18 Ways to Save on the Items You Love Without Coupons
Many of us who make up the frugal minded crowd loved to clip coupons and match them to sales to enjoy wow deals. But, sometimes, life gets in the way and we simply don’t have the time to clip, strategize and visit various stores to get the best deals. And, for some of us, the household items that we need the most are difficult to match to coupons. Don’t despair! Help is here! In this post, we will walk you through a listed how-to guide on saving on the items you use most even when you don’t have coupons to do so. Let’s get started.
- How to Save on Dairy
Very few coupons are offered on dairy products. And, when they are, these types of coupons are worth pennies off of often expensive items. In addition, unlike other items that you can enjoy discounts on by purchasing close to the “best buy” date, some dairy products become very iffy after such dates. Even so, there are a few tips still available to save on these items.
First and foremost, make sure you purchase the store-brand of dairy products. They really are the same thing. And, they often taste better than the brand-name products.
Next, though Greek Yogurt is all the rage now (and it should be; it’s good!), it’s really expensive. So, Allyou.com suggests purchasing your favorite regular yogurt flavors and some cheese-cloth lined sieves. When you get home from the grocery store, pour your frugal yogurt into the sieves and let it chill overnight in the refrigerator. Then, the next day, enjoy perfectly Greek-ed yogurt!
Also, instead of buying a whole carton of buttermilk when you only need one cup for a recipe, just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of your regularly purchased milk. Then, give it a gentle shake and, like magic, you can enjoy a perfectly delicious cup of buttermilk!
Lastly, for cheese items, here’s a couple of tricks. First, don’t purchase already sliced cheese. Instead, either buy brick cheese and slice it at home, or request your cheese be sliced at the store deli. Either way, you’ll pay less for a convenient product with no convenience-tax added. Next, if you would still like to pay less, consider asking your local deli manager for leftover cheese ends, which are often sold at a discount. While these may not do for sandwich cheese-slices, these are great for recipes that call for cheese.
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- How to Save on Meats
Meats are one item that can be marked down at near the best-buy date and still be just as delectable at meal-time. To take advantage of these deals, make sure that you either cook and consume the meat shortly after purchasing it or freeze it to keep it fresh.
In addition, make sure you don’t buy “convenience” meats. For example, sandwich meats that have already been sliced will often be sold at higher prices than their unsliced counterparts. These higher prices are justified because the item is deemed to be more convenient to consumers. However, by either having your deli clerk slice the meat or taking it home and slicing it yourself, you can enjoy great savings.
- How to Save on Produce
This is another one of those items that, if not fresh, won’t be good. So, it’s important to buy them before they’re discounted. But, still, there’s some tricks for saving on these items. First, if one item is too expensive, consider finding the same item in another color. Apples are different prices in different colors and many have only slight taste differences. In addition, bell peppers are usually cheaper if you buy them in red instead of yellow or orange.
- Freezer Items Offer High Savings
Freezer items are often overlooked for the savings they offer. Many of them offer the same nutrition as fresh produce but at lower prices. And, many of them come with less pesticides and other inorganic matter that make health-conscious consumers cringe. In fact, if you’re looking for organic produce but don’t want to spend extra, the freezer section of your local grocery store is a great place to obtain these types of deals.
- Don’t be Brand Loyal
Brand loyalty is a huge budget-buster. For example, have you ever tried a reasonably priced new product and learned to love it? Then, just when you’re getting hooked, the price rises drastically overnight? It happens all the time. Why? Because companies know they’ve got you. You are brand loyal. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, be flexible in the brands you choose. Look at price and quality to determine what’s best for your family, not brand names. Over the years, this will save you thousands off your grocery (and other tangibles and non-tangibles) bills!
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- Buy in Season
Buying produce such as fruits and veggies in season is a sure-fire way of racking up instant savings. In fact, even their canned counterparts will mean great savings during this time of year. But, did you know that this doesn’t just apply to fruits and veggies? It’s true. Baking supplies and oatmeal, for example, are usually at their lowest price during the winter. Money.usnews.com explains that these items will often go on sale during the summer months but the summer sales price won’t be as low as the winter prices. In the summer months, condiments, barbecue sauce, Coke & Pepsi beverages, and even bandages will usually be at their lowest prices. So, be sure to keep track of which items are at their lowest during certain seasons and stock up on them then. For fruits and veggies, freeze them for more expensive times of year.
- Pay Attention to Sale’s Cycles
Likewise, if you need to purchase items when they’re out of season, try to at least wait until they go on sale again. Most items go on sale in cycles of approximately every six weeks, as a rule. So, when you see a sale on an item your household uses often, stock-up for about 6 weeks to wait for the next sale. This way, you’ll rarely have to pay full price on your regular household items, even if you don’t have accompanying coupons.
- Be Loyal to Local Stores.
Store loyalty programs are often free and easy to sign up for but offer big savings. And, for some stores, you cannot take advantage of any store sales without a store loyalty card. In addition, signing up for a loyalty card often qualifies you to take advantage of point systems to earn free points and can even help you save at local or store-owned gas stations. To sign up for these cards, you can often either visit the retailer’s website or simply ask for an application at the register as you check-out. The applications usually take less than five minutes to fill out and include the card within that can be scanned to save even on that day’s purchase. So, by signing up, you can start saving from day 1.
