Frugal ideas for saving money and finding bargains. Learn when a dollar is worth more than a dollar, how to use coupons and stockpiling secrets.
Here is a question for you: If you go to the store with a dollar, how many $1 items can you purchase? This is like one of those tricky math word questions. Maybe I should add some more wording to make it more complicated.
Mary drove to the store at 55 miles per hour for 20 miles and arrived at 5 p.m. with one dollar in her pocket. She parked eight spaces from the front door and went to the clearance aisle first. Using coupons, Mary got five items for $1.00. How many coupons did she use and what did she purchase?
The answer is that no one really cares, but hopefully people do care about saving money and that is what this article is about. The truth is that you can get a lot more than $1.00 worth of items with a single dollar bill.
Finding Bargains and Saving Money
If you are serious about saving money, then finding bargains needs to become your part-time hobby. It is rare to arrive at a store and find a great deal without doing a little leg work first. Instead of just catching these hit or miss bargains on the very rare occasion, what if nearly everything you bought was a bargain? What if you found a bargain each and every week of the year? What if you could save 50% or more on most purchases? Then, would you say that your dollar would be worth more than $1.00?
The Frugal Life
Saving money and being frugal is a lifestyle. The longer you seek out bargains, the easier living the frugal life will become. You will also learn tricks like when certain stores in your area put things on sale, so that you can get the best deal possible. There are many ways to do this, but this article will touch on the basics so you can get started saving money right away.
Groceries – Big Expense = Big Savings
If your family is anything like mine, then groceries may be one of your biggest expenses. Our family of four was spending about $400-$600 a month on groceries. We weren’t eating shrimp and steak, at least not all the time. This was just normal snacks, produce, chicken, dairy products, etc. We also did not eat every meal at home. As I looked at our expenses, I quickly saw that this is an area where we could really rack up some savings with just a little work. There are two basic ways to save money with groceries and both are fairly simple. If you are extremely short on time, get the whole family involved in clipping coupons and finding deals.
Do you think clipping coupons is a waste of your time? Let me present this idea to you. Coupons are just like cash. That’s right. Let me give you an example.
Nearly every week I buy Clementine oranges, also called “cuties.” My kids love these little pieces of fruit and I feel good that they are eating something far healthier than chips and junk.
A couple of weeks back, there were coupons in the paper for .50 off a 3-lb. bag of cuties. My grocery store doubles coupons up to .50, so that coupon was worth a dollar. (*Note: Many stores no longer double coupons.)
I clipped the coupons out while watching our favorite shows . Clipping coupons is mindless and it didn’t require a lot of effort. I like to multi-task, too.
When I went to the store, I used the coupon and saved $1.00. That is $1.00 in my pocket that I would not have had. I would have bought the cuties anyway, but they would have cost $1.00 more.
Times this by about 30 coupons a week, which is not that many to sort and use (only on the items you regularly buy, and you’ve saved about $30 a week or put an extra $1560 in your pocket each year. Wow! That pays for a small vacation. So, clipping a few coupons can take you around the world, one coupon at a time, if you love to travel.
Grocery stores put out circulars every week listing the items they have on sale. These are usually really good deals, meant to entice you into coming into the store in the hopes that you’ll buy many other items that aren’t on sale.
However, if you plan ahead, you can get these loss leaders for next to nothing, stockpile them and save a bundle. Your $1.00 can suddenly be worth $2, $5 or even more. The better your stockpile, the less items you’ll be forced to buy each week and the more money you’ll save.
Here is a recent example from my own shopping. I noticed that one of my favorite grocery stores had the deodorant we like to use on sale for 1.09 for a small container. While it is a bit smaller than the larger one, it isn’t tiny by any means and will last several months usually per person.
I happened to have a few coupons for .50 off (doubled, that is 1.00 off). These deodorants that were normally worth 2.59 would now cost me only .09 each. I quickly called several friends who keep coupons for me because they “can’t be bothered with all that clipping” and gathered up enough coupons to purchase about 20 deodorants. For $1.80 plus tax, I purchased enough deodorant for a year.
