It seems as though everywhere you turn these days, someone is having a sale or offering good coupons or are just plain inexpensive. That is, if you live in a large town or city!
For those of us in small towns, good deals can be hard to find (and nonexistent at times!) without a CVS, Target, Walmart, and all those competing grocery stores. It can also be inconvenient and costly to drive to the areas that feature all of these goodies.
So, what’s a small-town guy or gal to do? What are some ways to save money when you live in a small town?
First of all, you must know what is available to you.
:: Do you even have a local grocery store? If so, find out if your local store has a loyalty program and/or offers double or triple coupons. My local store can be expensive… unless I shop their sales and use coupons (my store doubles coupons $1 and under). Using those tools, I save a ton of money!
:: Consider couponing. Are you in an area that can have the Sunday paper delivered, either to your home or to a local convenience store? Do you have friends, family, and/or neighbors that could save the inserts for you? Don’t forget, there are an abundance of coupons available on the internet, too!
:: Utilize your local dollar store. Many times, you can get items very inexpensively at the dollar store, and some even take manufacturer coupons.
Now that you know what is available to you, the next step is to have a plan.
:: Know what you need… food staples, personal items, etc. Keep an ongoing list somewhere very visible, and add to it as you run out of something.
:: Decide where you want to shop and gather those store circulars. If you do not have a paper circular, you can usually view and print it online.
:: Have a budget. This includes any items you need to purchase at the store, “overflow” or “extra” money (in case you remember something not on your list), and the gas it takes to get there.
:: If you have to drive out of town to get your groceries, plan to get them all in one trip. It might take a while, but planning all of your stops in one trip saves money and time!
:: Make a list. Do your coupon matches at home (but don’t leave home without that binder! You never know what you might find on clearance.), and keep each store list separate. And be a stickler to that list! Hopefully, you have made an allowance in your budget for “forgotten” items, but that allowance needs to be small so you don’t go over budget.
:: Comp-price your items. Is Walmart your closest option? Did you know that Walmart comp-prices most items from other stores. Simply bring in the ad from the competing store, show it to the cashier, and they will price-match. Just be sure to separate your comp items from the other items when you check out. This makes everything easier on you and your cashier.
Finally, implement your plan.
:: Gather everything you will need for your grocery shopping trip: wallet, checkbook or debit card, list, store circulars, coupons, and coupon binder. I also recommend packing a bottle of water and a small snack. This will keep you hydrated and (hopefully!) stave off any unnecessary purchases.
:: Leave the kiddos at home. This always helps me think more clearly, and shop more efficiently. If leaving your darlings at home is not an option, make sure you pack them a snack and bring an activity to distract them… at least for a bit! You can also involve them in your shopping experience. Sure, it might take longer, but what a lesson they will be learning! My 5 year old loves to shop with me and she is learning how to make a list and stick to it, and how to purchase things at the lowest price possible.
:: Pack a cooler with a bit of ice. This will keep your cold purchases cool if you have to make more than one stop.
What tips do you have for saving money where you live?
Amy is a WAHM to 3 girls and the wife of a youth pastor. She lives on coffee, loves her Jesus, and thinks that red heels go with everything. You can find her and everything she loves on her site. And, yes, she has lived in a small town her entire life and survived (so far)!