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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}

Shop at More Than One Store

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

When I mention how I save a lot of money by shopping at more than one store, I’m often met with resistance:

“But I don’t have time to go to more than one store! I can barely make it into Walmart once a week.”

“That’s not saving money! You’re wasting all sorts of time and gas running around to fifteen different stores in one day. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective and efficient to just do all your shopping at one store each week?”

“I’m glad that works for you, but I don’t have near the patience or organization to even attempt something like that!”

Let me be clear: I am not advocating going to 15 different stores that are 45 minutes away from your home in order to save $2 at each store. That’s not saving money, in my definition. Instead, that’s wasting enormous amounts of time and effort and producing little to show for it but wear and tear on your vehicle and an exorbitant gas bill.

What I am advocating is taking a little bit of time to scout at your nearby stores each week and pick a few which have the best sales and deals. Then base your grocery trip planning on shopping only at those stores.

How to Get Started Shopping at More Than One Store

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:

  • Co-ops
  • Dollar Stores
  • 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)
  • Asian Markets
  • Bulk Foods Stores
  • CSA’s
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • 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.

Shop at More Than One Store

2) Visit Your Area Stores and Record the Prices of 25 Items You Routinely Buy

Thanks to Joy at FiveJs, we have some handy free downloadable Price Book Forms you can use to record these numbers:

  1. 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.
  2. Price Book (by Product) :: Record the prices for a particular product at multiple stores.
  3. 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) 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.

Shop at More Than One Store

4) Consider How Much Time You Have to Invest

Time is money. So if it’s scarce for you, don’t expect that you’ll be able to spend six hours grocery shopping each week. That’s just not feasible or realistic.

I’d suggest that you be willing to set aside at least two hours each week if you want to see fairly significant savings. Invest 30 minutes in planning and clipping/organizing coupons and an hour and a half in shopping. In that time-frame, you should be able to plan your shopping trips and shop at one to three stores. It might sound unrealistic right now, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

But I Don’t Have Two Hours to Spend!

Maybe you don’t. But how important is saving money to you? Is it worth giving up time spend watching TV or working on a hobby? Look at your schedule and see if there is something you regularly do each week that you’d be willing give up in order to save money.

You might find that clipping coupons and reducing your grocery budget can become a fun hobby in and of itself. And it’s one of the best hobbies ever because it doesn’t cost you money, it saves you money. Plus, it greatly benefits your family!

If you have more than two hours to invest per week, you can tailor your plan accordingly. Perhaps you have time to hit four or five stores, instead of two. Or maybe you have time to research more deals and clip more coupons. Do what works for you. However, don’t overdo!

Shop at More Than One Store

5) Rotate the Stores You Shop At

When the weekly sales change in your area, sit down and quickly scan the grocery store fliers (most larger chains offer their fliers online), your price book, and your coupons, and decide which stores are running the best sales. Keep in mind what your schedule is for the week and what areas of town you’ll already be in. Based upon which stores have the best deals and what your schedule looks like for the week, plan your shopping trip accordingly.

Even though I’ve been bargain-shopping for years, I’ve rarely shopped at more than three stores in a week. A more normal week would include a stop at either Aldi or Dillons (a Kroger affiliate) and a stop at the health food store to look for mark-downs.

However, for years, I’ve rotated the stores I shop at, depending upon the sales and what coupons I have. Over a six-month time period, I may have shopped at nine to ten different stores–but I never shop at all of them in the same week, or even in the same month!

That’s the beauty of shopping at more than one store. You don’t have to shop at five stores each week, or even more than one. But you can rotate which stores you shop at every week in order to get the best deals and lowest prices.

Note: Don’t Feel Obligated to Hit Every Deal

I think one of the biggest mistakes new bargain-shoppers make is that they discover this world of great deals and get so excited about all the money they are saving, that they go a little overboard. Pretty soon, they are completely burnt out and go back to spending large amounts at the grocery store each week.

The better approach is to take it slow. Pick and choose the best deals to do and don’t worry about hitting the others. There will always be another sale on milk and cereal or whatever else it is that seems like such a great deal at the time. Pace yourself and you’ll find that you enjoy it a lot more.

