I feel empowered by not getting sucked into spending money needlessly. I think one of the important things is to find out what works for you and what is important in your life. You need to give careful consideration to your personal situation. What works for a family may not work for someone living on their own. What works for your family may not work for the family next door. As well, you need to be aware of your spending and saving weaknesses and strengths.
• Generally, buying in bulk saves money. However, if you find you or your family eats more cheese when you buy a 1 kg block instead of a smaller amount it may not be a saving after all. Likewise if you tend to use more each time you cook because there is plenty in the fridge you need to rethink. Can you put half into another container and store it at the back of the fridge for next week? Could some be frozen? Is it better to buy a smaller quantity?
• If you are buying an items like lettuce which cannot be frozen there is no point in buying more then you can use before it starts to go brown and slimy. You may live alone and decide in the supermarket that this week you will use lettuce most nights and so it is worth buying the pack of two which is on special. However, if you only eat lettuce because it is good for you and you don't actually like lettuce that much, it probably isn’t worth buying bulk. If you don't use all that you buy it isn’t a saving to you.
• Likewise if you purchase a large quantity of something which will lose flavour and nutritional value before it is used up it isn’t economical for you. I have seen plastic containers of spice at bargain prices in an ethnic grocery shop but it would take me years to get through that amount. It would go stale before I used it all so it is better for me to buy a small packet. Sometimes you may be able to go halves with someone and as long as they swap something or repay you in some way this could work well.
• Loyalty cards are another issue. They can save you money but you need to think first. If you have a loyalty card for coffee at a particular store are you going to buy coffee more often just so you get one free? The store certainly hopes so. They offer loyalty cards to encourage you to buy their coffee and to do so regularly. Do you really like their product or are you going there because of that card? You grab a loyalty card for the car wash. Do you find you are spending money at the car wash instead of doing the job yourself because of the incentive of the fifth one being free?
• Likewise, you do your shopping at a particular store and get a $5 off voucher. Be aware of any conditions. If it must be used within 7 days and you must spend over a hundred dollars or a higher amount, are you going to be coerced into spending more than you would have otherwise?
If you can get the groceries you need at that store at a competitive price and you needed to spend the specified amount you are making a saving by using that $5 off voucher. If you need to spend extra, you might buy extra non perishable groceries on special and stock pile them. This could work out as a saving in the long term. However, if you buy extra packets of snack food which get eaten this week because they are in the cupboard, you have not saved money.
Each individual needs to think about their own shopping habits and work out what really saves them money. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. If something does work for you, go ahead and do it even if it doesn’t seem to work for others.