Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Do I Find the Deals?

A year and a half ago, when I first began researching the most effective ways to spend coupons, I discovered several bloggers who posted the items that they either planned to, or already had purchased for the week, including which stores they intended to shop. I was very intrigued, and so I began my collection of these blogs.

I began reading these blogs every day... in fact, I would check each blog several times a day to see if there were any new postings. Later, I decided to install a RSS Reader through my Gmail account. A Reader allows me to check just a single location to find all of the recently published blog posts that I was reading. (Ask a computer savvy person to help you if you need it!)

Reading, and using the pictures posted on the websites helped me to begin scoring deals for my own family, this is commonly referred to as copy-catting. I found it unbelievably helpful to allow someone else to find the deals for me.

Each week when I would faithfully clip my Sunday paper's coupons, I began carefully pouring over ALL of the sales papers included with my coupons in addition to continuing to relying on the blog posts for securing my shopping strategy for the week.

With my trusty Sharpie marker in hand, I would circle the items in several of the weekly store flyers that warranted the possibility of purchase, and this is how I began researching my own deals. Week after week, it was just me and my trusty marker scouring the ads for the best weekly deals.

Soon, I shifted from relying on other bloggers for my deals and I began searching for myself. I began to feel like every blog repeated the same information, making me feel like I should brush up on my own investigative shopping skills.

If I turned my focus to ad searching for only the brands/deals that my family consumed most often, then I could save myself some major time pouring over every posting that entered my Google Reader. Scaling back my time reading every post allowed me to skim each post instead, looking for coupons (like Internet printables) that I may not have been aware of.

Building self-reliance into my bargain hunting benefited me in several ways:

1. I could spend less time in front of my computer.

2. I could focus on finding sales for items that I would actually purchase.

3. I could spend less money by NOT purchasing all of the deals that were blog advertised.

4. I would never feel helpless to be able to find deals if my Internet is down, or I am away from my computer.

Instead of just following the crowd in the blogosphere, I began shopping for what I needed by utilizing the sales flyers.

I am aware of the items that my fridge, freezer and pantry are already stocked with, and I also am aware of the items that my household is lacking. This information allows me to make quick judgement calls on whether or not the stores' flyer advertised sale is worthy of spending a portion of my weekly budget. When I was following other bloggers for my shopping game plan, I was always tempted to purchase items that we didn't need and that we wouldn't use, causing me to spend needlessly just to 'get a sweet deal!'

Each week I pour over the ad's and I compare grocery store sale prices to grocery store sale prices, and I take a peek at what is on sale at each of the drug stores. After reviewing the ads, I plan my purchasing of fresh items, needed items, and 1-5 items to stockpile.

Building my stockpile little by little has allowed me to purchase my favorite products when they are on sale and with coupons... at rock bottom prices. Purchasing multiples of these rock bottom priced items (with 1-5 products each week as my goal) keeps me shopping within my home instead of succumbing to the current pricing at the stores that week.

Being aware of our favorite products, like Tide, Aveeno, Huggies and Kraft, helps me stay focused on purchasing what we need in advance of our need, all while keeping our our of pocket costs to a minimum.

I believe that my complimenting deal seeking blogs with the knowledge of what my family consumes (or I can donate) allows me to creatively and most effectively stretch my spending power.