This year, in response to rising prices, we'll be increasing the size of our garden. I'll concentrate on veggies I use most like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, and those that store well like Brussels sprouts, soybeans and corn.
The other thing I'll do more of is stock up whenever I notice a loss-leader at the grocery store. It's a hard mindset to learn because storage space is usually at a premium and logic dictates not to buy something we won't use right away. But if I find toilet paper for pennies, I will make a place to store it.
But what makes a good buy? This is where price books come in handy. I have a fair recollection of what makes a good buy on any given product. But if you're still new at this, keep a little notebook and jot down the prices, sizes, and the store where you saw these products.
Price book illustration:
Also, bear in mind that some sales on staples are cyclical. They'll go back on sale about every 12-16 weeks, so if you do shop the sales, make sure you purchase in a 4-month quantity, so you won't have to pay full price in between sales.
Comparison shopping: Again, price books come in handy. Just because you shop a 'discount' store doesn't mean they'll have the lowest prices. Comparison shopping might seem like a lot of trouble at first, but once you set up your ledger, half your work is done.
I use Google a lot to do my comparisons on big ticket items, particularly electronics. Aside from using comparison sites like Pricegrabber or Shopzilla, I also use epionions and Amazon reviews to narrow my search too.
Coupons: Google to the rescue again. Since I no longer get a newspaper, I rely on digital coupons.
Now here's the thing about coupons. They're time consuming and they're often for name brands of products I usually buy in generic. But partner that with your lowly price book and you'll start to notice a pattern. Coupons tend to appear a few weeks before these products go on sale.
I have a long list of coupon sites that update daily. All of them feed through my Google Reader. It's passive couponing at its best. If I see something I need, want, or is very high dollar, I go to the site and print the coupon.
Many, many times, I get free products. In the past month, I've received pain relievers, cereal, shampoo, dog cookies and scads of year-long subscriptions to magazines. (Magazines like The Smithsonian, Taste Of Home, Organic Gardening, and Martha Stewart's Living.) And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
These products were all free. And they were either full-sized or generous samples. All I had to do was click on the link if it interested me. Otherwise, I deleted it.
I have scores of coupon and freebie sites I browse, but here are some of my favorites.
If you don't use a reader, put them on an RSS feed so you can get emailed updates. I get too much email which is why I use Google Reader, but use whatever is more convenient for you.
I apologize that these are geared for the states, but you'll find something similar for your regions if you do a little sleuthing with the keywords, 'coupons' or 'free samples' followed by your country's name. I tried it with Canada and the UK and both came up with lots of entries.
One word of caution: Many sites ask you to fill out a form in order to receive your freebie. I have an email address that I use specifically for this function. This way if they turn out to be spammers, they don't clog my regular channels of communication. FWIW, I've never been spammed, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.
Was this helpful? Are there any sites you use to save money? Please don't hesitate to share. I will update this post with a link back to you if you have more to add.
Has anyone made any "Great Buys" lately with or without coupons? Do tell.