Supermarket Savings Tip #6: Ask yourself “Is this a good deal?”

Want to cut your grocery bill?

Always ask yourself, “Is this a good deal?” when you pick something up to put it in your cart.

Here are four ways to know whether something is a good deal for you:

1) Will you use it?

This might seem like a no-brainer question, but it’s amazing how many items we’re tempted to buy that we won’t really end up using. Will you really use that 50-pound tub of coconut? If not, it’s not a good deal for you, even if it’s a great price.

2) Do you need it?

If you already have 69 bottles of shampoo at home in your bathroom cupboard, you probably don’t need to buy 10 more bottles–no matter how good the deal!

3) Can you afford it in your budget?

If you don’t have the money to pay for it, it’s not a good deal–even if it’s only $0.25!

4) Could you easily substitute something you already have for it?

Maybe that bottle of sweet tea is a great deal at the store, but could you easily whip up your own pitcher of sweet tea using ingredients you already have at home?

What questions do you ask yourself in order to determine whether or not something is a good deal?

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Comments

  1. Wendy says

    For me, the big question is “What would I be buying/using/doing if I didn’t buy this product?” For some things, the answer is “running out of my stock at home and then buying more at regular price because we go through so much of it” – so it’s worth buying on sale no matter what. For other things, such as candy, the answer is “Not eat it and not really miss it” – so no matter how good a deal that candy is, I am spending more money than I would have otherwise!

  2. Michelle says

    one of mine is, “Is it healthy or is it a treat?” If it is a treat, then, “How many other treats do we already have at home?” or “Would I (or my kids) rather have this than have some home-baked cookies?”. Usually, I put back whatever the junk food item is, no matter what the price.

    • Michelle says

      Thanks Michelle, that is so helpful. My husband is a snacker, loves treats in his lunch, and complained when I stopped buying snacks. So this last month I’ve been buying crackers, cornnuts,… I didn’t realize how much I had until I put everything on the shelf. Wow! I don’t need to buy treats for a loooong while. I love your question, instead of asking if we’re running out of crackers, I need to ask if we have other treats.

  3. K* says

    #1 seems like a no-brainer, but it took me a really, really long time to acknowledge that I dislike store-brand frozen vegetables, even if they are .25 cheaper than a name brand with coupons. I kept buying them, because THEY WERE SUCH A GOOD DEAL!

    Well, it’s not a good deal when you don’t eat the darn things.

    • anon says

      I agree!! Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more. I liked #4 also—the homemade sweet tea would taste better too!!

  4. says

    These are EXACTLY the things I’ve been attempting to ask myself no matter what store I find myself in. It’s not always easy, but it does make a difference.

  5. Marie says

    I definitely agree. I think that sometimes it’s easy to get in the mode of “getting deals” and not realizing that you don’t need to buy it every time. If you have a great stockpile then you could actually save each month by skipping those items.
    I am actually trying to see how much i can save each month before I have to buy any health and beauty items or household items. And for food I am trying to just buy milk, eggs, cheese, bread, and produce.
    All this week i was tempted to get a large sweet tea for $1 at McDonalds!! But I kept reminding myself that I could make a gallon at home with my ice tea maker so that’s what I did! It has been our most used wedding item.

    • Rachel says

      Sometimes I get sick of chasing deals. And I do these exact things and try to stay on budget.

    • Sarah T. says

      I agree completely. Sometimes when I see the coupon matchups at Rite Aid or CVS, my heart starts pounding in anticipation of getting there before the stock is gone. That’s usually my sign that I am seeking the “good deal” rather than needing an actual product. Plus, I have 4 kids 5 and under, so getting back before the rewards bucks expire could be hit or miss. I usually tell myself I’ll go on Saturday so I don’t have to haul the kids in with me, and by then it’s not that big of a deal (literally) and I’d rather stay home with my family than go out shopping for stuff I don’t really need.

  6. Meredith says

    There is a sesame street skit…is it a sometimes food or anytime food. Telly monster is in a game show and they keep giving him foods and he has to say whether it’s a sometimes food or anytime food. Not only is this a great “game” to play with your preschooler, when I am shopping, I ask if it’s a sometimes food or item or an anytime food or item. Sometimes foods are candy and chips and sometimes items are thinks like nail polish. Anytime foods are fresh/natural foods and anytime items are things like dental floss and deodorant. It keeps me grounded to remember what my true needs really are.