In addition, realize that it’s okay to step back and take a break every now and then. Sometimes, I’ll shelve my coupon box and just do my shopping at Aldi for awhile. Or sometimes, we will just skip shopping and eat from the pantry that week. Maybe I didn’t get the rock bottom prices that week or miss out on some stellar deal, but over the course of the year, it’s much more money-saving and sanity-saving to pace myself.

Do you shop at more than one store? Why or why not?

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  • TopPic says:

    I really enjoyed your piece on, ” 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}”.

  • Susan says:

    Years back when I shopped around, I found that whenever I went into a store for their “specials,” I would get other things that weren’t on special, that were also maybe more expensive than my regular store. I admire shoppers with the will power to stick to the list!

  • Ashley says:

    I like to shop a different stores 🙂 I shop at winco kinda like your aldi I think for spices and stuff out of the bins . Then on the other hand I like stores like Safeway they have awesome clearance on meat and I got two say yes to carrots shampoo for free like a month ago. It just depends what I need and feel like .

  • Analisa says:

    This has helped with our grocery budget tremendously! I buy most of our staples and hard to coupon for groceries from Aldi. We hit Sam’s Club every few weeks for certain things. Then I head to Sprouts and Homeland depending on how their sales are for the week. Since there is a lot of competition around here the stores tend to run really good sales I can stock up on. I know those stores pretty well so it doesn’t take long to get what I need. Thankfully I have a lot of willpower so I’m not tempted by non sale items when I hit each store. We didn’t have this kind of variety where we used to live which was hard on our grocery budget. I’m so grateful to have all of these options now. We eat so much better for so much less than we used to. I don’t mind the shopping around at all.

  • Erin says:

    I do shop at more than one store and thanks to your website (learning how to play the drug store game), I’m getting things for free that I was getting at Costco. Now I can make that trip less frequently. When I don’t have time or the energy to coupon, I head for the local produce market and Trader Joe’s where the prices are low across the board.

  • Kristin says:

    I do shop at more than one store. I primarily shop at Aldi for food, and supplement with four other grocery stores for items that are on sale, and things I can’t get at Aldi. I rarely shop at all of them in any one week. For toiletries and personal care, I look for sales and get them when the prices are low, at either the grocery stores or drug stores, or Target. I find this is the best system for me to save money without using up too much time.

    When I had a lot less time, and a lot more money, I did shop at just one grocery store and Rite Aid or Target for personal care items.

    • Ann says:

      Ditto this. My main weekly grocery run is to Aldi, which is close to church (15 min drive away); I hit Kroger for a mid-week milk pick up and whatever the loss leaders are. I used to play the CVS game, but we moved and will be moving again soon, so I’m not stockpiling or couponing extensively any more. We generally get meat from a butcher, but got a Groupon deal a while ago that we are still eating through 🙂

  • Victoria says:

    I routinely shop at 3 stores each week. They are all on the same road and all within 5 minutes drive of each other. There are at least 6 other stores I shop at for groceries that are not even in my own town. When we have a reason to be in a town with one of those 6 stores I stock up enough of what I know is cheaper there than in the 3 stores available in my own town for at least a month and sometimes up to 3 months worth of stuff. This is probably the biggest way I cut our grocery bill costs. And yes a price book is key for this, unless you have a brain like my one friend who seems to remember the price per ounce of every product at every store by memory 🙂

  • Robyn says:

    I used to spend about two hours a week on shopping–hitting several stores for the deals. It was worth it, at that time, in that season of life.

    Now, my kids are older, and in school all day. I really enjoy shopping ALONE, but find I can let it take over my time, which isn’t good. (Since I also work part-time!)

    Now, I pretty much just shop at Aldi and Costco. I hit Costco once a month for meat, coffee, frozen veggies, bread, and a few other “staples.” I go to Aldi every week for everything else.

    Once in awhile, I venture out to another store for a deal (or convenience), but this is my regular routine. I’ve kept our grocery bill reasonable, and for this season of my life, it works!

