Shopping Ban 28 Week Review: Being Smart with Sales

I have always loved the feeling of getting a “good deal” on something.

I love the word clearance.

However, I am realizing the pitfalls of always chasing the deal or sale.

I am trying to be smarter with sales and bargains.

This pay period I did score one big deal that stands out: 25% off ALL bulk items at Sprouts.

It was a glorious day of cheap(er) macadamia nuts, coffee, spices, coconut flour, dark chocolate, and various other nuts.

The savings were real since we were completely out of all of these items AND they were already on my list.

But what about that urge we feel to purchase an unplanned item because it’s a “good deal?”

If you are trying to be frugal and stick to a budget, how can you be smart with sales??

1. Make a list first

This list includes the groceries, toiletries, and other needed items you plan to buy.

The list also includes where you plan to buy each item, and the approximate price. Going to the store with approximate prices helps me manage my money better. If the actual price is way more than the approximate price, I can decide if I really need the item.

2. Clip Digital store coupons or easily acquired paper coupons

I am not advocating for scouring hundreds of papers or websites for coupons. I value my time too much.

So I lookup digital coupons for the stores I already plan to shop at. I clip the ones that apply to things on my list, and then they are automatically applied at checkout. (Most of our stores have a reward number or card that links the coupons).

3. Have thresholds for certain items

The face wash we use is $9.99. I have never actually paid that amount. The most I will pay is $5. So I wait until I have a 40% off coupon or a combination of coupons that drop the price to $5. Sometimes we will go without for a week or two, but that makes me appreciate it more.

When you create a threshold, or max you will spend, you recognize tricky sales. “Buy one get one 50%” off is simply encouraging me to spend more total money and buy more total products.

I might save on the price of two, but I only need one.

4. Remember that gas costs money

We are fortunate that we have every store we need in walking/biking distance.

So if different items are on sale at different stores, we can easily go to two places without much hassle.

But if you are driving to different stores, you have to factor in your gas costs. You may not actually save money if you drive 10 miles for 99 cent raspberries. It might make more cents (pun intended 😁) to buy everything at one place.

5. Do not spend more or buy more to “save”

As I mentioned in the “Buy one get one 50% off” scenario, you may spend more total money trying to “save.”

Get the quantity you came for and spend the total you planned on.

Rarely does buying large quantities save you money. It might feel like a deal to get 75 rolls of toilet paper at Costco….but in my experience their prices aren’t much better than buying regular amounts. And you spend more total money because everything is oversized.

We all love that high from a good deal. But sometimes the promise of a good deal clouds out judgment and wrecks our budget.

A sale on my list items is a win. Buying a product just because it is on sale does not feel as good.

As Kevin often says–an item is worth what you will pay for it.

So whether I pay $2.99 for raspberries or 99 cents doesn’t matter. They are worth what I pay, and meeting my budget is worth more than stocking up on a sale.

There will always be another sale.


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