Whether the economy is in a tailspin (as it is when I write this at the end of 2008) or whether things are going well, it is always good to be able to save money on the things you buy. I have seen too many news reports about people (generally old people-sort of like me!) who are forced to choose between food and medications, or people who are forced to eat dog food rather than people food. No one knows for sure if or when the economy will turn around, so it is wise to always be on the alert for ways to cut expenses.
My wife, who has a good eye for bargains, has come up with a couple of ways for us to pay less of our own money for groceries.
1. First, using our government stimulus check wisely. Although that program is in the past, there is much talk in Washington, D.C., about the need for another stimulus program to pump new life into the weak economy. Let me tell you what we did with our check and what we will probably do with the next check, if one comes. Instead of rushing out to pay off some of the principle on our mortgage, we took advantage of an offer from the Rainbow grocery store where we often shop. If we cashed our check at their store, they would add an additional 10% to the total. For example, a $300 check would become $330. We cashed our check at Rainbow, got our 10% “gift,” and converted everything into Rainbow gift cards–cards that we use when we shop for groceries at Rainbow.
There is no expiration date on the cards, so we can take as long as necessary to use them. While it would have been helpful to have paid off some of our mortgage principle, the 10% from Rainbow was a better deal than saving some money on our approximately 6% mortgage.
2. Second, keeping our eyes open while going about our normal activities. This is more of a general principle for saving money, but I do have an actual example to illustrate the principle. Recently, while I was doing some routine banking at a branch bank located in the Rainbow store, I noticed a sign informing potential customers that they would receive $50 toward their grocery purchases if they opened an account with that bank. We already have an account with the bank, so the offer did not help us, but there are many people who would benefit. The point is that special offers are often found unexpectedly, so be alert and you might be surprised at what you find.
The secret is not to look for big ways to save money, but to watch for ways to save a little here and a little there. In the end, it adds up to some significant savings.