  • Korilynn says:

    Where we live there is really only a few stores. Smiths usually has the best deals, especially when things are on sale that blow Target and Walmart out of the water. Lately every time I go to Walmart I cant believe how expensive they are when compared to Smith’s sale prices. So I haven’t gone back. I sometimes take advantage of coupons a Target when they have killer deals though. I think it’s all where you live. Some people just have more store options.

  • Kim says:

    I shop at several stores that are close together and occasionally two stores that are a little farther away, but in my town. I generally only buy sale items & stock up when possible on those. I check the pantry/refrigerator/freezer to prepare meals. Our HyVee started price matching as long as I bring the ad with me. I price match at HyVee & WalMart depending on the item & rebate opportunity. (I price matched a natural food store’s produce item at HyVee & received a Saving Star rebate for that item. I also price matched cereal at WalMart using a manufacturer coupon, & then received $1 Jingit & $1 Ibotta rebate last week. That was a money maker. The key for me is checking the ads AND being organized. I make a shopping list per store including the store I’m price matching at & price, (as well as circling the item I’m price matching in the ad), with any coupons & rebates under it.

  • Jessica says:

    I routinely shop at Target, Kroger and Meijer. I used to also do CVS and Walgreens but I have found that their deals aren’t as good as they were 4 or 5 years ago.

    Target has had some great specials in certain categories of items that I use and I’ve recently figured out that I can use mobile coupons without a smart phone. I also use their printable coupons, manufacturer’s coupons and Cartwheel. A few weeks ago I got a bunch of their store brand up & up household and personal care items that we needed for about 80% off the retail prices by combining discounts. Last week I got 81 cans of cat food for my cat for $8.48, regular price would have been around $41. This week I got $102 of baby supplies (swim diapers, regular diapers, lotion, wash, formula, bottle brushes) for $46.

    I just stopped at Meijer this morning and stocked up on cheap strawberries to freeze for making smoothies. I also got some other groceries. I’ll make a stop at Kroger later in the week for a handful of items from the Mega sale.

    I’m a stay at home mom / freelance writer so I have the time and the stores are all within 3 miles of my house. I usually have my 15 month old and 3 1/2 year old along with me on my grocery shopping trips too.

    About 3 or 4 times a year I visit Sam’s Club. I share a membership with my Dad. When I go there, I get a few items in bulk that I can’t beat the prices on anywhere else, such as yeast.

  • Great tips! I really agree with you on this one.
    It’s rare that I shop at the same stores every week. Although Aldi does fit into my shopping very regularly. Some of my favorite finds are at surplus/outlet grocery stores.
    I also am a huge fan of Costco but I know not to buy everything there.
    It’s rare than I even get to a regular grocery store any more. The best deals usually are found other places. I try to hit 2 stores a week and rotate where I go.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • lisa says:

    don’t forget you can price compare at walmart. I bring in the weekly ads and price compare all the great deals at walmart but prefer to get my meat from Fry’s or safeway, whichever has the best deal that week. Lucky for me they are both on the way to Walmart which is 10 miles away! Also, I make a weekly run to Sprouts, a health food store for fruit and veggies as they seem to have the best deals.

    • Yes! Thanks so much for mentioning this!

    • margaret says:

      Yes, just what I was going to say. With three little kids it is hard to even make it to one store sometimes. I do shop a rotation (CVS about twice a month for most toiletries and a few groceries like cereal; Sam’s club about once a month for big bulk like cheese and meat and some fruit, and Krogers maybe 1-2 times a month because often the sale prices are not all listed in ads and cannot all be price matched), but otherwise, I do all shopping at Walmart which happens to be closest and cheapest on most things–as well as being a one-stop shopping for other things…Great with kids. Their coupon policy is one of the most friendly, their return policy is super generous and they price match almost everything saving me soooo much time!

      • margaret says:

        oh, and diapers are almost always cheapest at CVS too. If Target were on normal route, their deals are often good but just too out of the way for me to hit except on rare occasions that deal is too good to pass up.

