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How To Save Money Day To Day (Spending Less)


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Plan ahead

  • Write a list of what you need before you leave home. (Apps such as Shopping List are available for smart phones)
    • Inventory all the food in your residence, including fresh, canned and frozen. (With frozen, particularly think how long a food has been in the freezer so you use it before it gets freezer burn).
    • Check sales circulars or coupons you may have.look or that are in your mail box or on the store's website so you can take advantage of sales.
    • Ideally, make a weekly menu. If you include recipes with list can look for overlapping foods.
    • If you find you run out of an item or don't have it when needed, either modify the ingredients or change the menu. Experts indicate that it is not wise to go back to the store. As a general matter, the less you shop, the more you save.
  • If you have a smart phone:
    • Download shopping apps that include coupons or discounts. For instance, FLIPP includes cooupons by area code, subject and store. . Apps can even learn your prefrences and tailor offers to your shopping habits.
  • If you do not have a smart phone, consider the grocery store "club" that is the larger stores promote. These programs are generally free and generally provide savings which are only available to club members.
  • Before you go shopping, check each local store's loss-leaders (items which the store sells at or below cost to get you into the store). If all else is equal about the items on your list, and you can use any of the items being sold as a loss-leader, it is likely financially worthwhile to go to that store (if you won't eat up any savings with the cost of transportation to get there.)
  • Buy staples in a large enough quantity when the ones you use are on sale so you have enough to last you until the next sale.
  • Keep the following mind with respect to fresh food:
    • If you purchase fresh food when it is in season, you can save 40 - 60% when buying produce. To find what food is in season, go to offsite link
    • Consider only buying organic food that is not likely to be "dirty" or contain pesticides.  According to Consumer Reports, foods that need to be peeled are lower riskk of including pesticides. For example: pineapples, mangoes, avocados, onions and corn.
  • According to Consumer Reports Money Adviser, food staples like cereal and chicken hit their lowest prices once every 12 weeks. If you make a note when you see a sale on staples you use, you will know when to stock up next. (If you freeze food - write the date of freezing on the wrapper, or the date by which it has to be used before getting freezer burn.)
  • Buy extras of items on sale that are not perishable - so long as you limit purchases to what you know you will use in a reasonable period of time.

Try store brands

Consumer Reports found that many store brands are as good as nationally branded goods. In fact, many store brands are made by the same companies that make the national brands.

Look for less expensive yet nutritious foods

If you are looking for nutrient-dense but inexpensive foods, try fiber-rich grains like barley and quinoa.

Instead of planning meals around meat, choose less-expensive proteins like beans, eggs, skinless chicken thighs, or canned salmon.

When buying fresh produce, get what's local and in season. You'll often save money since the food doesn't have to be flown or trucked from a far away place.

Use mobile phone apps to compare prices

  • You can use applications (apps) on a mobile phone to compare prices. The apps let you scan bar codes while you shop. (for example: QR codes for "Quick Response.") The apps tell you if there is a nearby or other store with the same item at a better price. (Before you pass up the item in front of you, check with the other store to be sure the item is in stock. If you need the store's phone number, free information is available at 800.GOOG.411)
  • Consider the following apps:
    • The app known as Cellfire loads coupons from grocery stores and other retailers onto your loyalty cards and sends a reminder to your mobile device that you have a coupon when you enter a store that provided it.
    • Clutch stores your loyalty and gift-card data. Use the app at checkout to get your discount or have your purchase credited.
    • Favado compares real-time sale data.
    • Flipp has digital circulars
    • Foursquare ( offsite link) sends deal alerts to your phone when you are near a store with a deal.
    • PriceGrabber provides information about the retailer selling goods at the best price.
    • Redlaser compares prices of online retailers and local walk-in stores.

Discount stores

Consider shopping at discount supermarkets for staples and other items. The larger your family, the more money you'll save, even when you include the costs such as the annual fee chains such as Costco charge, the cost of gas, and wear and tear on your vehicle.


Use coupons. They can save a lot of money. Just make sure you don't spend more because of coupons. For more information, see Coupons.

At  checkout, check the app: Honey. It attempts to provide all available coupon discounts. See: offsite link


Prices of food purchased via food auctions is generally much cheaper than retail. You can search for local events at offsite link and offsite link Be sure you know the prices of auctioned goods before bidding so you do not get carried away and pay too much. 

In store scanner

Some groceries offer customers the option of using a handheld scanner available in the store to ring up products while you shop. You may also get offers for extra discounts as you walk through the store. If you don't stick to your shopping list, this "money saving" device can cost you more by making purchases you didn't need.

Be smart in the store

Think about the way stores display items to maximize their profit - not your savings. For example:

  • Items featured at the end of an aisle may be regular price - not on sale as you may expect from the placement.
  • Items stocked at eye level may be more expensive than items on lower (or higher) shelves.
  • Check expiration dates. With perishable items, it is not unusual to place items that will expire soonest in the front of a shelf.
  • Check unit prices so you can purchase the most economical size. Unit prices are price per.... (ounce, sheet etc)
  • Shop clockwise. According to Bottom Line Personal, shoppers who move counterclockwise through a store spend up to 7% more.
  • Carry your own music. Stores have found that the slower the music, the more people linger in the store - and shop. You can counter this tendency by carrying your own music.
  • Products near speed bumps tend to be premium products.

Don't grocery shop with a handheld basket. One study found that shoppers who carry a basket are more likely to add impulse purchases such as candy. Using a regular shopping cart helps people stick to a list.

NOTE: Check to see if you are, or could be, eligible for assistance with respect to food. For example,

  • Federal Food Assistance/ Nutrition Programs
  • People 60 and older who have a limited income can get coupons to use at authorized farm stands and farmers markets. Go to offsite link and click on Programs at the top of the page. Then select Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

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