It's all a matter of knowing when to buy

Knowing Your Store's Cycles Will Save You Hundreds

by Heather Cook

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It may seem counterintuitive to buy multiple products whilst on a budget, but I have found it to be very effective in lowering my overall grocery bill. For clarity, I'm not referring to any product in multiples. Instead, I'm referring only to the product on sale that you are sure to use. Knowing the appropriate time to take advantage of these sales is not difficult. It requires nothing more than keeping track via a price book.

You have options involved when choosing your price book. The first is format; you can choose to use your own notebook or simply download an app. There are a number of apps to make this task more simplistic, some of which are completely free. uGrocery and Quick Scan are examples of free apps to download. Other apps charge a nominal fee, but may be better equipped for your particular needs. Be sure to read the app review and thoroughly research the functionality involved, so you can be sure to get the appropriate app for your purposes.

For instance, let's say that your favorite grocery store often has cheese for $4 a pound. My family uses approximately a pound of cheese per week, so $208 a year. I only buy cheese when it's on sale for $1.99 a pound. That makes my total cheese expenditure around $103, which may seem like a paltry savings, but the savings on multiple products really starts to add up. Knowing your store's sales rotation will better equip you to stock up without overpaying. The price notebook or app will reveal your particular store's prices and requires very little effort on your part.

Related: Sites & Apps That Reduce Your Grocery Bill

I have found the apps to help my family save on everything we use consistently. Meat often goes on "sale" for twice as much as you can buy it for the next week. Being familiar with the bottom line price is important. Split chicken breasts go on sale for $.99 per pound frequently. That is my stock up price. I don't buy split chicken breast if it is higher than that.

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I suggest you start slow when beginning this adventure. Pick a couple of the store's loss leaders and buy enough to last you until the next sale. Loss leaders are the products that the store prices low in order to get you into the store. Your price book will be effective in helping you understand your store's sales rotation.

As a quick word of caution, don't over stock! It may seem like a fabulous idea to buy when it's on sale, but it's easy to buy too much. I overstocked shaving cream and ended up giving the vast majority away. If this was my original intention, that would have been fine, but I didn't budget correctly and it ended up costing me more in the long run.

It's hard to break your regular grocery habits, but starting slowly and learning your store's sales rotation will save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Updated June 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Discover additional ways to trim the fat from those food bills by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Are your trips to the grocery store becoming a painful experience? Has it become harder to put meat, veggies and milk into your grocery cart because of ever-increasing food prices? Then don't miss this interview with Erin Chase, editor of You'll find some great ways your family can eat better for less.
  • What can you do with the money you save? Use our simple tool to find the best savings or money market account rates. It's completely private, easy to use and you'll know what rate is available to you in seconds!
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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