One of the best ways to get ahead financially is to know how to shop smart, without diminishing your lifestyle.
Reduce your costs at the grocery store simply and easily each week with these tips:
Clip Those Coupons. Sift through your Sunday newspaper, magazines and circulars, or download and print coupons from Internet coupon banks. Make sure that the coupons you clip or print are for items that you would be likely to buy, even if you didn't have a coupon. Some Internet coupon sites allow you to print only the coupons you know you'll use. You simply place a checkmark near the coupons you like and print them before you go to the store. Whichever coupon method you choose, make sure to keep your coupons organized with an inexpensive coupon organizer so you aren't spending a lot of time at checkout sifting through coupons.
Luxury versus Necessity. Determine what constitutes necessity as opposed to luxury. A bottle of shampoo is a necessity. An expensive salon styling hold gel is a luxury. If there are luxury items you love, price them at various online retailers and order from the site that offers the product at the most significant discount. Use a coupon code, too, if at all possible.
Reuse and Reduce. Try to eliminate disposable containers as much as possible. And think about ways you can reduce the quantity of an item that you use. For example, my family pours a great deal of cereal, and we used to leave a good deal of it in the bowl. Teach your children to pour just a bit into the bowl, and assure them they can always go back for more. Try diluting fruit juices, as well.
Get the Family Involved. Your family members may be more excited about helping in the process of reducing the family grocery budget if there's a common goal. Let them know what those pinched pennies will be used for, whether it's a Disney vacation or a contribution to their college fund. Or maybe you are cutting back at the store so the family will be able to enjoy other amenities, such as premium cable channels, and high-speed Internet connections. When everyone is informed of the reasons for cutting back, they are more likely to be supportive, and to help out in little ways. Make sure to ask your family members for their own money-saving ideas, too. Work on coming to an agreement as a family as to which products you can do without, and which you absolutely must have.
Flexibility. Do not be afraid to try different products and brands. You may have been loyal to one brand of laundry detergent over the years, but many soaps and detergents contain the same ingredients, and most detergents will get your clothes clean. Consider selecting lower-priced store brand items more often.
Specials and Discounts. Check with various grocers in the area for double coupon days and special discounts. Some supermarkets offer "buy one, get one free" sales on many items such cold cereals, breads, soft drinks and more. Just make sure you aren't buying in quantities larger than your family can consume. Browse through the discount rack for non-perishables and slightly damaged packages such as cosmetics, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes. And look for after-holiday specials on meats such as turkeys and hams.
Eat Before You Go. There are so many impulse items available, and grocers know our weaknesses. Candy, potato chips and other junk foods are much easier to resist when your stomach isn't rumbling.
When Shopping with Kids, Remember that "No" is a Complete Sentence. While purchasing the "I want" items may save temper tantrums and sulking fits all the way home, it will not help your pocketbook. Once you begin to practice being firm on a continuing basis, those episodes will decrease.
Grocery List. Make a list of the items you need and try to stick to it as much as possible. Bringing a list with you while you are at the grocery store will help keep you centered and focused.
Household Hints. Become familiar with various household tricks and tips. For instance, you would be surprised how many uses there are for vinegar, baking soda, lemons and salt. Rubbing salt inside the cavity of a chicken before cooking will keep it moist, and a solution of white vinegar mixed with water can be used to clean your coffeepot. (Just remember to run a few cycles of cold water through it afterwards to rinse.) Lemon juice and baking soda can be used to clean your sink drain. Even old aluminum foil pieces can be crumbled up and used to scrub barbecue grills in place of scouring pads.