Woah! Ok, so it wasn’t just me seeing those prices rise? I was at my local Safeway and often I grab a bag of puffy hot Cheetos for my kids. One week they were just $2.49. The next, they were $4.29. This was NOT because they were on sale the first week – this was just the price increase. I also noticed that there were several other places where a normal price tag was no longer on the edge of the shelf. Maybe the store was increasing those prices too? What can we do what are the tips and tricks to help minimize the pinch of the increasing prices everywhere?
How to Save at the Grocery Store
· Get with the Program! This is not just a funny saying. Really, join the Safeway or King Soopers Loyalty Programs.
· Watch what is on sale and plan your meals around sale and seasonal items. If you are not set on having ham for Easter – pick up a ham on Monday. (I also did this with Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day). Grocery stores stock up for those occasions and will put them on sale after the event.
· Download and/or cut coupons. This is sort of a lost art when it comes to the actual clipped coupons – but in the apps you can digitally clip them!
· I prefer shopping at my nearest King Soopers (to Safeway) because they do put things on sale – but don’t throw them in a back bin. They put them right where you’d find them normally. But they have a sale-priced sticker (and usually they have an expiration date of just a day or two away). This is more work because you have to go to the store more often, but if it is on your way home or close, you could save a bundle not shopping for a whole week.
· Plan ahead! Plan to use those leftovers. You can either create a leftover night (we have this often) or you can just plan a whole other meal. We often get a rotisserie chicken eat it as just that the first night and then the second time around we may do a chicken pasta or chicken stir fry using the leftovers of the rotisserie.
· Cook from home kits. I have tried several of these – on a whole, I don’t think they are really less expensive than just getting the items from the store. But they do often offer money off for new subscribers to try their services (I saved over $100 in a few weeks from each, Home Chef, Blue Apron and Every Plate). Then cancel the service.
· Go with a list and a plan. When you head to the grocery store, head there with a plan of what you need, what you are going to cook and the other items you may need. Do your best not to deviate from that list. It is very easy to drive your cart past and end cap and think, “that is a great deal.” And then spend way more than what you were expecting to.
· Shop alone. I don’t know about you but my kids are great salespeople. They can sell me the reason why they need those Puffy Hot Cheetos (and a bunch of other things).
· This may go without saying since this is in the save from the Grocery Store section – but, cook at home! Yes, cooking at home is generally less expensive than eating out.
How to Save When You Eat Out
· Watch for great deals and promotions (we write about them weekly if we know of them – right here at MileHighMamas.com). Things like buy one get one free (loads usually for special days ie. Tax Day, Pi Day, etc). Take advantage of regular promos like Rockies score 7 runs you can get 4 tacos for $2. (You could barely make them for that cost – unless you have a really big family).
· If you have a special event that you want to dine out for – try going at lunchtime (instead of dinner).
· Duh! Use those coupons. Sign up for their loyalty clubs if you love somewhere or go there often.
· Skip the drinks (soda too). We usually just drink water while dining out.
· If you have to eat out – can you eat out by picking it up? This will save you a ton on tips (do still tip the person running it to your car – but usually a couple bucks is fine, you don’t have to tip the full 15-20% that is suggested when you eat in.
· Kids eat free and Happy Hours! Timing is your best friend. You can often get deals on drinks or appetizers during happy hours (we have sometimes just had appetizers and called it dinner) and visit where you get something for free. Several restaurants have buy one entrée and get a kids meal for free. Use those!
How to Save on Household Items
· Aurora is one of the first cities to no longer charge tax on diapers. While I won’t advocate driving all the way across town just for diapers, if you are close or need to be in Aurora for some reason, you may want to head over there for your diapers.
· Check apps like Amazon to see if they have digital coupons or often the subscribe option helps save you money. You can always opt out of the subscribe part (subscribe to save money only and not get regular shipments of the item).
· Try to make some things yourself. Cleaning glass? Try a mix of water and vinegar (I also put the lemon rind in mine to make it smell better). Looking for a kitchen cleaner? Try baking soda and water.
· Use Borax powder. This little box can help with all kinds of household things including heavy duty scrubbing, laundry booster, eliminating pests and insects, unclogging drains, even preserving flowers or helping make slime for the kids!
How to Save on Gas
· See my note of saving at the grocery store. Join the grocery store program. When you purchase at the grocery store you can get points – every 100 points allows you a 10-cent discount at the pump.
· Download apps like Gas Buddy to help identify where the cheapest gas is around you.
· Join a club like Costco or Sam’s Club. The gas at these stations are typically 10 to 20 cents cheaper than the least expensive gas stations nearby.
· Driver smarter. Avoid storing cargo in your vehicle. Avoid excessive idling. Make sure your engine is properly tuned up. Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
· Pay attention. Honestly, I drive up and down Santa Fe daily, some gas stations charge up to 30 cents more per gallon than if you just drove down the street a bit. If you take a regular route – try to look a couple times. See if there is some consistent differences. The station that is on the West side of the road is cheaper than the Shell station Northbound on the East side of the road near Arapahoe Community College always by about 30 cents.
No matter if you are buying groceries, going out to eat, trying to save in your home in general or trying to save on gas, having a plan matters. Paying attention can save you a lot of money! Cents and pennies do add up – and they add up more if they are $2 more on little things like a simple bag of Cheetos.