        • Tammy W. says:

          I’m in the same boat, w/ 3 littles, plus we live at least 30 min. from most stores. (CVS is more like 45 min., & off our “beaten track.”) Do you find their deals to be better than Amazon Mom w/ Subscribe & Save?

          I find that Rite Aid can be close sometimes, but my luck means they’re usually out of the sizes I need. The convenience of having them shipped to my door & not take up cart space is huge for me, as well. 😉

  • magdalena salameh says:

    I shop at several stores too! But I try to stock up on certain items until I return to that particular store, so I don’t shop at every store every week… I know what are the specific items I buy in each store. I shop at Aldi every week, but I buy toiletries at CVS/Walgreens/Target depending on coupons and deals for that week. I buy bulk items like olive oil or rice or cat litter at Sam’s Club or Costco. I go to Publix to stock up on their buy one get one free deals- if the price comes out cheaper than Aldi. I also go to Dollar tree to stock up on bread, kids arts and crafts items like crayons or coloring books. I also have a Kroger which I check out for their clearance section. They have amazing bread prices (49 cents a loaf, which I freeze) and discounted produce as well as some discounted items (dented cans for example). I try to check out about 3 stores each week. I buy specific items at each store and I go with a list and coupons in hand. I try to go to 2 different stores at a time, either after work or after taking my kids to school. I plan all the shopping each week, I look through my coupons and sales papers. I have strong will power luckily and I don’t buy what’s not on my list unless I find something on clearance, deals which I cannot pass!

  • Joy says:

    I am fortunate that I have 3 major grocery stores within a mile of my house along with an Aldi’s, Target, Walmart and a BJs within 2 miles of my house. So yes I shop at all 3 grocery stores each week and supplement witth the other throughout the month.I do the bulk of my groceries at the one that gives me the most gas points. My grocery budget is $100-150 a week for a family of five (1 teen boy, 2 tween boys, myself and dh). That does not include household and beauty items. Just food. I budget $60-100 for that depending on what we are out of that week.

    I spend an hour each day preparing for my weekly Friday grocery trip. Searching, printing, clipping snd sorting coupons, then doing match-ups. Usually I tackle it after my kids are in bed while I watch TV. My boys are older and not involved in many after school activities. I also work 20-30 hours outside of home each week (unless school vacation). So this is do-able for me. But I can certainly understand why someone with young kids or someone who works 40+ hours outside of home might not be able to accomplish this.

    I do not do drugstore deals because they are complicated and have too many rules. Plus, it’s hard enough to get my grocery and Target deals straight and organized without having to worry about the drugstores. My advice is to just do what you can for the season in your life and not stress about it. There will always be some weeks you save more than others.

  • Jay Kay says:

    I shop at 3-4 stores a week, plus Costco about every 3-4 weeks. Since I started couponing I go to Costco less and spend less there. I have 2 grocery stores in town, plus a 99 cent store and a Target and Walmart right next to each other! I shop the sales ads at the grocery stores, and I do most of my couponing at Target because they are better at taking coupons and Cartwheel is an awesome addition! The 99 cent store has fresh produce and a good bread aisle, plus I get a lot of toiletries and snack items there. They also have the best milk price in town! They don’t carry 1% milk there, which I prefer, so I started buying a gallon each of 2% and nonfat and mixing them to get 1% milk! That saves me a couple bucks a week alone! I shop stores first thing in the morning to get the marked down meat and produce.

  • Jay Kay says:

    By the way, how about another pantry challenge! I could easily do at least two weeks!

  • Tara says:

    I do shop at more than one store and typically I save quite a bit of money per week on groceries! If I don’t have time to shop at different stores I will go to Walmart and price match!

  • Cynthia says:

    One tool that has helped me tremendously is an app (and AFAIK it’s only an app, sorry desktop users!) called Flipp. It tracks the sales flyers for stores all over the map, so I can see at a glance whether Walgreens or the local Centrella affiliate has a sale going on orange juice. (Even if you have a mom and pop grocery, check to see what their “house brand” is — they may well be affiliated with a larger group like Centrella or IGA!)

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