That was for less the the normal price of one deodorant. As we get down to the last five or so, I will keep my eyes open for another deal. Because I no longer have to buy deodorant for a while, I can now apply that 2.59 I would normally spend toward another loss leader and stockpile that item.
When someone mentions stockpiling, so you immediately have nightmares about the show Hoarders ? Keep in mind that a stockpile doesn’t have to mean filling every corner of your home with stuff. My own stockpile typically has around five or six of each item unless I find a phenomenal deal on something like the deodorant.
Our family of four can only eat so much peanut butter before it expires, so I don’t keep 20 containers on hand. I keep three to five small ones and those will last most of the year. Figure out what your family needs and be reasonable.
Also, think about where you can store items. I added a small plastic shelf in my office for toiletry items, so I can stockpile deodorant, shampoo, bath soaps, etc. It is the perfect size and everything is arranged in its own slot neatly.
Extra food is stored in the pantry or freezer. Once those are full, I stop, no matter how good the deal. Toilet paper and paper towels are stored in a guest closet. Again, once the allotted space is full, I stop.
Extra detergents are on a shelf over my washer and drying. It is rarely full, because finding great deals on detergents is a challenge, but I do have several of each thing.
Get creative and keep in mind how much your family can reasonably use. If you have a huge family and tons of extra space for your stockpile, then stock up and enjoy the savings.
Don’t be afraid to pick up discontinued bedding that the store is clearing out. While the item might not be that exact thing you want, do you like it okay?
Can you live with it? What about if you knew that buying clearance items can save you a couple thousand dollars or more each year? That’s yet another vacation! Paris, here you come.
Visiting online forums can save you time and help you stay up-to-date on the latest deals. The ones I like to visit include:
There are also numerous money saving mom forums online that offer ideas for even more ways to be frugal and save money, such as making your own laundry soap or the best deals going on in your city.
If an item you truly want is not on sale and not likely to go on sale, then ask for an extra discount. Recently, I took my 18-year-old daughter to Guitar Center. She had her eye on a starter electric guitar kit that cost $249.00.
It wasn’t a bad deal for all she was getting, honestly, and the best price we’d seen locally. However, she mentioned she also wanted a hard case for it. I told her I was going to teach her a lesson about saving money.
I went up to the salesman and told him she might (key word here) be interested in the guitar package, but was also thinking about buying a hard case and if she bought both could he offer me a discount?
He said no that they had a low price guarantee. Most people would have said okay. Not me, because I’m the “Crabby Housewife” and I have to always try to get a discount or something thrown in. I wasn’t crabby with him, though.
I said, “Not even some money off to help cover all that sales tax?” He then smiled and said, “Well, if you sign up for our e-mail list, I think they’ll send you money off. In fact, with what she would be spending, I think you would get $50.00 off.”
He then offered to let me use his computer to sign up and print off the coupon. Wallah! Simply by asking, we saved $50.00. That is $50.00 in her pocket that she would not have had and to a part-time working high school student without much money, that is a lot of bucks.
I hope that she learned a valuable lesson from the experience and I hope that you learned a lesson from my retelling it. Always, and I mean always, ask for a discount. They might say no, so ask in a different way.
Finally, if it is still no, try to get them to throw something in for free. If he had not offered the coupon, I would have then said, “Well, can you offer a free lesson for her since she’s spending over $300 today?” You can ask for whatever you want. The key is to ask.
You can also talk to a manager if the salesperson says no. Managers will often give you 10% off and may be authorized to do other deals that the salesperson can’t. I do want to stress to ask nicely and be polite, however.
Whose Dollar Is Worth More Now?
When this article started, my dollar was worth more than yours. I could stretch a dollar bill into several, such as the example of my deodorant purchase. Now that you’ve read the article and have an idea of how to get started saving money and finding bargains, your dollar may now be worth more than mine.
I’d love for you to come back and comment on any deals or savings you’ve experienced as a result of reading this article. Happy savings!