Yesterday, we talked about the importance of shopping at more than one store and how this can have significant impact on your grocery budget. Today, I want to give you some steps to get started in this venture. It’s not rocket science, I promise!
1) Make a List of All Stores in Your Area
Don’t just list the grocery stores, think of any possible place you might be able to buy grocery-related items:
::Scratch and Dent Stores
::Overstock Stores (Big Lots, etc.)
::Big Box Stores (KMart, Walmart, Target)
::Warehouse Stores (Costco, Sam’s Club, B.J.’s)
::Drug Stores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid)
::Bulk Foods Stores
::Health Food Stores
I’d recommend searching online or pulling out the phone book to see if you have any of the above stores in your area if you’re not sure. And ask your friends and neighbors if they know of any great places to shop which you might not know about.
If you live in a small town, this should be simple. In fact, you might only have two stores to choose from. (And if you only have one store to choose from, you’re exempt from any of this legwork!)
If you live in a larger town or big metropolis, this is going to be a bigger undertaking. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, limit the stores to those within a 5 mile radius or which are close to areas you regularly frequent.
2) Visit Your Area Stores and Record the Prices of 25 Items You Routinely Buy
- Price Book (by Store) :: Record the prices for products at a single store. This can be done first, and then the information transferred to individual product sheets like, like the Price Book (by Product) form below.
- Price Book (by Product) :: Record the prices for a particular product at multiple stores.
- Half-Sheet Price Book (by Product) :: Record the prices for a particular product at multiple stores, but laid out two to a page.
Once again, if this feels overwhelming, just pick two or three grocery stores to start with. You’ll have plenty of time to branch out in the future.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew and end up burning out on this whole bargain-shopping thing before you’ve even really started!
3) Find Out What Your Local Stores’ Coupon and Mark-Down Policies Are
Questions to Ask Regarding Coupons:
::Does this store double coupons? If so, up to what amount? Are there limitations on the doubling (some stores will only double one or three of the same kind of coupon per transaction.)
::Does the store accept expired coupons?
::Does the store offer store coupons which can be used in addition to manufacturer’s coupons?
::Does the store accept competitor’s coupons?
::Does the store mark down produce, dairy, and meat on a regular basis? If so, what days and times does this usually occur?
4) Determine Which Store(s) Regularly Have the Lowest Prices and Best Sales
After filling out the price book forms and finding out your local stores’ coupon policies and mark-down policies, you will have a pretty clear picture of which stores are best to shop at on a regular basis. However, most stores run their sales cycles every twelve weeks or so, with a few incredible sales and loss-leaders thrown in on occasion. To get a more accurate picture, I’d recommend tracking the sales at a few stores for three months.
This does not mean that you necessarily need to go to five different stores and fill out a price book form every week. But I would recommend scanning the sales fliers each week and actually visiting each store at least once a month.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to take this information gathered and make a shopping gameplan which will, in turn, reduce your grocery bill.
Of the different stores listed above, which ones do you regularly shop at and find the best deals at? Have you discovered any little-known places for scoring great deals? Tell us about them!