Isn't it great when you come across a way of saving some money, or adding some value, without really having to do more than plan ahead a little more carefully?
A couple of times a month, I shop at Morrisons. Now we don't have a Morrisons near to home, but there is one not too far from the office I work in sometimes, so whilst waiting for MrEH to get back to our meeting point, I can dash there, whizz round, do the weeks shop, and whizz out again. I like the layout of the store, I love their policy re British meat, and most of all, I adore their reductions policy. At about the time I arrive, there is someone up at the back of the store, at the reduced items section, cheerily slapping "2nd reduction" tickets on anything remaining there. This is the final, last ditch attempt at ensuring that everything sells - remember supermarkets etc have to pay for their waste disposal, so it is in their interests to make sure they don;t get left with anything which has to be thrown away. I enter the store, and walk straight to that section with my trolley. Sometimes there is nothing of interest - I refuse to buy food just because it is cheap - it has to be something that we would either buy anyway, at full price, or something that will make a nice treaty addition to our food stores, but that I couldn't justify buying normally. This weeks visit netted 3 tubs of sweetcorn chowder soup, 3 packs of Blacksticks Blue cheese, and 6 packets of Corned beef. These 12 items cost a grand total of £1.08 - just 9p each. The soups will become weekday suppers, with the additional of a loaf of home made bread. (Supper for 2 for about 40p. Pretty good, eh?) The cheese will become part of other meals, or get eaten with crackers for a weekend tea, and the corned beef - well MrEH has already divided it up and that will become fillings for 24 lunchtime rolls - including the cost of the rolls (home made, of course) this means we will have 24 lunches for under 9p each - bargain!
Learn what time your local store do their price reductions, and again what time they further reduce anything which is left. Bear in mind that a lot of stores have several areas worth checking, for bread, veg & chilled goods, for example. Always be friendly and chatty to the person doing the reductions. never push in to try to reach something, or start badgering them to reduce stuff you want - although I always find that a cheerful "oh, will you be reducing X in a second, too?" works wonders. The old ethos used to be to not take every last item on the shelf when there is masses of them too, but so many folk seem to ignore this now I wonder if it really applies any more. Remember that most things can be frozen perfectly well too, check the labels if you are unsure.
Another bit of forward planning that has served me well recently is using a well known High Street chemist's annual "Christmas shopping event" to stock up on items of toiletries etc that I would be purchasing through the year in any case. This event has a spend threshold of £50, but once you hit that threshold they reward you with 1200 of their particular loyalty points - £12 worth, in fact. This promotion is run annually, and I have taken "Advantage" ;-) of it for the past few years. I make a list of annual "necessities" which I know this particular store are reasonably priced for, scour their website in advance for special offers, and plan my spend down to the last penny. I also visit the Kiosk in store that allows you to print off coupons giving discounts on some products - you can't use any that offer extra points alongside the store-wide promotion but you can usually use 25% off, or 10% off ones. This time round my basket included among other things 6 cans of deodorant (all on special multibuys or half price), a plentiful supply of what might euphemistically be described as "lady-goods", some odds and ends for MrEH's Christmas "Year's supply of..." box, part of my Mum's birthday present, cotton wool (on buy one get one half price), cotton buds (buy the baby ones NOT the beauty ones - they are the same cotton buds at a fraction of the price!) and the eye-makeup remover I use was at half price so three bottles of that went in as well. Several items went through with special offers that were not on the shelf - I had to go and grab two additional items and my final spend came to £50.57. once I'd left the till I scrutinised the receipt and found two mis-prices which refunded me a total of £3.15, meaning my actual spend was £47.42 - or £35.42 once the extra points are taken into account. The rules are, to buy only stuff that is necessary, so no frivolous or treaty spends, or to buy Christmas presents - using the 3 for 2 offer some of the children's toys can be well worth looking at. Also not to pay over the odds for anything that could be bought a lot cheaper elsewhere just to meet the spend threshold - so for example I don't buy toothpaste, as 99p Stores are ALWAYS cheaper. The extra points I gain through doing this are used to fund anything additional I need to buy through the year - so additional purchases of those lady-goods, deodorant when any extra is needed, or odds and ends of makeup, for example, making them in effect cash-neutral.
Have you found any good ways of planning ahead, or playing the system, to add value to your spending? Can you share any insider info on when particular stores reduce items to rock bottom?
This week, more Friday Frugality can be found at:
Wittgensteins Watering Can
Single & Utterly Fabulous
The Wind & The Wellies