I mentioned last week I was starting a series on the basics of saving money. It seems like our economy is getting into rougher shape than it is getting better, and more and more people are seeing a lot more taken out of their paychecks than this time last year. It isn’t time to freak out, just spend a little wiser. One of the things I have found that has helped me the most is to have a “price point” for items before I will buy them.
A price point will help you know if you are getting a good deal or not. I don’t actually have a written out list of my price points, but it’s something I just “know.” Here are a few examples:
- Regular Price of cereals at Dollar General: $2.50 -$3 a box
Price with coupons and sale: always less than $2 a box (when I had a store that doubled/tripled I never paid more than $.75)
- Regular price of a shirt anywhere else $15-$25
Average price of a shirt at Ross: $5-$10
- Regular price of name brand diapers at Sam’s Club (make sure to check size, price goes up with size) $.16 each
Sale price of name brand diapers with sales/coupons $.12 ish each
- Regular price of milk at Wal Mart $4.96
Sale price that I price match $3
Once you have an idea of the regular price, you can get an idea of the sale price, or a price point that you buy the item. Sometimes there isn’t a sale on milk so you have to pay full price, or sometimes you HAVE to have something and you can’t wait for a sale. It happens. But I try to only buy items on sale or when the price has reached my price point. Once you know what the lowest price you have seen an item is, you know that if it goes on sale for less (diapers on clearance at Walgreens for $.05 a diaper) you know that you need to stock up like crazy. Also, knowing what Dollar Tree sells is helpful, too. I can grab a 14 oz Ajax dish soap there all day long for $1, it might be $1.19 at the grocery store regular price, and Wal Mart has them for $.97. You know if Dollar Tree has that item then you should never pay more than a dollar for it. Getting into the mentality of not paying full price will save you a TON of money.
To work with a price point it helps to know that grocery stores rotate their sales every few months. Usually in the fall you see a ton of baking items on sale, produce here in Lubbock goes on sale every other week. If you find the items on sale, use coupons and stock up, you can hold out until the next sale a few months down the road. That is the key to the biggest savings and why so many people get more than one Sunday paper. You might only eat 2 boxes of cereal a month, but if cereal only goes on sale every 4 months you will need a couple coupons to keep you stocked.
Now, having a budget is a no brainer. Even if you don’t do a budget down to the very last penny, at the very least you should know what your monthly bills are costing you in comparison to what you are bringing in. You should know what you can spend on diapers/food/clothes. Sometimes when you find a great deal you might have to borrow from another part of your budget. We spend about $8 on wipes a month, maybe a little more or less. A month ago we found that CRAZY good deal on baby wipes on Amazon. I spent $21 and got about $40 worth of wipes. Did I go over my budget that month? Yes. Will I be buying wipes in the next 3-4 months now? No, I won’t…. so now I have a little extra in the budget that I will move over for another stock up sale. You gotta have a little flexibility with your budget. Sometimes it’s not possible, but do your best.
That’s all this week. I am sure I am preaching to the coupon choir, but we all know someone who is struggling a little with money. Share this with them, help them get started on the right path. I had no idea 2 years ago that I would be living off our couponed stockpile. We were couponing more out of hobby than necessity, and now that hobby has turned into necessity and saved us so much money. So start helping your friends, we can’t predict the future but we can plan for it.
Tune in next week for part 2!