Friday, March 6, 2009

Bargain Finds Are In The Eye Of The Beholder!

Being a good bargain shopper doesn't necessarily mean spending less than $50 on groceries a week.  Being a good bargain shopper doesn't mean cutting desires and fun stuff out of your grocery cart to save money.  Being a good bargain shopper doesn't mean you have to only shop sale items with coupons.  Only you can be the best judge of how good of a bargain shopper you really are. 

Why?  "Bargain shopping" is an intangible measurement.  We're all different individuals with different wants, needs & desires.  One person's bargain is another person's rip off.    Here's what I mean:

-  If I can score some denture adhesive for $1, it would actually be a rip-off for me because I won't use denture adhesive and I'd just throw it away.  My elderly neighbor might think it's the deal of the century, stock up on 5 and brag that he saved over $20 on his purchase.  If you get a great deal, but end up not using the product (and yes, I have done this before!  Who hasn't??!!) then it's really not a bargain!

-  If Organic tomato sauce goes on sale for $1.50 a jar - someone who eats organically may be in heaven!  With a normal price tag of $3.39, this is over a 50% savings!  Stock up!  Someone like me who's more of a Ragu and Prego person can usually score a jar for under a dollar.  And usually, $1 is my "limit" for a jar of tomato sauce.  Miss Organic probably has a higher level of "bargain satisfaction" from her $1.50 per jar of Organic tomato sauce than I do if I got Ragu for $1 because I personally know that I have scored tomato sauce a lot cheaper in the past.  Who got the "better bargain"?  You can't use the actual dollar amount spent on an item (or a week's worth of groceries) - you need to look at the bigger picture and see "Well for what I personally purchased, I got a great deal!"  If you can walk out of a store and have that "happy" feeling, whether you spent $13 or $113 - then you did good!!

-  I feel safe saying that probably over 90% of American shoppers would say that getting a box of cereal for $2 is a good deal.  I, on the other hand, feels ripped off if I have to spend more than $1 per box of cereal.  So take me who scored a box of Apple Jacks for $1 and Joe Schmoe who scored a box of Honey Combs for $2.  Someone might say "Wow!  You scored a better deal than Joe!"  But Joe's "bargain shopping" might have scored him the same amount of bargain satisfaction that I received.  He might be accustomed to paying $3.50 a box.  I wouldn't pay $3.50 on a box of cereal if my life depended on it.  

-  Your dietary needs could prevent you from being completely bargain savvy.  If you have someone with a milk or peanut allergy in the house - you'll probably be forced to buy higher end items to avoid possible exposure.  If you're looking to lose weight - you'll probably be forced to have to forgo some of the great sales because let's face it, a lot of what goes on sale is not exactly healthy food.  Same holds true for some who have to watch their sodium intake.  Processed food is loaded with sodium.  I love it and eat it, but I don't have high blood pressure or any other ailment that prevents me from doing so (well not yet that is).  

-  The best way to measure your level of bargain shopping is compare yourself to yourself.  Are you trying to bring your grocery bill down?  Well how are YOU doing compared to yourself last year?  It can be a little detrimental if you compare yourself to others who can bring a $100 "pre-sale" grocery bill down to $16.  But if you find that last year you were spending on average about $150 a week on groceries and now you're spending $120 without making too many sacrifices - then you're doing really good!   Slashing just $30 from your grocery budget a week saves you $1,560 a year!  

-  Use your income and grocery savings to your advantage!  There are just some products that you can get dirt cheap if you work sales.  Tomato sauce, cereal, and toothpaste are good examples.  Whether you make $30K a year or $200K a year, you should get these products at the cheapest price possible!  Why should you pay more for Colgate toothpaste just because you're filthy rich?  Use your dollar wisely.  If you do have extra money to burn on groceries, treat yourself to the things that might matter to you that you can't get dirt cheap - like fresh cuts of good meat.  Seafood.  Fancy ice cream, chocolate or coffee.  What's the motivation to earn and save money if you're not going to spend some of it and treat yourself!?!  

-  Seeing your "savings" on the bottom of a grocery receipt may be rewarding, but again, you have to look at the big picture.  My big example of this is my favorite little meat market, Roxie's.  Everything in that store is dirt cheap (without sacrificing quality in my opinion).  There's no fancy "savings" on the bottom of my receipt and there's no "savings" to add into my collective savings for the year.  However, I'm saving  A BUNDLE by purchasing my meat at that place vs. chain supermarkets.  Plus, the "savings" at the bottom of say CVS and Shaw's receipts are a little misleading.  I know for a fact that I wouldn't buy 98% of the things I do if they weren't on sale.  So am I really "saving" that money?  I wouldn't ever spend $3 on a box of fruit snacks just because they weren't on sale.  If I ran out of fruit snacks, we'd suck it up and wait to purchase them at the next sale.   I'd never buy a Gillette Fusion razor at $9.99 nor would I ever buy diapers at $10.99 a pack.  See where I'm going?

So sure - it's great to be able to say "I only spend $50 a week on groceries" or "I only spend $75!"  But even if you are spending $100, $120 or even $150+ - you could be a GREAT bargain shopper because of what you are getting for that money!  Only after you really look at yourself and your needs and wants can you really determine how good of a bargain shopper you really are!

This post was inspired by Katy's recent poll at Happily Average!


MaryAnne said...

great post, I agree with you completely!

J said...

Hi! I found your blog from the wonderful Happily Average, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST! Since January I have majorly streamlined my weekly shopping, and I have decided that even if it DOES help me grow my ECBs, if I won't use it, won't donate it and don't have space for it, I am NOT going to get it! This post was so wonderful to read, thank you again!