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    Break the Shopping Rules!

    By Shelly Burke

    Several years ago, I decided to start using all the shopping rules I'd read about in books and magazines. It seemed so easy. I would spend only $50 a week on groceries, and receive rebate checks and free items in the mail every day. But after a few months of diligently studying sale advertisements, saving Universal Product Codes (UPCs), filing Proof of Purchase seals (POPs), filling out forms, clipping coupons, and shopping according to the rules, my shopping time doubled and I always seemed to be one UPC short of that great deal.

    I decided to break the shopping rules, or at least bend them, so they'd better suit my life. My shopping immediately became more productive, less time-consuming, and less stressful. Here are shopping rules I love to break or at least bend.

    <b>Rule One</b>: Shopping is an educational experience for your kids, so take them along and teach them to comparison shop and use coupons. How to break it: Don't take the kids! You'll save money (no little voices begging for sugary snacks or unnecessary items and distracting you from comparing prices) and your sanity.

    <b>Rule Two</b>: Shop during off-hours when the stores are the least busy. How to break it: Shop when a babysitter or your spouse is home to watch the kids (see above). Even if the store is crowded, you'll save time shopping alone.

    <b>Rule Three</b>: Arrange your shopping list according to how the store is arranged. How to bend it: Also list the meals you're planning to prepare, so you know which items on your list are critical to the meal, how much you need, and if you can substitute an ingredient. For example, one day I had green peppers on my list and there was only one in the bin. From my meal plan, I could see that the pepper was going into the pot of chili I planned to prepare, and one pepper would be enough. If I had been planning to make stuffed peppers, I would have known to change my meal plan.

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    <b>Rule Four</b>: Buy only what's on your list. How to bend it: If there's a great unadvertised special on something you can use in a main dish (pork chops, for example), add it to your meal list, or plan to freeze them for future use.

    <b>Rule Five</b>: Don't purchase prepared items like cut up lettuce, baby carrots, skinless chicken breasts, and so on. How to break it: Before you automatically pass up these items, remember that they require little or no preparation, and that can be a life saver if the kids desperately need a snack or you have unexpected guests for supper. Prepared items are also a healthy, less expensive alternative to gas station snacks when you're on a trip. To offset the price, buy store brands, use coupons, and watch for specials.

    <b>Rule Six</b>: Use as many coupons as possible. How to bend it: Before you buy an item just because you have a coupon, ask yourself if it would be cheaper to make from scratch, if a store brand would be cheaper, or if you really want the item or are purchasing it just because you have a coupon. Some people aren't meant to be coupon queens, and I'm one of them! I find it frustrating to clip coupons for everything, and in a rural area, the selection is limited and brands I have coupons for are not always available. I clip high-value coupons for cereal and soap - and that's all.

    <b>Rule Seven</b>: Never clip coupons for snack items, prepared foods, and other expensive items you don't buy. How to bend it: Save high value and buy-one-get-one-free coupons for these convenience items anyway. Occasionally stores will offer the item at a very low price and then you'll be ready to stock up! Consider clipping coupons for new items as they may be promoted with very low introductory prices.

    <b>Rule Eight</b>: Save POPs, UPCs, and receipts, and get rebates and free items. How to bend it: Like clipping coupons, I found that for the most part, rebates aren't for me. Despite the time I spent clipping and filing, I could never seem to collect the required number of items before the offer expire . But sometimes the effort is worth it. Last year, I purchased two, 36-roll packages of toilet paper for $5.98 each. I mailed in the required two POPs and the receipt and got a $10 rebate! I got 72 rolls of toilet paper for only $1.96!

    <b>Rule Nine</b>: Only shop every two weeks or once a month. How to break it: If you have the willpower to purchase only sale items, shop again if there's a fantastic sale on something your family uses a lot of, like cereal or soda.

    <b>Rule Ten</b>: Compare prices and specials and go to several stores, if necessary, to get the best deals. How to break it: Consider the amount of time and gas it takes to drive across town to save 50 cents on coffee. Unless the special is exceptional, you're probably better off shopping at one store where you're familiar with the layout and sale cycle.

    Use these rules and other tips and suggestions you gather from books, magazines, and websites, as guidelines. Bend them, break them, or throw them out completely. Make the shopping rules work for you!

    ****************************
    This article is adapted from the book <A HREF="http://www.homeiswherethemomis.com">Home is Where the Mom Is</A> - A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home by Shelly Burke. Available now - download a FREE Guide to Setting Goals and Goal Sheet!

    #2
    Re: Break the Shopping Rules!

    Ok I think all rules needed to be bent for the family using them, but Rule number one of taking the kids... I have ALWAYS shopped with my kids, I don't drive so if I want out of the house it is with the kids and Hubby as the chouffure (No I really can't spell that sorry how about driver).

    Anyway, My DS has never asked for junk food, other than pringles, and DH askes too so it wouldn't really be saving me anything to leave him. Oh and he asks for steak, but at 4$ a pound on sale I have no trouble telling him no, 'cept for his birthday. Anyway, The more a child is used to getting what they ask for the more they will ask. So take them from day one and never say yes. DD asks for fruit.

    Ok almost never, I do buy apples on request, and banananas. Occasionally Turkey. The things likely to get a yes are asked for.

    I suppose since they are only 2 and 1 parents of older children will be saying, "just you wait", but my mother always took us and we never pestered, in fact one of the hardest things I learned, as I got older, was explaining what I wanted without actually asking, a very useful skill when manipulating, err suggesting things to, DH .

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Break the Shopping Rules!

      I have to agree with Perky to some extent (not too keen on the manipulating part). And if you can't say no to your kids when they ask for things you don't want to buy or don't want them to have, you've got bigger problems than grocery bills.

      I've always taken DD along and it's fine. She sees me reading labels, she hears me talking aloud about choosing organic foods, and she has input on what we buy when there are choices to be made.

      Also, I agree with the article when it comes to shopping around. I'm not going to drive across town to save 50 cents on something. Now, if I was already in that neck of the woods and I knew that there was a good sale on something I buy regularly, that would be different.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Break the Shopping Rules!

        I was kidding on the maniupulating .

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Break the Shopping Rules!

          I agree that refunding is not for everyone. I used to do it all the time but when I was doing it the stores were doubling and tripling coupons and you could find lots of refund forms. You also didn't have to have a cash register tape for every item, you just had to have the upc, or someting else they wanted off the package. It was a lot easier to get what you needed. For instance, you could pick up a package along side the road and get what you needed for the refund off the package.

          Now I don't bother unless it is for something I use a lot of and is easy to get.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Break the Shopping Rules!

            i refund constantly.. it is so easy to get the form and match up with a coupon to make money. our refund money paid for our vacation to topsail island last year. that was a family of 3..
            and rite aid rebates you can do online.. simple..
            i did the walgreens rebates last year and included coupons. they give you 10%back if you go get your rebates back on a gift card. i saved mine up all year long and was able to buy gift cards from walgreens using my walgreens gift card. with those gift cards i was able to pay for christmas gifts for family.

            Comment


              #7
              Making a shopping list can bend impulsive buying

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