Good thing Jeb down the street hoarded all those can openers. He'll sell you one for $5,000.
This is not that.
There is a way to shop frugally that doesn't involve spending half your life cutting coupons out of newspapers and magazines. This more active approach is also fun, like a treasure hunt. You never know what you're going to score!
Use a Smaller Local Grocer
Out of necessity my family is forced to buy some goods at the Big Box store. We mainly use it for things like paper products, personal care items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) and a few other things.
For most of our grocery shopping, we use a local grocery store. The one we shop is from a smaller chain and has a very "small town grocer" feel to it. The faces are all familiar, the employees know us, and the store itself is much easier to navigate than the soulless Big Box store.
I get paid in smiley buttons!
Get the Store Savings Card
It may seem like a hassle, but take five minutes and fill out the form and slap that little plastic card on your keychain. This entitles you to weekly in-store savings without having to use coupons at all. Usually, the items on sale change week to week, so there's always something new and useful to save a few cents on. I signed up to get email updates, so every week a new list of products comes to my inbox. I can even print out a shopping list right from the site.
For our store, signing up for the savings club means special savings events as well. A few years ago, I scored a free twelve (12) pound turkey by spending a certain amount with my card before Thanksgiving.
Our store also has a special feature that hooks my card up electronically with my son's school's Box Tops program. I don't even have to cut out the Box Tops. When the products are scanned at the store, a certain amount is donated directly to my son's school from the company!
I know it's on here somewhere...
Hunt for the Red Tags
At your store the clearance tags may be green or yellow or aquamarine. At ours they are bright red, and for my husband and me, this is the most fun part of the frugal shopping experience. It's kind of like hunting Easter eggs; you scan the area carefully and when you see a red-tagged item you toss it in your basket.
What? It was on sale.
Our store usually gathers produce items, dairy, and even meats that will soon be past the sell-by date and sells them at a lower (often MUCH lower) price in order to get rid of them. I've scored a tray of peaches for around two bucks, Brie for $1.99, and Greek yogurt cups for 45 cents each. The Holy Grail for us though, is the red-tagged milk. It's a great shopping day when you can get a $4 dollar gallon of milk for a buck simply because it's one day away from its sell-by date.
The only caution for red-tagged item is the shelf life. Since the items are so near the sell-by dates they'll need to be used or frozen quickly, so don't get overzealous and buy more than you can use. If they go bad, you haven't saved any money at all.
Make Friends with the Meat and Deli Workers
This is where having a small local store really comes in handy. Instead of an ever changing cast of characters behind the counters, you usually have a handful of well-known faces in these areas. This makes it easier to form relationships and even partnerships with the folks sorting the chickens and slicing the ham. Why is that important? Making friends with the butcher and the deli worker can often get you an "in" when it comes to sale or specialty items. For my husband and me, it means extra bits stuck here and there because we're loyal customers.
What do you mean, "Do I like the movie Gangs of New York"?
Take a Chance on the Store Brand
There are some things I will not buy in generic brands, but for plenty of other items the store brand is just as good, if not better than the name brand version. Canned goods are one example. I usually buy the store brand version of canned soups, pasta for the kiddos, tuna, and broths. They are much cheaper, but still good quality. Store brand baking goods are usually fine as well: flour, sugar, spices. For those items, the store brand offers a good product at a fraction of the name brand cost.
Just as nasty as Kool-Aid, but for half the price!
Hit Up the Dollar Store for Bread
I know what you're thinking. "What?!" But trust me, this has been a HUGE money saver for my family. We like our whole wheat bread, and since my husband and the kids take their lunches to school and work, we go through an insane amount of bread. Rather than resorting to sub-standard, or heaven forbid, white bread, *shudder* we discovered that our local dollar store carries name brand high quality bread in limited supply. About twice a week, a bread truck brings a small quantity of unsold or left-over bread from suppliers and stores. It's completely fresh and nowhere near the sell-by date and it's $1. We're talking three and four dollar loaves of whole wheat bread here. For one (1) dollar! My husband and I usually buy several loaves at a time and stick them in the freezer. When one loaf starts getting low, we take another out of the freezer and let it thaw out overnight and it's ready for the next day.
There are plenty of other grocery goods you can buy at the dollar store, but you really have to carefully weigh the price with the amount you're getting. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. The bread is definitely an unbeatable buy.
I'm sure it works just fine...