Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Power Shopping 101

Someone emailed me asking my strategy towards shopping and how to get started on the path towards frugality. Each family is different but for us these are the key points:

  1. If you don't have a budget begin by tracking your expenses for a couple of weeks and documenting your key or repetitive purchases. Once you know how much you are spending begin by aiming towards 80% of your average.
  2. Initially I distributed my budget giving me an allowance to stockpile. This allowed me to spend money on items I did not need immediately. Having a stockpile budget is particularly important for Pharmacy Games such as CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens. Crystal teaches you how here.
  3. Select your top 5 stores. For me it is CVS, Walmart, Target, Kroger and H Mart.
  4. From your budget set aside $5.00 each week towards bulk purchases. Also add any surplus you may have at the end of the week towards this fund.
  5. If no sale is available high value coupons should be used in your cheapest store. Coupons with potential for doubling or tripling should be used at stores offering these programs.
  6. Set aside 10 minutes each day for internet coupon printing. High value coupons reach limit fast
  7. Set aside a night a week for menu planning a coupon cutting.
  8. Plan your menu against the items already available in your pantry and only buy whatever extras you need. Use your surplus to buy items on sale
  9. It is ok to buy meat from the daily specials rack. Freeze it or use it right away.
  10. Buy your rice at the Indian Store your beans at the Mexican store.
  11. Vegetables are cheaper and more varied at ethnic stores. I like Fiesta and H-Mart.
  12. Take advantage of the gift card offers by Target. Combined with coupons these offers are often great fun. Keep your gift card for rolling into the next offer
  13. Load all digital coupons to all store cards.
  14. Go to a store with grains and nuts by the pound and buy really small amounts of dry fruit and nuts to add variety to many dishes.
We currently spend $40 per week. This includes all groceries, toiletries and cleaning supplies. We cook all three meals at home and I pack lunch for my husband.

Part II coming soon

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