Friday, November 16, 2007

Grocery Shopping...Frugally

We went grocery shopping on Monday, and as I was shopping I realized I have learned some things that have saved us a ton of money over the past few years. A lot of the things I've listed below may be really obvious to the savvy shopper, but they have definitely helped me since I've had my own family.

Most recently, I learned that equal quantity is not equal weight. This is very obvious in fruits and vegetables, but when you buy tortillas, and the two packages are sitting side by side, both 20 count, and one is cheaper, do you take the time to see if there is a difference in weight? Or do you just pick up the cheaper one? You could get 5 oz. more of tortillas for pennies. I've caught myself doing this time and again, because it's easy just to scan the quantity and price. The same with ice cream- they all seem the same size, but is one a half-gallon and one 1 1/2 quarts? If you pick up the 1 1/2 quart just because it slightly cheaper, you are probably not getting the best deal.

This also holds true for eggs at our store. The boys eat eggs for breakfast. On Monday, a dozen large eggs cost $1.86. I looked at the jumbo eggs, and they were $1.98. The large eggs were 24 oz and the jumbo eggs were 30 oz. It was only .13 for 25% more eggs! (The large eggs were .0775 cents per ounce. The jumbo eggs were .066 per ounce.) We needed those few extra ounces of protein for our growing little boys!

I noticed I never buy anything on the end cap (end of the aisle) without checking the section to price compare (or if you had one, a price book). On our way out, I saw a bottle of Karo syrup I needed for $1.93 in the holiday baking section in the main aisle. I picked it up, then went to the aisle where the rest of the corn syrup was located, where I saw the generic brand, same size for .92. I can tell you, I rarely find an end-cap item that is cheaper than it's competition.

I also always use competitor ads at Wal-Mart. They will price match local sales as long as they aren't what they call gimmicks- buy one get one free, or buy one get one for a penny. I added up the savings the last time I went shopping. I saved $12 on products I normally buy just by bringing in the ads.

Another strategy that saves our family a ton of money is don't be afraid to speak up. When I am shopping I look at the price of each item I buy when I pick it up. When I get to the register, I catch so many pricing errors because I watch the screen as the cashier scans each item. Don't feel bad for asking for the price they listed- it's your money, and you have the right to request that they honor their listed price.

On Monday, I bought some lemon juice and the price was off by 8 cents. I politely told the cashier the price it was supposed to be, and she quickly changed it for me. I had two, so I saved .16 just by saying a few words. On occasion I have had to wait while a manager checked the price. It has saved us so much money to carefully watch for price mistakes while checking out, and then after checking out, scanning the receipt to see if we had missed anything.

Wal-Mart also has a policy that if an item rings up incorrectly (and they go to verify it), you get the item for free if it's less than $3.00 or $3.00 off if it's more. A few weeks ago, we bought noodles that were on clearance on the end of the aisle, and they rang up at normal price. We didn't catch it until after we paid, so we went to the service desk and got a refund and got the item for free.

To get the most savings while you are shopping, the most important thing of all is to take your time. Comparing weights and quantities, checking prices, shopping competitor's ads, and watching carefully as you check out all take your time and concentration. I have seen in our lives that with just a little bit of extra time and effort you can save a ton of money at the grocery store.

Check out more frugal living tips at Crystal's blog.
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