is just me, or just two of us.”
That’s just what you tell yourself, maybe it makes you happy. I would say you could do this even better than me with just one of you. Where I need to buy 10 boxes of cereal, you might only need 4. I buy 12 lbs of hamburger meat you buy 3lbs. Your monthly bill should be a fraction of mine and your storage problems nonexistent.
“The things that I buy don’t come on sale.”
Everything in a store comes on sale at some point, even if it is a few pennies off. There are also great coupons out there for a wide range of items. If you are in love with some random item from France, I can’t help you. If you truly watch you will see that even Kashi, pita sandwiches, and probiotic yogurt go on sale. Will you save as much as us? No, but you will still save.