Most couponing websites are all about how to save money while shopping. However, that’s still spending money in order to SAVE money. The trick is to keep from spending your money at all.
Buying Just To Save
I fell for this in the beginning, spending money using rebate websites and coupons, but really I was spending more than if I had not known about “the deal” in the first place. I started clipping coupons, but realized that most of the products that offer coupons aren’t the ones that I would buy for my family. They are either unnecessary or simply convenience, prepackaged, processed foods, or products that have a much cheaper generic version.
Shop the Edges
There’s a saying that if you want to eat healthy, shop the edges of the grocery store. It’s a rare thing to find a coupon for bread, milk, produce, and fresh meat, but all those aisles in between have coupons and deals galore. Now, I’m not sure how much money can be saved in a weekly trip by not shopping the inner aisles with coupons, but I figure I’m making up for it by saving our family medical bills down the road.
Discount Grocery Stores
One great place to shop for cheap bulk produce and dry goods is WinCo. I finally tried them several years ago while doing the Live Below the Line project. This is a challenge where you try to eat on only $1.50 per person per day for five days, as in, live below the level of poverty to gain perspective. It was truly an eye-opener. Turns out it’s much easier than you might think to feed a family of four on just $1.50 per day per person when you have access to a crockpot and a WinCo. I certainly wasn’t able to shop at our convenient, but high priced Safeway on only $6 a day, but at WinCo, I had money left over.
Buy Organic Only When Necessary
Normally, we buy organic whenever possible, especially milk and produce, but in order to save a little money, I refer to the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists. The Clean 15 are mostly tropical fruits that don’t require much in the way of pesticides to grow, so you can feel safe buying the non-organic versions. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and vegetables that are the worst for accumulated toxins. A few on this list that we often buy are strawberries, pears, and apples. It’s good to have an idea of the growing season of your favorite produce so you can buy it when it is readily available at a cheaper price.
Our next step is to turn our backyard into a productive garden. Here in the Valley of the Sun, we have such a long growing season that we could be harvesting something every day of the year! However, plants can easily die in a day if not watered properly, especially during the heat of the summer. What we really need is an automatic watering system and our dream of a backyard garden can come true. Our HOA even recently approved chickens. How cool is that?!