Shopping when you’re short on cash: 4 money-saving tips

It’s no surprise that the recession has affected everyone. When the economy is at it’s worst, you need to come up with new ways to stretch your every dollar. Here are four shopping tips to help you save a little money in today’s tough economy.

Shop at your local $1 dollar store

Dollar stores can be a goldmine of bargains for everyday items. Sandwich bags, paper towels, trash bags, toiletries, and even groceries can be purchased for only $1 a piece. You’ll just have to skip the brand name items…you don’t need to stock your shelves with expensive stuff when the cheaper version will do just fine. Many of your cleaning products, as well as hundreds of other everyday items, can be purchased at dollar stores for a fraction of what you’d pay in a grocery or drug store.

Take advantage of coupons and specials

Cut all the coupons you can use and organize them so they’re easy to find. For some items, you can search online and find printable coupons or discount codes. When purchasing more expensive items such as cosmetics and brand name goods, visit the manufacturer’s website for unadvertised specials. Here are some other money-saving shopping tips:

  • Watch store flyers for weekly specials and deals. It may be worth it to stock up on essentials that are on sale even if you don’t need them at the moment.
  • Look for double and triple coupon offers…most coupons up to .99 can be doubled at some grocery stores, so if you present a .75 coupon, you’ll end up getting $1.50 off an item.
  • Watch for buy one get one free sales. When stores need to clear out overstocked items, you can find great bargains.
  • Watch for ‘specific quantity’ sale items such as 5 for $5 or 10 for $10…you don’t always have to purchase all 5 or 10 items. Unless it specifically says “you must buy “x” amount,” the discount will be given even if you buy less than the advertized quantity.
  • As an added bonus, some stores now will offer points for every dollar spent to be used towards discounts on gas. These points can add up quickly and you can easily get over a dollar off per gallon!

It may be easier to start making smaller, more frequent shopping trips in order to take advantage of the weekly sales. When you make one huge shopping trip a month you can miss out on many of the weekly bargains because not everything is on sale at that time.

Brown bag your lunch

You’ll save a ton of money by not ordering out. Start cooking your meals at home and freeze individual portions so you can take a lunch with you to heat up at work. Plus, the meals you make at home are usually healthier then take-out. Also, invest in a travel mug and start bringing your morning coffee from home. If you are in the habit of buying a coffee on your way to work every day, you can save $20 to $30 a week by skipping the coffee shop and making your own coffee instead.

Shop online

Let’s face it, shopping for bargains can be a hassle when you lead a busy lifestyle. Most of us miss out on great discounts because we don’t have the time to be driving from store to store looking for the best deal. Many stores have their own websites now.  Most will offer hundreds of items at a discount if you buy them through their website instead of the retail store. Not only is it cheaper and more convenient to shop online, but you save even more money by not paying sales tax. The items get delivered right to your door and you can often get free shipping with a minimum purchase. Search online for coupon codes for your favorite products to save even more!