Monthly Archives: September 2009

How To Save Money On Groceries

I’ll admit it.  I actually enjoy shopping for groceries.  I usually shop on Tuesdays and I try to go to the store when there are fewer customers shopping.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to save money (and a little time) while shopping for groceries.  Here’s what works for me -

1.  Use a grocery store price book to track the prices of regularly purchased items.  (I’ve created a free printable version of the price book that I use.  Feel free to click the link and print out a copy for yourself.)

  • The price book will help you figure out the rock-bottom prices from your favorite store or stores.
  • The price book will help you know when to stock up – and when to buy just the minimum.

2.  Familiarize yourself with the layout and selection from your favorite store.

3.  Take advantage of a store’s price-match policy.

  • This is especially important if you want to avoid driving all around town, just to save money on one or two items.  Take the weekly circular with you to your store of choice, find the sale items listed in the circular that you want to purchase, and then have your store price-match those items.
  • If you are going to price-match more than one or two items, try to go to the store when there are fewer customers.  You’ll feel more comfortable asking for the price-match if there aren’t 10 people waiting in line behind you to check out.

4.  If an item that you want is on sale but out-of-stock, ask for a rain check.

5.  Use coupons, but only for items that you were already planning to buy.

  • Coupons are very popular.  I get mine from the Sunday paper and I print them online.

6.  Sample generic versions of various products.

  • I have found that the quality of most generics is equal to the quality of most name brands.  Most reputable stores will give you a refund if you try their generic or store brand and you are not satisfied.

7.  Find out if stores in your area offer double (or even triple) coupons.

  • My favorite local store will double coupons up to 50 cents.  So, if I have a coupon for 50 cents, they’ll take 1 dollar off of the purchase price.  I find that I can really save money when using doubled coupons and purchasing canned fruits and vegetables.

8.  Skip the grocery store and try the local farmer’s market or vegetable stand if you are looking for fresh produce.

  • If you have the time, you can really save a ton of money by buying from local farmers or from local produce stands.

9.  Bring your calculator to the store – and use it!

  • If you ignore all of the above, don’t ignore suggestion number 9.  I use the calculator on my cell phone.  You need to be able to figure our price per ounce or price per gallon or price per unit.  The little information stickers below most products are often wrong.  A quick calculation or two, and you’ll soon know whether to buy the 24 ounce or the 44 ounce ketchup.

10.  Pay attention to price – period.

  • A lot of research goes into separating your money from you.  Ignore end caps.  Ignore where an item is on the shelf.  Ignore those bright yellow or orange “sale” signs.  Compare prices – per unit, per ounce, per pound, etc.

11.  Understand how “2 for the price of x” works at your store.

  • In some cases, stores require that you actually buy 2 qualifying items in order to get the discounted price.  Other stores, while using the “2 for the price of x” signage, will actually sell you 1 item for half of x.  Know your stores’ policies.

12.  Shop with a list.

  • Use your list in conjunction with your grocery price book.  List items in two columns. 1.) Items we have to have, right now.  2.) Items we need to stock up on, if they are on sale or have hit a rock-bottom price in our price book.

13.  Leave the kids at home (most of the time).

  • It’s usually much easier to shop, compare prices, and get done quickly if you can leave the kids at home.  There are times, however, when it’s important to let the kids in on the process.  I’ve actually taken all three of my kids, by myself, to the grocery store, and while I’m not really able to fiddle with the price book or worry too much about using the calculator, I have managed to still save money and maintain my sanity.  The key is to stick to the list – and let the kids help whenever they can.

14.  Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

  • Let’s be real.  Time is money.  It doesn’t make sense, unless you simply have loads and loads of free time, to kill ourselves to save 3 bucks at the grocery store.  There is something to be said for convenience.  From time to time, pay the extra few pennies, get home a few minutes earlier, and enjoy the evening with your family.

15.  Learn to cook from scratch – or not.

  • This one is last for a reason.  There are times – many times – when it makes a ton of sense (and cents) to cook from scratch.  There are other times when it just pays to buy pre-made or pre-mixed items.  You’ll have to decide for yourself, based on your cooking skills and eating habits, which will work for you.

This is a subject about which I’d love to hear from you.  How do you save money at the grocery store?  Leave a comment and let us know.  Rock on!

I encourage you to subscribe to No Credit Needed via RSS or Email.  Also, if you liked this article, please consider promoting it via the social network buttons below.  Comments are always appreciated – and don’t forget to follow me over at Twitter.com/NCN.

Continue Reading

The More Things Change, The More They Change

A little back-story for those new to No Credit Needed -

Back in April of 2005, my wife and I decided to get serious and do something about our debt reduction.  As part of our plan, I created this website to track our progess.  After ten months of planning, working hard, sacrificing, dealing with setbacks, and learning from our mistakes, we were able to celebrate – we were debt free!  Less than a year later, we managed to fully-fund our emergency fund and for the past two years, we have managed to fund our retirement accounts and education savings accounts for our three kids.  Presently, we continue to fund our retirement accounts while saving for a future home purchase and building cash reserves.

I share the above so that you’ll understand where I am coming from when I make the statement – The more things change, the more they change.  I know, I know.  The actual quote is – The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The truth is, I just don’t believe that.  Nope.  I believe, like I said before – The more things change, the more they change.

Frustrated with being broke, even though I had a good job and a decent salary, I decided to make some changes.  Those changes, once they had born their fruit, led to other changes.  Subsequently, those changes, after bearing their fruit, led to even more changes.  And, so on.

