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Archive for March, 2010

Have you ever bought something for a price you thought was phenomenal only to see that same thing advertised at another store for less a few days later?  Perhaps you have seen store advertisements with buzz phrases such as “unbeatable price”, “red hot buy,” or “great deal” flashing at you in colorful text.  Have you ever wondered, “Is the price actually great or am I being duped by a well planned marketing strategy?”

Stores love to make you believe that the price for which they are selling any given item is the best possible price you can get.  This may or may not be true, but how do you know?  With a little practice in “price recognition”, you can easily see past the advertising and get to the truth.

So what is price recognition?  It’s essentially the skill that wins people cars and dream vacations on the game show “The Price is Right.”  You can acquire that same skill, and apply it to your grocery (and other) shopping.  You may not win a new yacht, but you will save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your grocery bill every year.  To do so, you need to make a personal transformation from the consumer that is satisfied with paying a “fair” price to the empowered buyer, purchasing goods at close to their absolute lowest possible prices.

Let’s talk about how to sharpen your price recognition skills.  It takes a little bit of practice and some time, but it’s really quite easy.  Grab some kind of notebook and a pen and then write down a list of things you typically buy at the grocery store.  Browse your ads and write down the prices you see advertised for those items.  Do this over the course of a few weeks and you will practically be a price recognizing pro.  Remember, you don’t have to do this every week for the rest of your life.  It’s just an exercise to help you learn how much things typically cost so you can recognize a genuine sale price.  Pretty soon you will come to see certain pricing principles that will help you get the best deal.  For example, in my area, most stores regularly sell a gallon of milk for $3, but I’ve found that nearly every week, one or more of them will have it on sale for less than $2.  Understanding that principle gives me control over what I spend, rather than allowing one store power to dictate my spending.  You are going to save a lot of money simply by never paying “full price” for any of your groceries again.  Doesn’t that feel good?

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Shopping the Ads

One of the biggest things to save you money on groceries is shopping the ads.  If you are anything like I was a year ago you get a big stack of ads for all your local grocery stores in the mail or in the newspaper and immediately throw them in the trash thinking that they are junk mail.  Stop it!  Those ads are gold mines and will soon become some of your best friends.  Soon you’ll look forward to receiving those ads and then you’ll peruse them several times before you put them in a safe place where you can reference them again and again for the next week.  They will be one of your most powerful weapons in your savings arsenal.  Trust me.  Let me tell you why.

I’m going to say something incredibly obvious here:  If you want to save money you will need to start buying things for less than you are spending now.  And how are you going to know where to buy those things for less?  By looking at the ads, of course!  Browsing the ads will not only help you find which stores have good prices on the items you need it will also help you hone your price recognition skills.  Now I wouldn’t suggest shopping at every store for which you receive an ad.  That would be ridiculous.  But I would suggest that while you are getting started on this quest for savings you at least look over most of the ads.  Again, it’s an exercise to help sharpen your price recognition skills (more on that in a later post).

It can be kind of overwhelming at first.  I know that.  It gets faster and much easier as you go along.  Again, trust me.  I would suggest that you keep a list.  Just grab a piece of scratch paper and start by writing the name of each store with a list of the items you see advertised for a good price.  Then go buy those items at those stores.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  (Don’t get roped into buying things just because they are a good price.  If you don’t like pickles, don’t buy them just because they are on sale for ninety cents!)

If you are anything like I was a year ago shopping at more than one store might seem unnecessary.  But trust me, it’s one of the keys to saving tons of money.  I’ll let you in on a little secret:  no one store has the best prices on everything all of the time.  If Store A sells cheese for a great price you know, for example, they are selling chicken for an exorbitant rate to compensate.  If Store B sells chicken for a great price you know they are ripping you off somewhere else.  Many stores try to lure people in by advertising the convenience of the “One Stop Shopping” idea.  They make you believe that buying your food, filling your prescription, buying a new pair of jeans, and eating lunch all in the same place saves you money.  While I admit that sometimes these stores do have good sales on groceries, you can’t let them fool you into thinking that they always have the best prices on everything.  A little bit of inconvenience will save you mountains of money.

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