Friday, March 27, 2015

Lower Grocery Bills by Comparison Shopping

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on February 10. Image credit: Seemann at Morguefile:

Can you still eat on US$30 per week in these United States? On $20? On $10, if you have to? I can. Not as well as I did in the 1980s, but enough to survive. And here's my tip for other Bubblers...

Did you take Home Economics in high school? Did you make some sort of "artwork" on the theme "Comparison Shopping Makes Cents"? If you did, on behalf of art, I forgive you. Anyway, the idea was that each of the supermarkets in town offers a really good price on just a few grocery items each week. Supermarket managers may even sell something below the price they paid for it on the assumption that an excellent price on, say, packaged cereal will lure people into the store, and while they're there these people will pay a higher than average price for milk and also buy some bananas the manager wants to sell fast. People who are working full-time and have more money than time can afford to play this little game the way the supermarket managers want it to be played. Writers can, however, play the game our way. 

Read a newspaper. (If possible, subscribe to one, or more, so you can clip the coupons.) Look for sale prices on things you buy. If you live in town, you can plan your morning walk to include stopping at the store that offers a good bargain on something you need every morning, then plan your menus around what's on sale each week. You don't buy the overpriced milk every time you find a bargain on packaged cereal, because you've found a better price on milk at another store, or you've planned to eat your cereal without milk, or you're planning to store the cereal until you find a bargain on milk. 

By and large prices have doubled since the 1990s, when I started buying the foods I now eat regularly...but, by "comparison shopping," I still pay close to the same prices I paid in the 1990s for most things. 

Of course, since I live in a small town, the supermarket managers are aware that I'm doing this and they all haaate me. I figure that if people are going to hate me for something like this, let'em could be worse: people like that could like me. 

If we still had locally owned "corner stores" where the storekeepers were relatives, sold our garden produce, knew which disabled senior citizen most needed free groceries before they started rotating stock, and probably charged us less for the same things than they charged random people from town, I might still be loyal to "Our Store," the way my parents brought me up to be. But we don't have those stores any more.