    • Tricia says

      I love this idea. Not only great to teach the little person, but also good for mom. I think we all have a tendency to count more items as “needs” when they are really just “wants”.

  7. Sara says

    Ive asked that question to myself since I was younger?
    Do I really need it? Even if it’s a good deal,am I gonna use it? Or will it just sit there.

  8. Catherine says

    One big one I always ask myself, is the store brand comparable and cheaper? Even with a great doubled coupon the store brand can sometimes be less expensive and fulfill the same need.

  9. says

    I always try to ask myself if the store brand is worth it over the name brand. In some cases, I will get the store brand, but not for everything. There are some taste differences. I also ask myself if it’s truly healthy or not and read those ingredients! If it has questionable ingredients (or artificial sweeteners, then to me that is NOT a good deal since I stay away from that stuff!) ;0)

  10. kim says

    Will we consume it before it expires. I got mayo once for less than a dollar so I bought a few. I used 1 and threw the others away because they expired. I didnt notice before so I couldnt even give them away.

  11. Stacey says

    A question I ask myself is “is this ACTUALLY less expensive than normal?” “tricky signs” can be convincing that an item is a great price, and should be bought on that merit. BUT! If I’m thinking clearly I may realize that even that “great price” is higher than at another time of year or even the regular price at another store.

  12. Michele says

    Sometimes I overdo it on coupon deals. Recently there was a promotion on Solo paper plates where, with a coupon, it ended up costing less than .50 per package. I bought quite a few (limit of 4 packages each time at this particular store) and on Saturday morning, the last day of the sale, I was home from work and had some coupons left. I was about to go out to the store to buy 4 more when I asked myself, “If someone called me on the phone right now and said, hey, get dressed and drive for 15 minutes to Shoprite – you can buy 4 packages of paper plates for .50 each,” would I do it?

    And the answer is NO! It’s one thing if it’s on my way home, or I’m in the store anyway, but making a special trip on a Saturday? Made me realize that often it’s the “thrill” of getting something near free, rather than getting something for which I have an immediate need.

    After all, my time is worth something too!

    • Kari says

      That’s where I usually catch myself, too. Sometimes I end up spending more in gas than the savings!

    • Andrea Q says

      Gas and upkeep on a vehicle is expensive. Driving those 15 minutes (and back) chewed up any cost savings you might have gotten from the cheap paper plates.

  13. Jan says

    For me, another question to ask is “Can I donate it?” For example, I can regularly get Suave deodorant for 25 cents when the .75/1 coupons are available (one of my stores doubles), so I’m always picking those up. They go straight into the donation box in my garage, and then to the food bank. If it’s free, nearly free, won’t expire next week, and I don’t have to go too far out of my way to get it, I’ll stock up for the donation box even if I don’t need it or don’t use it. That’s one of the things I like best about couponing.

  14. Liz says

    I do think it’s important to give yourself small rewards from time-t0-time to stay motivated, so here is what I do which is fun for me and kind of like a game: When I am grocery shopping, I usually pick out one small treat and I write down the price of it on my list. Then, after everything else is rung up, if my total is below the amount of cash I have in my wallet for shopping, then I add in the price of the treat I picked out and if the total is still under my budgeted amount, then I buy it and feel like I won. It’s fun to still be able to buy yourself an edible treat knowing you are still UNDER your budget. :P

  15. April M. says

    I really struggle with this problem too and I think mine is based on fear with the economy. I worry I will not be able to afford food or pet food or cleaning items.
    I am working on this every day though and this site certainly helps put things into perspective for me!

  16. Patricia says

    DONATE what you don’t need or want. Just dropped off 20 boxes of cereal at a shelter this morning. They were so grateful.

  17. Michelle says

    I just experienced another reason to think before I jump on that great deal. A few weeks ago there was a toothpaste deal where I received a $5 coupon towards a $6.99 beauty purchase at Wags. Well, that great deal turned out to be a pain. I spent nearly an hour walking around Wags trying to find out what I could buy that would only cost $1.99 after coupon and that I needed. Turns out I don’t need anything, I don’t wear makeup, and I wound up giving the coupon away. So, next time I’m going to make sure that the “free” items I’m getting are really free. It’s not a great deal if I have to spend $1.99 on a product I don’t need. Another thing I look at is tax and postage, if I have to pay tax and/or mail in a rebate form, that “free after rebate” item isn’t such a great deal.