Asking a manager about the store’s sales will often reveal sales you never would have known about. For example, many stores have a certain day each week that items go on mark-down. But, these items tend to go quickly. So, knowing when they will go on sale and being there at the beginning of the sale is your best bet to highest savings. And, the best part is, these mark-down items are often the very items it’s difficult to find coupons for, such as meat, cheese, pastries, dairy products and more. So, don’t miss out by not asking!
- Peruse the Clearance Rack.
Of course, though a basic tip, it’s a powerful one: make sure to check the clearance aisle often, especially at the end of seasons. For example, at the end of summer, a plethora of ultra-useful items will be on sale including sandals, t-shirts, summer dresses, shorts, back-to-school items, laptop computers, other school-useful digital devices and much more. If you can’t use summer items during the winter months, simply take advantage of the sale to stock up for next year.
And, at the end of winter, many cosmetic items will go on massive sales, sometimes up to 75% off and will be placed in the clearance sections of stores. So, find out what’s in season and be sure to take one last look at the clearance aisle at the end of the season for the best stock-up prices.
- Take Advantage of Cash-Back or Gift-Card Sales
Many retailers offer cash-back deals that don’t require any coupons to take advantage of. For example, Target regularly offers deals on personal care items requiring you to purchase a certain amount and, in doing so, earn a gift card to the store of around $5. Often, this $5 amounts to a free product. Just make sure you understand the terms of the deal and purchase exactly the products (and sizes) that meet the requirements. Then, at check-out, you will be presented with your gift-card.
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- Don’t Assume that Store Reputations are Always Accurate.
Some stores are just known for their low prices. But, they have to make their money somehow or they won’t be able to stay in business. The many versions of stores that offer all items for $1 have great deals. But, some items can be found for less at other stores. However, consumers get tricked into buying them there because the store has a reputation of selling bargains. So, be sure to do your homework. Just because Walmart has a reputation for the lowest-prices around doesn’t mean that all of their prices are the lowest around.
Bonus: Walmart offers its Savings Catcher app to make sure you get the lowest price around. Simply scan your receipt and it will reimburse you for the difference if the item can be found at a nearby retailer for less.
- Don’t be Afraid to Shop Around.
In light of our last tip, we encourage you to do your homework on what stores offer sales each week. Weekly store circulars are a frugal and time-efficient way to get a picture of what is on sale each week. And, you will find that if you missed a sale on an item, many times that same item will go on sale the next week at another nearby retailer. But, they will often not go on sale during the same week at different retailers. So, if you buy yogurt one week at a sales price and need to stock up the next week as well, check out the circulars for nearby retailers to see if their sales are worth making the extra trip.
- Buy Clothing out of Season
Though many produce items are at their lowest prices when they’re in season, clothing items are, for the most part, an exception to this rule. Instead, coats, boots, swimsuits and other seasonal items will be at their lowest price either at the end of their respective seasons (as we already discussed) or in the off-seasons. Even at used stores like The Salvation Army and Goodwill, many off-season items will be marked with lower prices. But, these sales items go quickly so be sure to snap them up while you can!
- Make a List and Stick to It.
Impulse buys are arguably the frugal-minded consumer’s worst enemy. They have a nasty way of quickly blowing our whole budgets. So, before you head to the store, be sure to make a list of the items you and your family needs and stick to it. In fact, personal finance expert, Dave Ramsey, suggests you get the whole family involved by making your list. That way, when your kids see impulse buys they want, they will better understand your budget and will feel like they did have a say in the shopping process, making them less likely to try to convince you to cave.
- Choose your Path to Avoid Budget-Buster Items.
Did you know that your local stores are often designed to create the most lucrative buying path? For example, stores will often position the most unjustly expensive items at the right of the entrance because, on average, that’s where most store guests head first. Then, as you move from the right side of the store to the left, the deals get better and better as you go along. This is because consumers usually start their trip purchasing lots of items and wean down on items as carts get fuller and budgets wear out. So, for a simple trick to saving money, head to the left when you enter a store for the best deals first.
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- Check Different Departments.
This is one of the easiest ways to save but an often overlooked one. For example, walnuts might cost more in your produce aisle than they will when purchased from the baking aisle (especially if baking goods are “in-season”). In addition, items you may find in the meat aisle may cost less than the same item sold near the deli or vice versa. And, those aisle-cap deals are not always the best deals. So, double check other departments to make sure you really are getting a low price on these items.
- Lastly, be Alert at Check-Out.
Let’s face it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your local cashier may be great at her job but, as a fellow human, she’s bound to make mistakes sometimes. Paying for something that was scanned twice is the opposite of saving. So, be sure to keep track of your purchases as they are being scanned to ensure the price you purchase it at is the same as the store’s offering-price and all items are only scanned once.
Then, be sure to check you receipts thoroughly before leaving the store. At some stores, they will even offer you a free item if such a mistake was made. Double checking your receipt takes just a minute but, over time, can mean big savings.
Now it’s your turn. Did we miss anything? We’d love to know your secrets to saving without coupons. Please share them with our audience in the comment section below.