My point?  We must not relegate ourselves to unmitigated stasis.  Instead, we must force ourselves to change – to break free from the foolish habits of the past and replace them with positive routines in the future. As our circumstances evolve, our attitudes evolve, our emotions evolve and our responses evolve.  This evolution – amazingly – begins to push itself forward.  The process, almost literally, takes on a life of its own.

Here’s an example.  After getting out of debt and building our emergency fund – our entire outlook on life was altered.  We were no longer bound by the day-to-day drudgery of paycheck-to-paycheck living.  Free, even a little-bit free, we began to think long-term.  Think about that.  I had worked for almost fifteen years, and I had never really considered that I might, someday, be a guy who “had money”.  I honestly thought that worrying about debt and feeling nervous about the future were simply parts of life.

Imagine how liberated we were when we realized – Hey, we’re actually saving money, living below our means, and planning for a pretty awesome future.  Things had changed!  And, they continue to change.  Each step in the process leads to another step, and then another, and then another.  With each step, we have more opportunities, more freedoms, and more choices.

The more things change, the more they change.  Instead of worrying about this month’s credit card payment, I’m thinking about investment opportunities.  Instead of fretting because I don’t own the latest and greatest, I’m satisfied with my current automobiles and saving up to pay cash for their replacements.  Instead of facing a future clouded with doubt and worry, I’m making plans and preparing for my life thirty years from now.

Before you finish this post, please keep the following in mind.  I am, quite literally, just a normal dude.  I like football, french fries, and hanging out with my friends.  I don’t have an advanced degree in finance and I haven’t figured out some way to line my pockets with gold.  Frankly, I’m just a a guy who got fed up with being broke and decided to do something about it.  When is the best time to start planning for your future and embracing some change?  How about today?

Continue Reading

Midnight Meanderings – Back To The Basics

Site Redesign -

I’ve tweaked the look of No Credit Needed.  I hope you like the larger text and less-cluttered layout.

From No Credit Needed – The first four articles in the Back to the Basics series -

How To Eliminate Credit Card Debt

How To Maximize Or Minimize Interest

How To Stay On Track

How To Stay Out Of Debt

From No. Calories Needed – The latest articles from my weight loss blog -

Not Feeling Hungry

Throwing Away The Scale

From the NCN Network - Check the site for updated charts -

Time4planB

DebtFree4ever

ChrystaGoingBroke

AllPennies

From around the web -

My Life Roi presents Budgeting Tips – Back To The Basics

Cash Money Life presents How To Open A Roth IRA

Budgets Are Sexy presents My Four Favorite Pieces Of Financial Advice Ever

Four Pillars presents 10 Tips – Saving Advice For College Students

Man Vs Debt presents Negotiation Tips For Beginners

Mighty Bargain Hunter presents Stockpiling Food Helps Everyone

Get Rich Slowly presents Peace Of Mind For Ten Bucks A Month – Renters’ Insurance

Wise Bread presents How To Save Green When You Buy Green

Money Tips Network - Real life money management tips – for the people, by the people.

Final Notes -

If you are new to No Credit Needed, welcome!  I hope you will take just a second to subscribe via RSS or Email and then click here and follow me via Twitter.  I tweet several times a day, and when you follow me, be sure to say ‘Hi!’

About the Midnight Meanderings -

The Midnight Meanderings are published two or three times a month and highlight articles I like from across the web as well as the most recent articles from my sites.

Continue Reading

My Frugal Fix For The Broken Chair

We have this green chair that sits in our sun-room.  It’s a very comfortable chair and I like to sit in it when I’m studying my Bible or reading a book to the kids.  The fabric is in great shape – but two of the little legs on the bottom of the chair have become unstable.  The holes where the legs attach have become “wallered out” and the legs will no longer hold firmly to the bottom of the couch.  On top of that, one of the little legs is broken and I have no idea where I might be able to purchase another one.

As a side note – I’m pretty sure the legs broke when my kids decided to play “can’t touch the lava” and used the chair (and the couch in the same room) as trampolines / safety zones.  If you are unfamiliar with “can’t touch the lava” – it’s a game kids play where they try to go around an entire room without touching the floor.  It also goes by “snakes on the ground” or “stay out of the water”.  Being a kid rocks!

I’m not much of a carpenter (although I did manage to build a playhouse for the kids), but I do know how to use a skill saw and a hammer.  So, I took all of the legs off of the chair.  I then took a 2 X 4 that I had out back, cut it into 4 pieces, and nailed those to the bottom of the chair.

Take a look -

downsized_0925091409

Yes, that is a pretty rad Thomas the Tank Engine setup that you can see in the pic.  I nailed the first board along the left-hand side of the chair.  I then nailed the second board on top of the first, creating a very solid “leg” that runs the entire side of the chair.  You can’t see it in the picture (because the battery of my ancient digital camera died) but I did the same thing on the right-hand side.

Here’s how the chair looks with the new “legs” -

downsized_0925091408

Notice the power cord trailing out the door?  It’s running to the skill saw.  You can’t see the “legs” – and the chair sits perfectly.  I think I might have another 2 X 4 out in the shed.  If I do, I might add another set of “legs” to the front an back, for even more stability.

There you have it – my free, frugal, simple, easy-as-pie fix for the broken chair.  Sure, if anyone looks under the bottom of the chair they’ll probably burst out laughing, but I can deal.  Rock on.

Continue Reading