Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Get the Best Prices on the Things You Need

Being die-hard frugal people, the hubby and I always try to get the best price on everything we buy. Being fairly wealthy, the SIL doesn't really care about price tags. Every time the SIL goes shopping, hubby tells her "you can get that cheaper at..." She just rolls her eyes. Now these people are in their 60s so it's kind of cute to see them acting like older teenage brother/younger sister instead of the seniors they are.

Anyway, hubby's latest comment was on soda. The SIL went to Costco and bought a case of soda in the can for around $6.99. We were at the local Kroger store and found the same soda in the two litre bottle for 85 cents each. When we got home, the hubby pointed out the great price to his sister. She rolled her eyes...again.

We have a few methods for getting the lowest prices on the things we buy...

For material goods (clothes, TVs, etc), we look at our cheapest options in the community (Dollar Store, Discount Store, Walmart, on sale at a big box store, etc) then go online to compare prices. I'm not much for buying used things but plenty of people I know shun all of these options in favor of finding the items they want at garage sales and on CraigsList (which is a super cheap way to get stuff as prices are usually 10 cents on the dollar this way). Another way to stretch your money while buying material goods is to look for substitutions. I may be looking for a 50" name brand television but can I live with a 50" TV of another brand that costs $400 less or a slightly smaller TV which will also save hundreds of dollars? In most cases, the answer is yes. What we also ask is can we do without? Obviously this saves the most money and reduces the clutter/stuff we will eventually get rid of considerably. Finally, an option which is kind of between buying and doing without is borrowing or renting an item. This has become more popular as people realize that they don't need to buy a fancy lawnmower/edger/weedwhacker/etc when the items will just sit idle in the garage 95% of the time. A better option is for each neighbor to buy an item and share it with everyone else in the neighborhood saving both money and the time/upkeep/storage space to keep it.

For food, our options are similar. The first thing we do is look at store advertising circulars and find the lowest prices offered for the things we want (generally we build our menus around what is on sale instead of building menus then trying to find low prices on the items needed). Next we look at all of our shopping options: grocery store, Walmart with food center, military commissaries, Dollar Stores, discount grocery stores, even the local quick stop market sometimes have great prices on staples (like a gallon of milk for $2 or 10 pounds of potatoes for $1). Again, like with material goods, we also look for substitutions (sometimes when we get to the store and look for a sale item that is on our list, we may find the same item in another brand cheaper than the name brand sale item), and we look for substitute items as well (ie: if mozzarella cheese has a cheaper price than the swiss cheese we planned on buying, we determine if this different product will work for what we are making and usually go with the cheaper option). Occasionally we go to our last option which is doing without. I haven't had salmon since we have been in Atlanta simply because the price here ($9 a pound) is astronomical compared to the price we pay for salmon in Seattle (about $5 a pound). Finally, sharing is possible with food too. At home we often have "potluck" type meals with friends and relatives and if someone finds an awesome price on an item, such as a case of bananas for very little money, we tend to share these as well.

I am a little freaked out by how quickly and astronomically prices are rising on many of the items we use everyday however with the methods above, we are still able to get the things we want and need at a reasonable price.

1 comment:

  1. The price of groceries sucks to say the least! :( I'm still able to stay (mostly) under budget, but without sales we'd be hard pressed for sure!!