Shopping smarter

Posted on Sep 28 2012 in General

stk325519rknThe local television news this morning reported grocery prices would be rising 2-5 percent because of this summer’s drought. No big surprise there. Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable, and it can affect us hardest in the pocketbook. But since grocery shopping always has to be done, no matter what the items cost, it’s not like we can boycott the supermarket until prices go down (as if they ever will go down!).

The reporter promised to share several secret tips to offset higher prices as she began her on-air segment. Some of these suggestions were apparently included in a Time magazine article. I’m all about saving money so I assumed I’d get some hot advice on how to significantly cut my grocery bill.

Instead I learned I’m already a savvy shopper.

Time suggested buying fresh fruits and vegetables in season when prices are lowest. As someone who counts fresh Indiana corn on the cob, strawberries and green beans among her favorite foods, I can tell you, produce that is in season also tastes better. Why pay more for something that’s not as tasty? Of course, you probably already knew that, too. So much for a Time magazine exclusive!

The best day to go grocery shopping, said Time, is Wednesday since the newest sale prices take effect then and the store shelves are well-stocked with those items. If your schedule is flexible enough to shop mid-week (mine isn’t), you may also want to head out in the morning since the manager’s meat specials are usually put out then. However, woe be to you if you want some discounted fresh-baked bread. You’re more likely to find that in the late afternoon.

I’m an obsessive couponer who studies advertising circulars and thumbs through a file of clipped coupons before making out my shopping list. So I was surprised that anyone would need to be educated about saving on their grocery bill by using cents-off coupons. But using coupons was one of those special money-saving tips shared on the news. Coupons are free money, and I don’t see how anyone can not take advantage of the savings in this day and age. So are store loyalty cards which can instantly discount prices at the check-out.

What I learned this morning is that savings strategies are nothing new. We’ve been using the same tips for a long time. But that money-wise attitude is something we need to pass down to our kids and others who may not realize paying full price is not the only option. Because if prices keep going up, they’re going to need to know how to shop smarter.