Okay, so I'm writing this post as much for myself as for anyone. I've realized lately that I need a serious reminder of this! But wait, I'm kind of getting ahead of myself, am I not?
One of the easiest- at least in theory- ways to save is by simply planning ahead. What I mean is that you always keep the basic items you need on hand and if you know you are going to be needing something special for say, a party, you try to get that at the lowest price possible ahead of time.
What is the advantage of doing this? Well, think about it. Say you can typically get butter on sale for $2.50/lb. but, because you didn't plan well, you run out of butter and realize that you need butter NOW. So you run to the store and the cheapest butter you can get is $2.80/lb. You just "wasted" $0.30 by not planning ahead. True, often your savings might be less than $1.00, but it really does add up!
Here are some tips for saving by planning ahead:
1. Know what you typically use and the lowest price you can usually get it for.
I try to know where I can get items like flour, sugar, oatmeal, butter, ketchup etc. for the absolute lowest price possible. And my goal is to either get the item on sale for lower than the lowest buy price or else to get them at the store I can get them the least inexpensively, paying regular price. Yes, this take a little planning, but it really does help me save.
2. Think ahead to what events you might be hosting or need to take food too.
When I look at sales and coupon match-ups, I try to think ahead to what extra things I might be needing in the next couple of weeks, and add those things to my shopping list. For instance in the summer I watch for sales on hot dogs and try to stock up when I can get them really cheap. Then when we decide to have a cook out or get invited to a picnic and need to take hot dogs, I don't have to pay full price for them. Over Christmas I know that I typically make homemade party mix. So starting in June, I begin to watch for sales on Cheerios and Chex cereal so that I am not stuck paying $2.00 for a box of cereal that, had I just planned ahead, I'd only have paid $0.50 for.
I got burnt twice recently with this. I had two birthday parties that I knew I was going to be having, but somehow I just didn't do so well at planning ahead and ended up paying way more than I normally would for several things. Yes, this is just life, but it still is annoying when I know that if I had just planned ahead I could have saved several dollars.
3. When you open a box of something, add it to your grocery list.
This might seem like a no-brainer to you, but I'm surprised at how many people don't do this. If you add peanut butter to your list when you open a new jar and you still have enough left to last you a bit, it allows you some time to look for a good price on peanut butter instead of being forced to pay top price.
How do you save money by planning ahead? What other suggestions do you have to be efficient at this?