My Story: Price Book and Pantry

contributed by Debbie


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I have found a grocery price book or list to be invaluable when shopping for everything from cars to toothpaste to canned beans. It lets you see what the real prices have been over the past year or so, and soon you will just know when the sale is real versus fake. Fake sales are much more common than real sales, and Wal-Mart does not always have the lowest price despite their claims.

I have also found that my pantry is an extension of my emergency fund. I try to keep basics like mayo, tuna, noodles, canned soup, dry milk, etc. I want my stock to carry me through at the lowest price until the next real sale and also be a safety net in case of a temporary cash crunch. During lean times, I can stop all food spending and eat from my pantry. Plus, I have my emergency fund to draw from for bills and debt payments until I get back on track. The pantry also means that when a winter storm is blowing in, I can drive right past all those people waiting in line at the grocery store to buy staples. By the way, that pantry has a back stock of stuff like toothpaste, light bulbs, etc. So I never have to run to the store for a particular item. That probably saves me at least $40 a month in impulse items I never saw.

I am single and live alone with my two cats. My average grocery bill per week is about $25, plus a once-per-month pantry restock of about $20 to $40 as things pop up on sale. I buy 6 to 12 months worth of whatever I need to restock the pantry. I learned this skill with the pantry from Gran, who saved a nickel out of every dime that passed through her hands "for a rainy day."

I have shifted my focus from buy the cheapest to buy the best value for the money over the long haul. For example, compact fluorescent light bulbs are much more expensive, but I have had some in closets, etc. for the last eight years and the ones in the ceiling fans have worked just grand for four years now with no problems from vibrations, etc. So that $6 light bulb for 8 years versus a 85-cent regular bulb that has to be replaced every three months is a major money and time saver over the long run. And when you are trying to live below your means, less is so much more, but less multiplied over and over by repetition equals some big money.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by MyStory@stretcher.com.

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