Saving Money on Everyday Expenses

You want to use your money wisely, and if you’ve been listening to any of the episodes so far, you know that I encourage you to get on a budget, and make sure you know where your money is going, and get control of your finances.

One of the worst ways to handle your money is to spend spend spend and have no idea where all your money went! Then you look up from all that spending and realize you don’t have enough to pay the bills!

If you’re not already, get yourself on a budget. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, just a simple budget like the one I have for the free download on my own website.

No matter what your financial situation is, budget or no budget – financially secure or financially struggling – you don’t want to spend more money than you have to, especially on things you use on a daily basis.

When you pay more for something than you know you should, it’s usually because of time. For example, when you buy something in a convenience store that you could get in a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target for much less, you’re trading money for time. It’s called a convenience store because it is convenient. Prices are high, but you are spending a little more money so you don’t have to spend time going to a store like Wal-Mart or Target. So sometimes, you have to evaluate if your time is worth the money you save to go out of your way.

Another example is buying gas. If you can save ten cents a gallon by driving to a gas station that is out of the way, rather than stopping for gas at a more convenient location, you should evaluate whether your time to drive to the cheaper gas is worth a dollar to fill your tank more economically.

But if you have more time than money, at this stage of your life, you may want to re-think the convenience store, and with a little planning a economizing, those few dollars and cents can add up, and really make a dent in your budgeting.

So, if you’re on a tight budget or even if you have money to burn, you probably would like to spend the minimum.

I have a plan for you today to save money on products you buy repeatedly.

It’s a good idea to find out where to buy those items for the best bargain.

Not too long ago, Ellen hosted billionaire Bill Gates on her show, and got him to play a game where his knowledge was tested on how much everyday items cost. You can see that episode HERE. It was fun to see him struggle to come up with prices for things most of us are used to buying. But truth be told, how many of those things could you or I accurately price? He guessed prices of things like food items, hygiene items, and detergent. If you are in a new store, can you readily notice whether or not the prices or higher or lower than you buy where you normally shop?

That’s what I want to suggest to you today. Find out how much you are paying for things you buy repeatedly – the staples of your household – and see if you could save significantly by shopping somewhere else. Even if you don’t end up permanently changing stores, you need to at least know if what you’re paying is a good price or not.

I have a tracker you can download and use at or you can make your own. Using the tracker, make a list of items you purchase consistently. Think through all the categories –

  • Food – staples like bread, milk, cheese & meat
  • Produce – fresh fruits and veggies
  • Drink – soda, juice, water, alcohol
  • Personal – bath & beauty and hygiene products
  • Paper – paper towels, toilet tissue, etc.
  • Cleaning – detergent, dishwasher soap, etc.

Print out the list of your regular items, or save it on your phone, and have it in hand for the next few weeks. The next time you shop at your regular store, note how much you pay for these items.

Then for the next few weeks, shop at a different store each time and note how much each of these same items cost. And don’t just go to the big grocery stores, the Kroger, Publix, etc. Try stores that carry those items like dollar stores, big box stores like Target and Walmart, and pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS.  Here in Nashville we have Big Lots, Aldi’s, and Dollar General that carry food for less.

You may find that there is one store that you will save at overall, or that there are some items that are significantly more or less. Once you end the experiment, you probably don’t have time or the desire to run all over town for bargains. You may just want to note which one has the overall best savings and shop there regularly, but stop occasionally at one or more of the other stores to pick up things that are significantly cheaper.

Some people find they save by buying in bulk at stores like Sam’s or Costco, but personally I never found that to be significant for me. And if you have a membership to one of those, certainly you should track the costs there too.

There are a few other ways you can cut costs when shopping for everyday items. Here are a few:

Rewards cards are an easy way to save. For example, at Kroger, if you have a rewards card, you get discounts on lots of items, plus you get points that apply to discounts on gas for your car. They’re free to sign up for, and you just have to scan your card or key in your ID. The store will also sometimes send you a tailor made coupon booklet each month based on your shopping history.

Consider trying the store’s own branded items. Sometimes they are just as good as the more expensive name brands – but sometimes not. You just need to try it to see. You can also research those products on line to see the product reviews so you don’t waste money on something that may not serve you well.

Coupon clipping can be helpful, especially if a store doubles them. But don’t get carried away – you need to figure out if it’s worth the time it takes to save a dollar or two. I used to love watching the shows where people would go into a store with a handful of coupons and come out with their shopping carts full, having only spent a few dollars. I could just never make it work like that for me!

I also look on line for things I buy regularly.  With Amazon’s delivery, I find that it’s cheaper and much more convenient to get dogfood by ordering it.

And speaking of on line, more and more stores have the service of ordering your groceries on line, and then just pulling up and having them loaded into your car for a minimum cost. If you are an impulse shopper, or you’re strapped for time, that’s a really good way to shop without having to go up and down every aisle.

Those are just a few of the ways you can pinch pennies. Because any money you DON’T spend in one place is money you can save, spend, invest, or donate somewhere else.

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