I have always been a Wal-Mart shopper and want to get away from it, but I keep going back because it is convenient or I’m afraid of spending more on the necessity items like milk, bread, toilet paper at the other grocery stores.
Do you spend full price on the necessities at grocery stores even if it ends up being more than Wal-Mart prices? I really don’t have time to go to more than two stores a week.
Ah, Erica, I hear you – both on being afraid to spend too much on necessities, and not having time to visit more than two stores per week!
Here’s some tips that kind of guide my personal philosophy on this. I think it’s different for every person and every budget, but hopefully these tips will give you some ideas and encouragement in this area.
Try to keep “the necessities” limited to what’s on sale or in your pantry.
If I’m going to have to pay full price for something, I think long and hard (ok, that’s a little dramatic) about how necessary it really is. If I can only get bread for $3 per loaf, and I don’t have any in my freezer, I’ll likely figure out something other than sandwiches to make for lunch that week.
On the other hand, while we don’t drink milk for health benefits in our house, we do use quite a bit of it for cereal and cooking, so even if it’s not on sale at the stores I’m planning to shop at, I’ll buy it anyway.
We just generally try to eat what’s on sale or what we have in the pantry so that I’m not paying full-price for the main ingredients in our menu for the week.
Make sure there are many things that are cheaper at other store, not just one or two.
I do go to Walmart on occasion, but never for just one or two items. Even if butter is 50¢ per pound less at Walmart than it is at King Soopers, if there aren’t quite a few things that I need at Walmart I’ll just buy it at King Soopers.
To me, shopping at another store needs to save enough money and get enough products that it’s worth the time and gas. For just a few items, I think it’s often better to pay more at a different store – even if you would theoretically save enough to cover the cost of gas to go to the other store.
If your budget is super-tight, it may be worth saving just a few dollars more than the cost of gas to go to an additional store or two. There have been times when it has been worth just a few dollars in savings for me to take the time to go to another store.
Know your prices: the stores you think are cheaper aren’t always.
If you haven’t checked prices at Walmart in awhile, I would strongly encourage you to go in and note the prices of the things you normally buy. My guess is that you’ll find that King Soopers’ prices are pretty close to Walmart’s these days, especially if they are on a “tiny” sale at King Soopers.
In fact, I recently read an article that said an item-to-item comparison of Walmart and Target found that Target was actually cheaper on that particular day. The article pointed out that that was partly because a few of the items compared were on sale at Target, but I find that to be somewhat of a mute point since everyone other than Walmart usually has some sort of sale on, what, maybe 50% of the items you buy?
Don’t put pressure on yourself to always, always get the lowest price.
I used to do this – a lot. I am now here to tell you that we do not have the lowest grocery budget in Colorado Springs, and I’ve finally come to terms with that being OK. I’m OK with spending $100+ on groceries and household items every week because that’s what it takes to fix my family enough food that is nutritious and that they like to eat.
I don’t stress anymore about paying full price for a pound of butter anymore if we really need it. I still stock up when it’s at a rock-bottom price, and when we run out I’ll use that full-priced pound of butter sparingly, but I don’t kick myself over paying $2.99 instead of $1.99. (I’ll admit to getting a little shaky when butter is over $3/lb. ;))
Again, if I am out of butter and it’s not on sale that week, I will not be making chocolate chip cookies or shortbread – but I’m OK with paying full price so we can use a tablespoon or two here and there.
Provide for your family’s needs, cheerfully!
Ultimately, my personal goal is to feed my family well, make the most of our family’s income, and glorify God in the process. If shopping at another store every week puts so much extra stress on me that I’m not a happy mommy, it’s not worth it. If it saves such a minimal amount that my time would be better spent doing something else to stretch the family’s budget, it’s not worth it.
I think you have to look at your budget and decide what’s best for your family: spending time to save a little extra money, or finding another way to save on spending that requires less time and stress.
How many stores do you shop at every week? How do you decide which ones make the grade?
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Welcome to Springs Bargains, a service of our real estate business, Circa Real Estate Group! I’m Carrie, and since 2008 I’ve been sharing free and discounted ways to eat, play, and enjoy life in Colorado Springs.