Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Smart Shopping

As some of you might know, I started working a couple of weeks ago. It has been great getting out of the house and finally earning some money. It's not a career oriented position but after looking for a job for over 3 months and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, suddenly landing a reasonably well paid job (in American standard) makes me really happy.

I've moved so much and so many things have changed in my life since pretty much finishing high school that I'm trying not to worry about not having a career oriented job here or not knowing what I'm going to do when I'm back in Australia. Ideally, I'd like to apply for Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of Sydney. After the army, when it was time to think about university courses, I didn't think I was smart enough to get into dentistry (or medicine but I didn't want to do that). I still don't know if I am smart enough but I guess I'll never find out unless I try.

So anyway, today at work people were talking about saving when grocery shopping. I'll start by saying that Americans love coupons and deals and you can get those for almost anything! This is unlike Australia where people "save" be deciding whether Coles or Woolworths are cheaper and sticking to it. While I got to like coupons for specialty stores (like the sewing store where I shop regularly and save about half of the total bill thanks to coupons) I don't believe in coupon shopping in grocery stores. I think you can save without obsessive coupon collection and regular search for deals. And yes, as someone who wasn't working for 6 months and is about to go to Alaska, I am in a saving mode at the moment and thought I might share my simple techniques of "smart shopping".

Firstly, why I don't like coupons? Coupons and deals actually make you buy more, make you buy stuff you don't need and make you buy it in amounts you don't need. In addition, they often give you discounts on the top brands while the home brands might be the same quality but cost half the price at the first place. That's not saving and definitely not smart shopping.

So how do I smart shop?
  • I buy what I need for the week (in my case I shop once a week). This means skip on luxury items, don't buy items that have a history of going to waste and don't buy replacements for items until I actually run out. So before anything is going to my trolley, I think twice whether I actually need it that week. To help this rule, I try and plan meals for the week and have a shopping list.
  • Experiment with cheaper brands. Many products are quite generic so no matter what brand you buy, you get the same thing and sometimes even better. Also, these products are quite cheap so if the cheaper brand wasn't good you just wasted a couple of dollars but if it was good, you'll save money long term by sticking to it.
Since I got into my smart shopping routine my grocery bill dropped in about $50 a week. No coupons and no hours looking for deals. I think because my techniques are more about smart shopping rather than about saving like mad and giving up on everything you want to buy, they are easier to implement and will work for both, those that need to save on a regular basis and those who want to save for a short while.  


PS - I know I didn't upload the second part of the photos from Santa Fe. I promise I'll get there. I think I need Adobe Lightroom to hurry things up as Photoshop is taking forever. 

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