Sometimes I am simply blown away by my wifeâ€™s creative saving tips when shopping. If you donâ€™t know that merchandise at Costco is not cheap, then you don’t know nearly as much as her. My family doesnâ€™t use the Costco executive card to get the 2% savings because we cannot justify 2% with our low amount of purchase. To break even on the additional $55 that we need to pay (from $45 to $100 for the executive card), we would need to spend at least $55 / 2% = $2750 a year. Even if we spent $2750, we would need to save an average of 1.6% on the price to justify the $45 basic membership card.
Okay, here are the tips from my wife:
1. Grocery shopping with coupons: When she buys grocery, she scans through ads first, and picks out the on-sale items that she wants. Then she matches the on-sale items with whatever coupons she has clipped. Also, the grocery stores (like Ralph’s) that have double-coupons are her more preferred stores. This process takes some time at home, but we’ve probably never walked out of a grocery store with less than 35% in savings from the regular price.
2. Stocking up: She stocks up on-sale items (with coupon savings) for the future (on a limited basis). She also pre-shops for gifts throughout the low seasons in the year.
3. Limit Costco purchases: When buying at Costco, you must understand that you are getting quality products at a reasonable price. Less quality products in general will cost less at other stores. And on-sale items at other stores can often beat Costcoâ€™s price. But the biggest saving that you can get by not buying at Costco is that you donâ€™t end up buying more than you need. Either you throw away the additional quantities on what you cannot consume, or you stock them up and put away in no-manâ€™s land such that you cannot find it when you need it again. However, Costco has regular saving coupons mailed out, and those are really good-priced items.
4. Placement of the coupons: Leave the grocery coupons in the car, and restaurant coupons in your wallet. Often you canâ€™t find the coupons when you need them. Since you donâ€™t go out without your car or your wallet, you wonâ€™t go out without the coupons this way either.
5. Clearance: Pay attention to clearance items/clothing in department stores. They are often very inexpensive as in Walmart, Target, Mervyn’s, or Old Navy. But the quality is much better.
6. Timing: Time your purchases throughout the seasons & holidays. If you are buying a new car and donâ€™t mind getting the current year model, August is often the clearance time on current models. At the end of August, school clothes & supplies often go on sale. October is the best month for pre-holiday shopping, or you can wait until after Christmas and New Year’s, and stock up on all kinds of bargains. Also buying clothes off-season will save you some bucks too.
Oh, I have a shopping tip of my own, too. For those husbands out there, when you buy stamps, DO NOT buy those beautiful Disney stamps. I repeat, DO NOT buy those Disney stamps, because your wives will love them and wonâ€™t allow you to use them. Postage may increase to more than $1, and she still wonâ€™t let you use it. But DO use those stamps as a frugal, but romantic gesture.
By the way, I didnâ€™t know a lot about grocery shopping tip #1 until I shopped for groceries alone once. That day in the supermarket, I grabbed several items quickly and checked out. When I paid my grocery bill, I was a little shocked. I only bought 6 or 7 items, but the bill was more than $20. I was more used to walking out with 5 or more big bags, and paying maybe $50 or $60. So I rushed home and told my wife: â€œDear, inflation is REALLY picking up. Look, this cauliflower cost almost $4. That is outrageous.â€ And then she told me that it was because they were not on-sale. Whew! I thought inflation was some 20% on food items 🙂 .