Friday, April 17, 2009

A Bargain is Not Always a Bargain

Thursday is the day that the Stop and Shop flyers come with the mail. Now that I've gotten somewhat savvy at spotting the bargains, I find I'm getting quite annoyed at the stores scams. Many of their "sales" aren't actual sales at all but a ploy to get you to buy more than one item.

Each week, Stop and Shop has been advertising Old El Paso taco dinners 2/$5. Do they not think that we know that the normal price of 1 dinner is $2.50?. That's not a sale, it's a marketing gimic.

I think the best thing I could have ever done was make a list of base prices of products that I usually buy. I keep a huge list on an excel file and keep it in my coupon holder for reference. It helps me decide each week where the real bargains are. With my calculator in tow, I can now calculate the unit prices to see if it is an actual sale or not.

Granted-there are some good sales. This week Chicken of the Sea Tuna is on sale 10/$10. That's a $1 a can and I would buy all ten cans since we go through a lot of tuna and I am running low in the pantry. Tuna here is normally priced at $1.69 a can so buying 10 cans at the sale price saves me $6.90. Remember that you don't have to buy all 10 cans to get the sale price.

Keeping the pantry stocked and hitting these big bargains has helped me to not purchase items like tuna and pay full price just because I needed it that week. We can now pull from the pantry and restock when items go on sale for huge savings. Sometimes that means waiting a few weeks but with a well stocked pantry this shouldn't be a problem. Most of the items go back on sale at least once a month so it gives you plenty of time to stock up and take advantage of real sales. You can usually find pasta, canned vegetables, rice dishes and salad dressings on sale 10/$10. Having a few coupons helps a lot too if you can find them on these items and will often result in you getting a few boxes of something free. And restocking doesn't always mean buying all 10 items. Decide what works for you and your pantry depending on your family needs and the space you have. Certain items in our house require more of a stock than others. Pasta and sauce are always depleted very quickly so I keep a larger stock of these items on hand. Canned beans-not so much so I can get away with less of a stock.

Progresso soup is on "sale" this week 2/$3. Again, base price is normally $1.50-$1.69 so not really a sale there. I always stock up on the 10/$10 sale of progresso soup. It's important to remember not to be suckered into something just because the store lists it as a sale. Things aren't always as they seem.
My kids are excelling at homeschool consumer math. Each week, we go through the paper together and find out what the real prices are. It's really helped their math skills as there is so much dividing and multiplying. Saving money has become a job for the whole family. Morgan's job is to count the money in the quarter jar. All of our spare quarters go in here and several times a year there is enough money for a special dinner out or a day trip. This is the kids money and they get to choose what they want to do. It really makes for a special time and encourages them to save. There are lots of ways to live simply and that doesn't mean doing without. It means reinventing what is important to you and finding ways to make it all work.


BECKY! said...

I've noticed that about S&S flyers too! Half the stuff on it isn't even "sale" stuff! It's annoying.

That's awesome you include your kids in on your shopping planning! It is a great way to teach them math!!

Valerie Willman said...

I read about this tactic in "The Tightwad Gazette" a couple of years ago. It sounds brilliant but totally overwhelming for me somehow. I've ever gone so far as to write down all the prices for the stuff I buy at three or four different stores so that I can compare them, but I don't know where they all are anymore.

Plus coupons don't generally work for me because I notice that they are always for things I would never buy anyway.