The road to being frugal - Shopping
Being frugal, thrifty, etc, is a process of working out what is right for you, getting there is not a new found wonder or a be all and end all way of life.
It's about doing what is right for you and your family. It has many twists and turns.
I'll be posting here some things that I have found useful in becoming more frugal and changing the way my family approach things, this post is about frugal shopping. I hope it helps.
Question everything - I always question the way I do things, the way I spend/save money, the way I pay bills, the way I shop, etc.
Could I have saved some money whilst achieving what I set out to do?
Will it benefit my home, family, etc?
Is there a more healthy option?
I worked out the time I spent shopping in the supermarket. For one and a half hours every weekend I would trundle a trolley around with the rest of the sheep. I don't despise companies making profits, but making excessive profits at my family's expense I find disgusting.
I noticed that the meat I was buying from supermarkets, would often turn, despite being kept in the fridge, so would have to be eaten say before the following Thursday, otherwise it was binned.
Similar pattern emerged with fruit and vegetables. Out of a tub of eight tangerines, sometimes I'd be throwing two away come the following wednesday, normally when I grabbed one on my way out of the door and discovered it was mouldy underneath. Was there another way?
A way to shop for "fresh" fruit, veg and meat, that wouldn't turn within a few days?
One weekend, I nipped into a local farm butchers on my way to pick up some fruit and veg at a local market.
Not only was their meat fresher, I also got more of it. For the princely sum of £22, I managed to get three prime cuts of meat, plus a block of locally produced cheese.
A welcomed surprise came the following week, when thinking I needed to throw away last weeks chicken fillets, I washed them and found them to still be in great condition.
How could the local meat be lasting longer than supermarket meat?
How could it be cheaper?
As if I needed another reason to stop buying meat at supermarkets, one popped up and bit me on the snout... the local farm butchers buying, the waste was one carrier bag and three small plastic bags - the supermarket waste was three plastic tubs, a carrier bag and more expense. I haven't looked back, it's been over two years now since I have bought meat from a supermarket. I eat more meat than ever and it's always fresh and cut to how I want it. I buy locally made korma sauces from them, cheese, bacon, some pies, etc.
Supermarkets no longer make big profits at my family's expense.
From the butchers, I drove another 10 minutes to the town further down the road. I visited the outside market and picked up £15 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables. I filled four carrier bags, with plums, bananas, rhubarb, apples, oranges, tangerines (satsumas), mushrooms, beetroot, spring onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, carrots and a half a carrier bag full of king edward potatoes.
All fresh, all without masses of packaging, all cheaper than at the supermarket. Not a single piece of fruit and veg turned within a few days, none were rotten underneath, no plastic tubs to dispose of, etc.
I packed them all in the boot and drove home. Time taken, 45 minutes. Cheaper, fresher, less waste and now quicker than shopping at a supermarket. With the added benefit, that when I did walk into a supermarket, I can cut out all the fruit, vegetables and meat sections, which make up more than a third of the store, without being tempted to pick up any little extras. I have escaped some of their marketing techniques!
Alternatives to supermarket shopping for other things - Now I was empowered with buying things faster and cheaper elsewhere, I began to look for other things we normally purchased for the family/house/garden that could be bought cheaper than at the supermarket. It didn't take long to find them!
I walk through an inside market on the way to get my fruit and veg from an outdoor market. In there they have a stall selling toiletries.
The vosene that two of the family use, had just seen a price rise and smaller bottle being brought in at supermarkets tesco and asda. The market stall was a little bit cheaper per bottle, plus they were the older size which contained more shampoo.
I happen to ask one day, how much discount if I was to buy 10 bottles of vosene? The stall holder knocked off 10p per bottle. I was now getting it cheaper still and more of it!
I applied this to the soap we use, yep you guessed it, cheaper as well.
When the stall started selling baby milk formula - 50p cheaper than supermarkets - baby food jars at 10 for £5 (10 for £6 at asda) we started to see significant savings.
I was a tad pleased that the more I looked and asked around, the less supermarkets got of our money, I was now missing out whole aisles when I did visit the supermarket, as I simply didn't need them for many products that we buy every week/month.
It suddenly dawned on me, that being frugal and keeping more of my own money in my family's coffers, was about having a choice!
Supermaket's only want their customers to have one choice, either an expensive over priced branded product, or their own brand product, which now had the price that the branded version should have been.
This opportunity opened the door for a new favourite of mine... "Offer raiding"
Imagine shopping in a supermarket for just offers, in our local tescos, Wednesday and Saturday evenings are best, as this is when offers go on to gondola ends and 3 for 2s appear.
Latest offers I picked up for example - 3 for 2 on catsan cat litter (individual price has gone up from £4.25 to £5.30 in last couple of months) the 3 for 2 worked out at £3.55 a bag, so I picked up six bags. Four days later the offer had been removed. Weekend shoppers didn't even see the offer. (The same thing happened with six tin packs of whiskas cat meat and their 3 for 2 offer)
Tinned tomatoes was another example, priced artificially high at just under a pound a tin, late night offer raiding, I picked up eight tins of chopped tomatoes for 50p per tin.
Buying like this, allows yet more money to be saved, as the prospect of going without a weekly bought product as you loathe paying an obviously inflated high price, is an almost weekly battle with your own conscience, supermarkets play on this. Buying not so much in bulk, but in quantity that can allow you to have the item available in your cupboard and save money on it, until the next "sale" comes around, is another little victory.
I'd wager many of you reading this, have also experienced the cost to your pockets, when you nip into the supermarket mid week because you have run out of something?
I've been told about how someone just nipped in for some milk and ended up spending £20-£30 - it's a supermarket marketing trap, which is why the popular items are always at the back of the store!
Need a tradesman? Get to know your neighbours!
Shopping around for tradesmen is a nightmare. Wether it's a plumber, builder, roofer, etc.
Who is good, reputable, safe?
THE best "price comparison" way, is not through some backroom funded website, it starts with your neighbours!
Allowing for the occasional neighbour, who is out to make money off the back of anyone and everyone, the majority are able to recommend someone who has done a job for them in the recent past.
This also helps you, as if they need a lift with something or a skill that you have, you can do favours for them and in return they help you out.
I needed some topsoil for my garden. A good neighbour of mine wanted to lay some stone flags but didn't have the means to get them to his house. A couple of hours later, he had the flags in his garden, a couple more hours later and I had three tonnes of topsoil, unwanted in his garden, in my vegetable beds. It cost neither of us a penny piece. Now that's what I call frugal!
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