Monday nights around these parts are my grocery night. Each week, I spend mondays recouping from the weekend, playing with the kids because it's my day off and writing a list. We go throught the cupboards, we look at recipes that I plan to try and I chronicle the needs and wants in my good, ol' buddy - Grocery book. I then load into the Mom-mobile and zip from place to place trying to get it all done in under 2 hours.
Grocery book is how I survive the bazillion places I need to go on Monday nights. See, I'm a frugal shopper, sometimes I'm down right cheap. Necessity and my need to have control over everything possible has taught me to be very cautious with what I spend our money on. Each Friday when the newspapers arrive I sit down with GB (Grocery Book) and make note of which stores are offering sales that may pertain to Monday's list and clip/order any applicable coupons. Then after the compolation of monday's list I'll compare to the sales and mark down where to go to get my deals. By keeping it all in a book I don't lose my list, I don't forget it at home and I can check back. I can look back on the list from the previous week and see what I didn't get or what I did that I don't remember buying (let's face it people, my memory is not what it used to be), it's been a life saver.
It might sound tedious but in fact it's saved us a bundle over the years. I look at sales and coupons as someone handing me cash. Let's say for instance diapers (of whom offer tons of coupons and rewards if you check online) have a sale on, (which Huggies, Pampers and the pull ups of each brand are on sale at one of three places each and every single week - true story) and you also have a $4 off coupon, which I did this week and they are on your shopping list, you are saving $9 on one item. If you chose to just buy it where it's convenient and don't use a coupon because it makes you uncomfortable, it's time consuming or I don't know why, you are taking $9 and putting it into the garbage can. If you multiply that $9 by 2 times a month by 12 months, you save yourself $216 a year. It all adds up in the long run. The big kicker is to remember to only buy what you need. A sale is only as good as what you need that week. If you already have 6 months worth of tissue paper at home spending the money on them now, even if it's a sale doesn't get you anywhere. All you're doing is spending money to store a product, instead of putting it towards something you need right away or better yet, popping it into a savings account. Because remember, if something goes on sale once, it'll happen again.
I'm one of those people who buy it on sale, buy the No Name brand, or the one that's cheaper to save what I can. Most of the time. There are a few areas I've learned not to cheap out. Working in retail for as long as I did, I learned that many store brands are actually manufactured by the same places as the National Brand and by buying the store brand you're not paying for advertising. Many but not all, and while most things you don't notice the difference somethings you absolutely do.
And while I'm totally all about getting a deal, I also want a good bang for my buck and I want what I purchase to be the quality I need it to be. And so I've compiled my Splurge vs. Save list, you know the things I'm totally happy to dish the dough for and the ones I'm not...
Shampoo - Splurge While I'm not a fan of spending $60 a bottle on shampoo every month, I do search for a good deal and purchase some good suds for my locks. I have long, healthy hair and after years of not being able to afford the good stuff and suffering through the junk, I splurge on some serious hair care. Lucky for me I'm as frugal under the faucet as I am in the grocery aisle and I can make it last a very, very long time.
Mustard - Save I can't tell the difference between French's or cheapo so I vote cheapo. I never just sit down to a spoon full of the yellow stuff, it's always in something so why worry save a little, I say.
Feta Cheese - Splurge Once a week as my treat to me I make a greek salad and scarf most if not all of it. I've had to forfit so many of my food loves due to the corn allergy, that I hang on really tight to the treats I still can have. And I've tried the cheaper Feta, the store brand and the deli kind, nothing beats my favourite name brand, nothing!
Canned Tomatoes - Save My mom and I can tons and tons of tomatoes each summer but inevitably by March we are out. And since, I'm a tomato lover, it is necessary to re-stock my pantry with more. I've tried the National Brand and the Western Family ones and have made a shocking discovery, WF is superior. It's flavour is better, it's quality is nicer and I don't have to pick through tons of tomato core pieces.
Body Wash - Splurge This is body wash for Corey. Now I used to be of the school "Bar soap is fine" WRONG. After many trials, it is worth buying the good stuff for how clean he gets/feel and how simply sexy the boy smells when he comes out of the shower. Mmmmm, I'm not sure who the splurge is really for him or me.
Diabetic Chocolate - Splurge "What?!" you ask, who's diabetic. Nobody, the thing is we have consitpation issues around here with the girls and a chunk of diabetic chocolate works wonders. It's safe and has no medicine in it, but the fructose is a natural laxative and helps things get moving. I tried cheap drugstore chocolate and it tastes like chalk so I splurge and get the Purdy's Chocolate. You can't tell it's diabetic and because they both only need a small amount it lasts a long, long time.
Ketchup - Save This is one of those things where I really don`t notice a difference so I go with whatever is on sale. This time of year Heinz is usually on sale somewhere and I`ll chose name brand first if it`s a deal, but when it`s not I`m totally fine with the no name brand.
The list could go on and on, but you get the drift. Those things aside, I watch for sales on specialty kids clothes, shop online and do my best to save as much as possible without sacrificing quality. It's what works for me and it's been a saving grace when our belts have been tight.
What's your Splurge item? What one thing do you buy the best of the best regardless of price because to you it's a necessity? And for that matter, where do you save? What tricks do you have up your sleeve to save a little extra in the pocket book?