This is a guest post from the wonderful GoGingham

While I love saving money at the store when shopping for my family, couponing isn’t always the answer. Knowing what the best price is helps me save. Here’s how I make the most for less – without necessarily clipping coupons.

  • Value: There is real value to be found in generic items and they’re usually less expensive than the coupon discounted price, when compared to name brands. At the dentist recently, they offered me a ‘big’ coupon ($2 off) on fluoride rinse. I declined because I know the store brand is half the cost of the name brand – without a coupon. Another place of value? The bulk food bins. (Need tips for shopping in the bulk bin food section?) With less packaging, you can buy exactly how much you need. There is real value in using a coupon on an item that you or your family truly uses but stocking up and buying more than needed is wasteful.
  • Health: Most coupons are for processed food that’s not healthy for us. By making health a priority and skipping processed foods, coupons become obsolete. Yes, I wish there were coupons for broccoli and apples but until then, buy fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. In season produce that’s plentiful is usually on sale and you can really save.
  • Time: Is your time worth it? If you can save .35/cents on an item but you have to drive across town in traffic to buy it, is that worth your time? Even warehouse stores can trick us on prices. After driving to the members only store, we may get the best price but the package is so large, it can go bad before it gets eaten. I know I buy more than what’s on my list at these stores. After driving to the store, I want to make the trip worth my while and that usually means buying more than we actually need.
  • Space: All of this shopping and stocking up requires storage space. I started storing items around the house and forgot where they were and bought more. After buying several items 3 times over (plastic wrap, anyone?) I decided we could only keep food and cooking items in the kitchen. Closets and pantries full of household items isn’t smart or savvy. I’d rather have the store – or warehouse – hold the items until we run out and actually need an item.

Saving money at the store doesn’t have to include coupons. Knowing prices is the best way to save both money and time – and there’s no clipping involved.

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